I went over to Botanica last week to see what there might be to photograph. I had arrived early and the gardens were just opening. The cold temperatures must have been delaying visitors this morning. I had the whole place to myself, except for a few staff gardeners. The season for photographing flowers is near an end. A possible frost is in the weather forecast. I knew it was probably too late to find any water lily or lotus blooms but, it doesn't hurt to check. As I entered the pond area on the boardwalk, I looked over the edge into a cluster of pickerel weed. I was startled by sudden movement within eight feet of me. The source of the commotion was an American Bittern that had puffed up into a defensive posture at the sudden site of me.
I quickly pulled back enough to be out of the bird's sight while I fumbled with changing lenses. When I peered back over the the side of the boardwalk again, I was surprised to see the bittern had not sneaked off into cover. It was still frozen in that defensive posture. I got only a few shots before it slowly moved into the cattails. I have observed and photographed bitterns many times but, have never seen this puffed up posture before. The common view of a bittern is depicted in the photo below. The bird is more often seen frozen in a vertical stance as it tries to blend in with reeds or cattails.
I like surprises! What a memorable morning!