Least Bittern
Ixobrychus exilis
The Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) is a summer resident over a large part of the United States including coastal and south Texas. Its small size and quiet, stalking behavior allow it to slip almost unnoticed through cattails and other marsh vegetation. In June, 2000, I was on a private ranch in Kenedy Co., Texas when I happened to flush a Least Bittern from a cattail-lined pond. I later spent several days in a float tube blind and was finally rewarded with some nice shots of the bittern as it foraged near its nest. The top two photos here were taken from this float tube blind with a Canon EOS 3 and EF300mm F/2.8L lens with a 2X extender on Fuji Velvia pushed one stop. The shot shown here won 3rd place in the wading birds division of the Valley Land Fund 2000 Wildlife Photo Contest.





The next two shots were taken at Anahuac N.W. R., Chambers Co., Texas, in May, 2001, with a Canon EOS 3 and EF 500mm F/4 L IS lens and 1.4X extender on Fuji Velvia. The bird shown here is in a characteristic pose as it remains motionless for minutes at a time waiting for a small fish to come within striking distance.
The next 7 images of Least Bittern were digital captures at Anahuac N.W.R., Chambers Co., Texas, in June, 2008. These shots were taken with a Canon EOS 1D Mark III and EF 600mm F/4 L IS lens and 1.4X or a 2X extender.