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Old March 1st, 2016, 08:32 PM   #1
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UWOL 37 Why Do Reddish Egrets Dance

I don't expect much from this entry. I was completely burned out when I put it together, having spent the previous month putting my heart into a video for the Nat Geo Wild To Inspire contest. The grand prize; a very long trip to Africa with a Nat Geo team. Needless to say, I didn't win. Not even close. Anyway, I always wondered why Reddish Egrets do this drunken sailor thing, and watching a few videos of my own, and on the Internet Bird Collection seemed to give an answer. Like the winners at Nat Geo, quick movements and a short attention span always rule. The lack of a narrative is a symptom of burn out. Your comments are welcome.

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Old March 2nd, 2016, 04:12 AM   #2
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Re: UWOL 37 Why Do Reddish Egrets Dance

Oh dear Steve, I hope you are feeling a lot better now.

What amazing bird behavior! How the Reddish Egret manages to catch anything with that method is unreal. This bird is certainly ungainly and not short of character. Your shots at 1:50, 3:08, 3:40 and 4:50 are stunning.

I thought your choice of music was appropriate for the subject.

Of course no need to highlight the problems with this as I am sure you are fully aware of them.

I really enjoyed learning about this bird.
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Old March 2nd, 2016, 08:31 AM   #3
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Re: UWOL 37 Why Do Reddish Egrets Dance

Hi Steve:

I wanted to save yours for last because you never lack the ability to awe, wonder and delight. And this piece is no different. But I just couldn't keep away and save it for the end! Is there a way we can link to your Nat Geo film? Good for you, Steve, keep shooting high. A friend once said to me, "If you reach for the sun you might just catch the moon". And that moon just might be a Nat Geo trip to Africa some day. Congratulations on that piece, I'm certain it was a stunner.

Now I thought this was fascinating and you drew on a nice variety of resources for your introductory segment. Watching this beautiful bird it made me wonder if the wings spread high over it's head right before a strike could be both for balance and perhaps shading the sun's reflection of itself on the water that would instantly warn a fast-darting fish? Perhaps instead of standing infinitely still and having dinner come to it, perhaps it's movements are to somehow keep it's long legs from being noticed under water by fish? Sort of a type of deception where fish somehow think it's part of the grassy muck it's used to in it's own habitat environment. Perhaps in a fish's mind there are two ways to be deceived, first by two egret legs that never move and blends in with the background and second, two egret legs that sway and dart, here one moment, gone the next that keeps the fish from sensing danger. Who knows, but it's fun to think of why.

That's the best part about this piece. Just by letting the footage roll, allowing some slow motion to help use really visualize what it going on, you invite us to answer this question for ourself. Cool, eh? Well done!

Now I know you were burnt out and exhausted. But even so I have one input that would have captivated me even more, and it is a simple thing to do. Without adding a single thing, if you would have spread out your text intermittently throughout your footage instead of all text at the start and all footage that followed, it would have struck a refreshing balance between the two. I would have gotten more out of your text and thus more out of your footage.

Thanks for this Steve, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even when you are tired and perhaps a little discouraged from reaching very high and not receiving reward for excellent work... in my book you never fail to disappoint!


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Old March 2nd, 2016, 09:14 AM   #4
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Re: UWOL 37 Why Do Reddish Egrets Dance

Ooh Cat,

I hope you don't really mean that I never fail to disappoint!!! You're right, the egret is thought to use it's wings to shade and see the fish better. Some people think it is also to welcome the fish into a shady lair. You will notice that the Black Heron in Marj's video does a similar thing.

I also planned to look at yours last, but couldn't wait. I don't know what it is, but there is something about your videos that no one else duplicates. I still can't put my finger on it, but they are, in a word, charming.

You asked about the Nat Geo entry, so here is a link. Please be aware that the rules of the contest are that it's supposed to be about you, it's not narcissism. Also here is a link to what I think was the best entry, from Erin Ranney. You will LOVE this. Finally a link to see the finalists with their tiny little attention spans.



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Old March 2nd, 2016, 09:30 AM   #5
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Re: UWOL 37 Why Do Reddish Egrets Dance

Hi Steve,

Great that you have submitted an entry this round. I find it very difficult commenting on others work in this type of challenge when entries are submitted and the entrant indicates its a not up to their normal standard, as I would not wish to highlight issues you are already aware of.

Love that weird bird, I would find it a great challenge to film.

