Happy new year to everyone. May it be a healthy, enjoyable and succesful year in every aspect thinkable, and may there be lots of beautiful light and cooperating subjects!

My first encounter of 2011 was a memorable one. I had seen many beautiful images of Bitterns (Botaurus stellaris, Roerdomp) on the internet recently. No surprise, as they need to leave the cover of the reedbeds in search of food when the lakes and ponds are frozen. I had visited the local fishing ponds several times in hopes of seeing one.

The best I could find were prints of the huge feet in the snow and across the ice. Yesterday, I went for a small walk with the family to the ponds and brought the camera, just in case. We did not see any Bitterns, but enjoyed the walk nonetheless. On the way home, I spotted a bundle of reeds in a meadow close to the main road. On closer look, that bundle appeared to have enormous feet. Not something reeds usually have. There was a Bittern! I took some shots from the car and after a minute got out of the car and onto the ground to approach it a bit closer. Strange enough, it let me do so. After a few minutes and some satisfying images, it flew off. Nothing special photography wise, but a very nice and unexpected encounter, albeit that I actually went searching for one.

Great Bittern; Canon 1D Mark III w. 500/4 IS; 1/60s at F4 and ISO400; beanbag from ground