Most of the time the numerous great blue herons, which daily frequent the shallows of pool edges and riffles near the cottage, are highly intolerant of company. Just open the door leading to the side deck and they'll be flapping off in alarm, squawking in disgust with every wingbeat.
Making a good photo is pretty much a matter of luck and quick shooting.
But every once in a while a bird will surprise you. Yesterday evening, midways between twilight and full dark, as the sky dimmed and a few stars began winking on through the skim of clouds, the heron above came winging up from downstream. The big bird landed on the edge of the pool directly across from where I stood—smack in the open, as hulking and highly visible as a bear in church, my canine sidekick Moon-the-Dog alongside, who, being mostly white, glowed like a neon phantom in the dusk. After eyeing me warily for several minutes, the heron waded carefully out to the middle of the riffle to a favorite fishing-platform rock.
I made a few cautious photos. Sometimes, as if responding to the sound of the shutter, the heron would pause and spend a few moments speculatively rechecking us out. Still, while it was certainly aware of our presence, it didn't seem particularly anxious.
What was causing the heron problems was the slippery stone. We haven't had much rain this spring to keep things scoured clean. The river is low and the riffle's rocks are slick, making footing precarious and problematic for all us fishermen, feathered or not. More than once the big bird's foot slipped on the slimy stone, causing it to flap desperately in order to regain balance and not wash over into the four-foot depths directly downstream. That's what's happening in the image above.
After making a few additional shots, I decided to remove Moon and myself from the scene as possible distractions, in case we were more contributory than I thought. I know if I'm destined to take a pratfall, I'd rather do it without an audience, let alone what amounts to riverside paparazzi.