You have the makings of something really good here. Cat brought up about the titling, could I just add that a few cutaways to other birds there showing good head movement that appear to be looking at something. In the right places would give the impression that they are looking quizzingly at this egrets weird behaviour. That coupled with your choice of music would have added a bit more humour to it.

I too would love to see you Nat Geo entry

Feet up, recharge your batteries, ready for the next round.

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Old March 2nd, 2016, 05:18 PM   #6
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Re: UWOL 37 Why Do Reddish Egrets Dance


Oh how beautiful, wonderful and breathtaking your Nat Geo film is. It is masterfully shot, beautifully narrated and yes for me, I love that you provided me great joy. Isn't it wonderful how tenacious life is and doesn't give up it's glory? I am filled to overflowing and yes of course with me, tears are in my eyes. Who cares you didn't win? Look at what you have put together! It is a call to marvel and rejoice that all is not yet lost and your artistry just keeps perfecting that call. I am so thankful I asked for the links, and that you even shared that you submitted this.

Now for Nature's Touch, I loved it too. But I can honestly say no more than yours. It is beautiful and inspiring in a different way, that's all. And the world is such a better place because you both decided to give it your all in this contest. Perhaps that for me I understand just how difficult it is to achieve flawless pans of regal birds in flight in perfect lighting that makes it magical. Or how difficult it is to capture young eagles catching wind drafts in the nest. These subjects are far more difficult to capture than filming a precious little girl, even when done to perfection.

Thanks for the links! I'll get to the finalists with short attention spans in a few days. Don't change what you are doing Steve, just keep the juices flowing and keep blessing us all :).


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Old March 3rd, 2016, 03:44 AM   #7
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Re: UWOL 37 Why Do Reddish Egrets Dance


Some great shots, although I understand, as Mick has said, that commenting on things that you already know doesn't add much to the challenge.

I found your NatGeo film superb - I recognised some of the footage, but it was an uplifting story, and one you should be proud of!

I can fully see why you were feeling burned out - let hope you are feeing recovered!

Who wants a fully paid trip to Africa with Nat Geo anyway?..... Your work is up with the winners in my opinion - so keep to it!
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Old March 5th, 2016, 02:37 PM   #8
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Re: UWOL 37 Why Do Reddish Egrets Dance

Hi Steve,

What an interesting behavior of the birds. Amazing that it's able to catch fish before scaring them away.
Thank you for teaching me something new! I enjoyed watching this one.

And I really liked the Nat Geo film you made too. You did very well!
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Old March 5th, 2016, 10:40 PM   #9
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Re: UWOL 37 Why Do Reddish Egrets Dance

Steve - What a gorgeous bird! The texture and the color of the plumage was very regal.

That was a very interesting story. The informative intro was useful to understand what was coming up in the video and once having read it, it made the video easy to understand.

Drunken Sailor? He sure was, that was hilarious. Where was the Shore Patrol? Talk about a character!

Looked like it must have been a challenge following him around with the telephoto and figuring out where he (or she?) was headed next.

Why, (can I start off a sentence with that?) with all that running around wouldn’t they burn up a lot of energy and have to eat more? We’ve got a lot of Blue Herons here but they just stand very still until something comes along to snatch.
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Old March 7th, 2016, 06:49 PM   #10
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Re: UWOL 37 Why Do Reddish Egrets Dance

Cat, Mick, Paul,

Thanks for all the uplifting comments. I really needed that. Cat, as for the little girl, I have a real soft spot for them. I spent the weekend chasing my 4 year old granddaughter all around, trying to make up adventures with her out of things like empty conference rooms, turning a staircase railing into a jail, and sneaking Oreo cookies when her mother wasn't looking. It's amazing what small children can do for you.

Trond and John,

Yes, that behavior is really unique. Since the birds are able to grab a couple of small fish per minute, I think that they do energetically as well as a more conservative heron. Something else may be of interest. If you read the older literature about Reddish Egrets, you see references to their doing just like Great Blue Herons...sitting and waiting. Their bills are massive, certainly appropriate for really big fish. Although Audubon mentioned that they sometimes "walk briskly", there is no mention of this crazy dance. The first real description of it was in the 1940s. Since then, no one talks about Reddish Egrets without mentioning the dance. It is not rare behavior. Around 1900 the birds were almost wiped out by the feather trade. With later protection of the law, their numbers bounced back. Could it be that the stocks were replentished by a single population of the birds that had, on their own, learned this trick? Is that Lamarckian?
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