American Bittern, Botaurus lentiginosus:
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge near Titusville, Florida
I have seen many American Bitterns over my birding career, but seldom have I seen them out in the open like this bird I found along the Black Point Wildlife Drive in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Most bitterns I see are hidden or partially hidden within the reed beds.
This image was taken just after sunrise, just as sunlight began to ripple over a water impoundment berm of the refuge drive. As the slight glow of light on the bittern began to intensify it quickly turned and walked back into the mangroves to escape the brunt of the morning light.
A beautiful bird, the American Bittern is created to blend into its natural environment. It striations of white, cream, cinnamon, and browns make this species the king of camouflage.
Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f/4, Exposure 1/80th second @ f/5.6