For some reason I have found it incredibly difficult to photograph herons here in Portugal. Mostly seen them at a far distance or flying overhead, and when I do happen to find myself close to one they spot the camera and that is it they are off. Back home if I see one by a canal or river it seems relatively easy to take close-ups, but here . . . . . .oh my! Is it just me or have others found it a challenge?
I can take shots of Flamingos, Knot, Blue Throats, Snipe and even Little Bitterns but photographing herons had become irksome. Somewhat surprising given the Grey Heron is over a metre in height, a Portuguese resident and common. However they are not the only birds to thwart my camera. Coots and moorhens are also far more wary than in England. It makes me wonder as to what happened in the past. Were coots, herons and moorhens once regularly shot here? I know they were once considered tasty roasted in England but was that the same here in Portugal. Perhaps they all are camera shy?
I have over the past few years captured the odd good shot but it was not until this week I was finally able to snap away to my hearts content. I think this Grey Heron was more focused on the Spoonbills disturbing her fishing waters than the strange human lurking on the bank taking photographs.
As you might imagine for a predatory wading bird their diet consists of fish, eels, beetles and lizards. They have been observed enjoying the occasional duckling or small wader, and as many people in England with ornamental ponds know they also like goldfish and koi! Male and female markings are the same, so if you see one without the dark stripe on their head it means it is a juvenile. Their Portuguese name is Garça-real and their Latin name Ardea cinerea. We have seen other herons but I’ve yet to get even one photograph of them! Still gives me a challenge whilst we are out here in Portugal.