You can tell when a large egret or heron is getting ready to fly by looking at the tension in their necks and bodies. When you see them crouching down a little and pulling their necks backward – while still standing – chances are, they’re getting ready to take to the wing. The pose is somewhat reminiscent of swimmers in the starting blocks. They coil themselves like springs to get a little extra distance on takeoff. They literally launch themselves into their air with their legs and necks. The wings then scoop air by making a big outward ark. This gives them the altitude they need to start their flight if they aren’t sitting on a high branch. In this photo, you can see the tension being released all the way down to the toes. Taken with a Nikon D4 and the 800mm f5.6 Nikkor at 1/8000th of a second with ISO1600.