Successful Fishing In The Salt Marsh

Earlier today we were watching a great blue heron as he tried to perfect his fishing technique in the salt marsh at low tide. As the tide starts rising it brings in lots of fish and he was very definitely interested in catching some. He would watch the water…look for fish…then strike the water…and come up “empty beaked”. But he was a very determined bird, and after missing ten or twelve times, he finally got his rhythm down and then he was plucking them out right and left! I decided to capture his successful fishing technique on video so I hope you enjoy this 26 second lesson on “Successful Fishing In The Salt Marsh” !

32 thoughts on “Successful Fishing In The Salt Marsh

    • Thanks a lot Molly! When we first started watching him he was doing terrible, missing on every strike. Finally he settled down and started doing quite well, we saw him catch several fish.

  1. The video was extra special. I’ve always wondered how they manage to maneuver the fish in position to swallow without dropping them. Near as I could tell, you still left that question unanswered…. (I tried everything to try to spot that very last moment)
    But despite that tantalizing tidbit…. the images are superb as always.

    • I cut the video short, because it can sometimes take a bird like that over a minute or longer to get the fish positioned properly head down for swallowing and I’d rather just post some quick action. Of course other times the bird will gulp down the fish immediately, ya never know. I have a series from yesterday where a GBH caught a ten inch mullet.
      I started shooting that at 1:18pm and he swallowed it at 1:30pm so it took a little bit of time.
      I have watched a GBH catch and eventually swallow an eel the size of your arm. That took close to an hour.
      Glad you had fun with this and enjoyed the pics and video. 😀

        • It was pretty cool to see the GBH with a pretty large fish, I’ll post pics in a day or two I guess. I have a lot of stuff from the past couple of days, even a young alligator in the swamp from today.
          Oh yeah, that eel battle went on for-ev-er. The worst part was the heron beat the living &%$# out of that poor eel. He would rear his head back and really lay into the eel. The sound was more then a little distressing.
          I should dig those pics out of the files some day.
          I would never want to be standing next to a GBH that was really mad at me and have it strike my leg. That bill would go through to the bone no problem. 😯

  2. Love this post Phil ! The short video was awesome with his neck careening and pumping. And the head dive in the water shot? Awesome! Did you pull that photo off the video or was that one of his many attempts. Persistent little bugger…

  3. Tahnks for the video and the great photos.

    Greetings from the far North

    “In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.” — Robert Lynd

  4. I appreciate you setting the record straight. After hanging around your blog for awhile with so many amazing shots, it looked like they never missed the fish!!! It would be interesting to see that eel shot you described above. Top notch all around.

    • Yes they do miss fairly frequently. There are times when we see fish swirling all around a bird and still he misses. It may seem tempting to make fun of their ineptitude but then they give you a look as if they are saying…”Oh yeah, you think it’s so easy? You jump in here and try snagging a fast moving fish using just your mouth!” I guess they have a point.
      Thanks for looking and glad you liked these!

    • I have some upcoming photos of a GBH with a big fish from this weekend and then a series with a huge eel from a while back that I’ll post soon. They sometimes really struggle to get their catch down and other times it just zips right down the throat quickly. Glad you liked the pics and video!

  5. Wow, how cool to be able to capture its fishing success on video! I watched it a couple of times.
    Your photos are great also and always clear and sharp. I love the first one where the water droplets are frozen in mid air and crystal clear. What were your camera settings?

    • I’m really glad you liked that video and the pics as well!
      For those I had the camera set at 1/1250s shutter at f7.1 and 200 ISO using manual exposure.
      Thanks for checking these out!

  6. I was wondering how he did that catching the fish. I wonder if he see’s the fish or if he see’s the ripple and know’s that there is fish there? Great Photo and video! How do those scrawny legs hold that big body up? Looks like I’m full of questions today. I guess i’m just thinking out loud. :+)

    • We are not sure how they track a fish. I believe they see the actual fish although ripples in the water could give away the fact that a fish is swimming there. Sometimes the fish jump which attracts attention.
      Yes they do seem to have skinny legs. Considering they are a ‘wading bird’ you might think they would have more sturdy legs but they do seem to do well with what they have.
      Thanks for checking out the pics and video!

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