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The canopy king (38)
gerhardt Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1936 W: 244 N: 4106] (11620)
Black Heron
Egretta ardesiaca

Also known as: Afrikaans: Swartreier, English: Black Egret, German: Glockenreiher, French: Aigrette ardoisée.

Scientific name derived from:
ardesiaca: Modern Latin, a misspelling of ardosiacius, lead-coloured or slate-coloured.
egretta: French aigrette, a tuft or crest (later an egret or little heron).

They are large, all black or slaty black birds with yellow feet and black legs. It has a bright yellow iris and the feet turns to orange or red at the start of the breeding season.

These Herons are common in the tropics throughout Africa south of the Sahara, except the Congo Basin, and the dry western parts of RSA. They are rare in the Free State were I stay. The frequent the edges of inland and estuarine waters, mainly in higher-rainfall regions.

Black Herons are solitary or gregarious, sometimes feeding cooperatively in groups of up to 50 birds (even up to 70 further north in Africa). When feeding forms a canopy over head by quickly spreading wings forwards to overlap in front of bird; foot then stirs bottom while bill jabbed into water to catch prey. (I still have this pose high on my wish list of shots to get) Holds canopy pose for about 2-3 seconds, and then returns to normal before repeating performance. Flocks may canopy in unison. Canopying done in any weather, day or night, possibly to improve visibility by eliminating reflection, or to attract food to dark shelter formed by wings. Often rouses, shakes plumage and slowly subsides. They roost communally in trees.

This shot was taken on the trip with Japie to the Marievale Bird Sanctuary (an inland wetland area). It was the first time I have seen this bird in the wild and am very happy to have taken this shot. I hope you like it.

Technical data
Time of day: 9:58 AM
Weather conditions: Clear skies
Focal length: 400mm
Flash: Canon Speedlight 550, Patterned
Tripod: Beanbag
Camera mode: Aperture priority
Photoshop CS: Cropped, USM (300%, 0.5, 0)

Altered Image #1

gerhardt Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1936 W: 244 N: 4106] (11620)
Burn and levels
Edited by:japie Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1814 W: 100 N: 1904] (5187)

I did try a workshop doing the following.

1. Using the burn tool, I made the reeds and the trunk a bit darker to lower the contrast with the heron

2. I adjusted the levels a little brighter after completing step 1

Hope you like it