Great Egret in flight, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia
Caption: Great Egret (Egretta alba) flying low over the water, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia.

Camera: Canon EOS 50D; Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 L USM; Focal Length: 400mm; Shutter speed: 1/500; Aperture: f/5.6; ISO: 400.

Formerly known in southern Africa as the Great White Egret, this large heron is found across most of the world’s tropical and warm temperate regions, including parts of North America, southern Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Other names by which this bird is known include White Egret, White Heron, American Egret, Large Egret, and Common Egret — all rather confusing, but probably a result of its distribution across so many different parts of the world.

The above photograph was taken from a motor boat while exploring some of the Zambezi River’s many channels during a brief visit to Mwambashi River Lodge in the Lower Zambezi National Park. I took a Manfrotto tripod on board which was fitted with a poor man’s gimbal head, the Manfrotto 393 Heavy Duty Telephoto Lens Support (also called Bogen 3421).

Manfrotto 393 gimbal head

The Manfrotto 393 (left) is around $180 from Amazon, compared to the $600-odd you’d pay for a Wimberley gimbal head. I guess if you can afford a $9,000 Canon or Nikon 600mm lens, then 600 bucks for a top-of-the-range gimbal head is well within budget, but regrettably I’m not in that league and my longest lens is a Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L telephoto.

This lens is not image-stabilised, so it’s essential to use a support and, for my purposes, the Manfrotto 393 works just fine, with either a Canon EOS 50D or EOS 1D Mk II body. For a comprehensive review of this head, see Manfrotto 393 gimbal head by Richard Peters Photography.

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