Close encounters with a green heron

On my latest trip to Bangor’s Essex Woods on Sept. 19, I noticed that many of the birds I’d seen in the wetlands just a week before were nowhere to be seen. Despite the gang of noisy mallards, the marsh felt empty. No sandpipers, no egrets, no herons. Perhaps they had all flown south for the winter, or maybe they were simply hunkered down that afternoon to escape the cold autumn wind.

After photographing a few songbirds and ducks, I was headed back to my vehicle when a blue heron flew overhead and landed at the far end (relative to me, anyway) of the marsh. Excited to see a large wading bird still fishing the wetlands, I jogged back along the path to see if I could locate it. I think I ran right past it, because next thing I knew, the bird lifted up into the sky and flew back to the other side of the marsh, which isn’t accessible by trail, erasing all hope I had of photographing it.

If you’re a wildlife photographer, you have to learn to shrug these things off. It happens all the time. Wild animals have minds of their own, and they don’t tend to stay in one place for very long.

So I turned back around to retreat to my vehicle a second time, and as I was walking along, I spied another wading bird — a green heron. It was fishing fairly close to the edge of a pool, so I crept up slowly, hid behind some tall grass and watched it for about 20 minutes. It was one of those lucky moments — either the heron didn’t see me or it didn’t mind.

Here are some of the photos I took during the outing.

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at