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Through observation, I’ve learned that great blue herons often rear their necks back before taking off. Then they shoot the neck forward to help gain altitude, much like a diver on a springboard would shoot his arms up before executing a dive. When I saw this one tensing its neck, I framed up and left slightly. It shot right into the frame as I caught every muscle straining to lift off the ground.

These are the largest wading birds on the upper Texas coast. Adults often grow to 54 inches in height and have wingspans up to 80 inches (more than six and a half feet)!