Today I want to share a serene image I captured recently of a Great Egret perched on a limb at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. This elegant bird was not far from the shore, standing out starkly against a backdrop of fall foliage in various shades of orange and yellow.

A Great Egret at Dawn in a Wildlife Refuge

I photographed the egret just after sunrise one morning, when the soft golden glow of first light was mixing with the long shadows and darker mood of dawn. Its s-shaped neck curves gracefully as it gazes out over the water. The egret looks to be at ease, enjoying a moment of calm before the busy work of foraging for food begins. I like imagining it is peacefully watching the world wake up around it, as the rising sun lights up its white feathers against the multi-hued leaves. This time of day brings out interesting bird behaviors, transitional moments between night and day that I enjoy observing. Later it’ll be actively seeking and lunging for fish, but for now, it seems content to just stand and take in the dawn.

Against the colorful leaves, the egret’s entirely white plumage seems to glow. The bird and trees reflections shimmering softly in the water below.

I love the contrasts present in this photograph – the vibrant warmth of fall against the egret’s cool white feathers, the energetic chaos of the colorful leaves compared to the bird’s perfect stillness and patience. I think the darker light enhances the effect, adding a sultry moodiness.

Egrets are common sights around waterways in the south, but they never fail to impress me with their stately elegance. I feel lucky to have captured the beauty of this Great Egret in its habitat amongst such vivid fall scenery. The amazing biodiversity of birds, even familiar ones, is a treasure. I enjoy observing and photographing their behaviors and surprising moments like this one.

I’m thrilled with how this image came out, with its many layers of contrast and the prominent feature of the egret as the center of attention. Let me know in the comments what strikes you about this photograph!

Image Information:

  • Date: 11/08/23
  • Time: 08:31 AM
  • Camera: Canon EOS R7
  • Lens: EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM
  • ISO: 800
  • Aperture: 5.6
  • Shutter: 1/800
  • Exp. Comp.: -1.7
  • Lens (mm): 400
  • Program Mode: Manual