View Full Version : Grey Heron eating fish that was caught by Indian Cormorant

Atul Sinai
15-02-2012, 01:15 AM
It was around 10.30 in the morning on a beautiful Sunday morning. I was shooting along the coast of river Mula with my bag lying on the ground, tripod set-up and the camera mounted on it. I observing and waiting for some action to unfold.

Suddenly far away, I saw an Indian Cormorant with a fish. It was barely visible through naked eyes, an awkward angle to shoot and literally no time in hand.

As I tried to understand whatís happening, a Grey heron resting on the nearby perch attacked the Cormorant ferociously. It appeared as if it waiting for this moment, thus creating an opportunity to feed itself. The Cormorant was caught unaware had to let go off the fish. The victorious Grey Heron managed to fetch the fish from the water surface in very first go.

It then flew around with the fish and perched on its favorite perch. Now thatís what I wanted. It was right in front of me, just a river in between the two of us.

As I tracked the action, I managed to take some decent flight shots. It was a big catch and the patience of the Heron had paid off.

After a series of images with continuous shooting, I quickly set the camera to video mode with 3x digital zoom. This allowed me considerable reach (1200mm) to closely document the action. I wanted to study how this bird eats such a big fish.

Video graphed the action for 1 minute and 36 seconds. Was challenging to get shake free video with ball head and 1200mm focal length combination on the a 1.6 crop factor camera.

Footage was shaky in start and again in the end as my fingertips touched the camera, but fortunately the key 20 seconds were without any shake.
Had to let go some dramatic images for the sake of the footage, but the output was satisfactory.

It felt amazing to watch it balance itself while attempting to eat the catch. Initial moments were a struggle for the heron to balance itself, but then it stabilized, paused for a moment and then slowly changed the angle of the fish in jerks from 90 degrees to its beak to 60...to 30 and finally to zero making it parallel to the beak.

Once this was accomplished, swallowing was a routine. As soon as the fish goes in, the neck gets elongated and thick, you can almost feel the fish inside. It took another couple of minutes to swallow it completely. It had to move its neck back and forth in order to get this done.

As soon as it swallowed the neck moved out of the frame and the video got messed up a bit. It was a pleasurable experience to witness this action and document it. After the session ended, had a satisfactory walk back home thinking about what could have been done better.

Video: http://youtu.be/4xkklG52nyA

Atul Sinai
15-02-2012, 01:17 AM
Just landed on the perch

Abhishek Jamalabad
16-02-2012, 11:22 AM
Nice that you could witness and document this action. Must have been a treat to watch. Thanks for sharing.

Mrudul Godbole
16-02-2012, 08:45 PM
Nice documentation. Did you get any images of the heron attacking the cormorant? Thanks for sharing.

Saktipada Panigrahi
22-02-2012, 10:32 PM
Nice documentation.Its good that you could witness the full drama.Have you got any picture of the feud between the two birds?
Thanks for sharing.SaktiWild

Atul Sinai
23-02-2012, 07:24 PM
Thanks !

Unfortunately I was not able to get any usable image Heron attacking the Cormorant. Below is a shot just before the attack. The Cormorant leaves the fish as it looks up at the Heron (out of the frame) approaching towards it.

This is around 80% crop as the action happened far away.