Ardea herodias herodias

Photograph by Al Denelsbeck.

Photography Contest, Winner.

Great Blue Heron
Ardea herodias herodias – great blue heron with red-bellied watersnake Nerodia erythrogaster. Mr. Denelsbeck writes, "Late afternoon on World Migratory Bird Day last year, having little luck all day, my brother spotted this heron and we realized it had a capture. The snake was still writhing as we attempted to get close enough for a clean shot, and managed it just before the heron flew off with its prey. It's challenging enough for a heron to get a large fish in the right position to swallow whole – I imagine it's quite a bit harder with something as wickedly aggressive as a watersnake, though we missed that action. There are now four recognized subspecies of great blue herons, with the possibility of A. h. wardi creeping into the area, but this is much more likely A. h. herodias, as noted. Canon 7D, Tamron SP 150-600 at 600mm, handheld, cropped."

We received only around a dozen submissions this year, and all were very good indeed. In the past, we have polled our readers, but participation in the polls has dropped off. We therefore decided, consistently with Rules 8 and 12, to choose the winners ourselves rather than poll our readers. In this endeavor, we enlisted the assistance of our Wife and Harshest Critic, Deanna, and also our Son the Geek, David. Deanna grew up making dye transfers, and David is a formidable photographer himself. The one thing we three agreed upon was to place Al Denelsbeck’s photograph of what David called “sad snake, happy bird” first. We will announce the runner-up and the bronze medalist, so to speak, in subsequent weeks.

Mr. Denelsbeck, who blogs here, will be offered his choice between Why Intelligent Design Fails, A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism, edited by Taner Edis and me (and autographed by me); and What’s Gotten Into You by Dan Levitt, generously contributed by NCSE. The runner-up will be offered the remaining book.