Heron & a brief rant

There are a few birds that, no matter how many photos I have of them already, I always turn the lens to when I find them.  Great Blue Herons – John the Heron being the generic name for all of them – are one of them.  Last summer I came home satisfied that I had finally gotten the perfect heron shot, but then on Saturday I found myself making images of him again and thinking the same thing.

Great Blue Heron in breeding plumage at Abington Area Community Park on 21 May 2011.
What makes this shot different – I won’t say better – is the plumage.  John’s in full breeding plumage here, with long, almost spiked breast feathers.  They won’t last a whole long longer and are generally gone by mid-July or August.  But while they’re here, they really add some pizazz to his look.Unfortunately it’s not all roses and sunshine.  Looking closely at the photos while editing them, I discovered that I’d captured some fishing line in the bottom section.  It’s a common sight around any body of water, usually tangled messes of it hanging from low branches or caught in brush.

But looking closely, this is worse, because it appears to be tangled around John’s legs themselves.  The dangers of mono-filament to wildlife are many and well-publicized, but that still doesn’t stop lazy ass fishermen from leaving it all over.  In fact, since my shooting locations often correspond with popular fishing spots, I can tell you first hand that fishermen are, in general, pigs.

I hate to paint an entire group with such a broad brush, but based on the sheer volume of trash I’ve found along the local shores, it’s clear that this isn’t a case of a few slobs ruining the whole batch – it’s widespread.  And it pisses me off.  The whole concept of “pack out your trash” isn’t hard, especially when you’re only talking about some bait bowls, a little fishing line, a few beer cans, and a twenty-foot walk back to your truck.

It goes beyond a lack of responsibly – it’s a negligence, brought on by a complete lack of concern that most people have over anything but their own selves.  Frankly the wildlife has far more right to these areas than we do, but being the apex assholes on the planet, we not only push them out and plow them under, but so pollute and contaminate what wild areas are left that they, too, become inhospitable.
Unfortunately this heron isn’t likely to survive very long, unless he’s able to rid himself of the fishing line.  All he wanted was a meal, and to find a girl heron who would be impressed by his fancy feathers.  It’d be nice if people kept that in mind the next time they were out trolling bars for the same.

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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  1. Here is where photographers can help.

    If your camera shoots video, document the offending fisherman when you see it and get his or her license plate in the video. Burn the video on to a DVD and get it to the park ranger at the park. Let the ranger know you are willing to appear to testify in court if necessary. In many jurisdictions that will be enough to get the offender a summons which will possibly lead to a fine and even suspension or revocation of the precious fishing license.

    If enough of us do that, the word starts to get out.

  2. Man that sucks seeing John tangled up in finishing line like that. Too bad these birds don’t understand that people like you and I would help them get the fishing line off without doing further damage. Hopefully he’ll find a way to get rid of it.

    • brentpennington

      Exactly- I thought about trying to reach him to remove the line, but feared he would only flee, causing him even more stress and possibly tangling him worse.

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