Anhinga Attacks Heron in the Everglades

The Anhinga trail is the most accessible trail in Everglades National Park. Located a few miles south of the park entrance, a 15 minute stroll takes you past a pond, along a narrow waterway, and into another wide open pond. Gators and birds are everywhere, so it’s a great opportunity for wildlife photography.

The key – as with all wildlife photography – is to pick a spot and patiently wait for something to happen. It’s hard to resist the urge to keep walking in circles to find something great to shoot, but in my experience you’ll see far more interesting behaviour is you pick an area (or an animal) and hang out for half an hour (or more).

I like the waterway just past the first pond, as it creates a consistent flight and swimming path for the animals.

I was framing a reflection for a beautiful Great Blue Heron, waiting for him to strike at a fish, and was completely unprepared for what happened next.

In the link of an eye there was ferocious splashing, and wild squawking from the heron. It happened so fast that I didn’t even see what was happening. My photographer’s instinct kicked in and I quickly rattled off a serious of frames.

It wasn’t until afterwards – while checking the back of my D5 – that I saw the cause of the ruckus. Check out the series of shots below.

Tryptic of an Anhinga Attacking a Great Blue Heron in the Florida Everglades

Unbelievable action. It made my day, but also frustrated me as I wasn’t prepared for the extra room I’d need to capture the head of the heron, or the depth of field needed to hold the anhinga in sharp focus when it first appeared.

I returned two days later, found the heron fishing in the same watering hole, framed for the same type of reflection shot, adjusted my exposure with some additional depth of field, and just before I had a chance to zoom out to enlarge my field of view, it happened again! Again! The exact same interaction. In fact the anhinga was following and harassing the heron everywhere it went. 

Anhinga attacking great blue heron in Everglades National Park

Sadly this was about 10 minutes after sunset so the light disappeared before I had a chance to observe any further behaviour. Lesson learned. If you see a pattern of repeat behaviour, frame the shot according to the vision of the photo you want to create, not just what you’re looking at.

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Anhinga Attacks Great Blue Heron in Everglades National Park