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Heron Hitting the Water Nabs First Place in Photo Contest

Photo for: Heron Hitting the Water Nabs First Place in Photo Contest

A great blue heron fluttering feet first into the water at Colvin Grove Preserve in Joliet landed in first place in the November portion of the Preserve the Moment photo contest. 

The photo was taken by Mark Rupsis of Joliet. Judges selected the picture because it captures the precise moment the heron’s feet touch the water and the action is reflected in the shimmering surface below.

Rupsis said he often bikes through Colvin Grove with his wife, Celeste, but this time he decided to hike the Rock Run Greenway Trail to see if he could spot some deer at the edge of the water. 

"I stood at the edge of the pond and I could see the heron coming in from my left," he said. "I brought my camera up and said, 'Here we go!' I snapped off five pictures as it was coming in for a landing. This was the best of the five."

Rupsis said he loves the preserves and is a frequent visitor. He still remembers the first time he hiked through Hammel Woods when it was at peak fall colors. "It took my breath away," he said.

Rupsis is an architect and he said he is always on the lookout for interesting visual scenes in nature. 

"You don't realize how much beauty there is in the area until you start walking the trails. If you keep your eyes open, you can see a lot of things." 

Honorable mentions for November were awarded to:

  • Michelle Wendling of Joliet for a picture of glowing golden carrion leaves at Hadley Valley in Joliet. 
  • Amy Miller of Joliet for a photo of two deer sniffing each other’s snouts at Rock Run Preserve in Joliet.
  • David Gruver of Lansing for a snapshot of a red fox speeding across a field at Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve in Crete Township.
  • Eileen Capodice of Minooka for a picture of a wondrous wintry landscape at McKinley Woods in Channahon.

All of the contest's photo entries can be viewed on the District's Flickr page.

Rupsis’ photo will compete with eight other monthly finalists for overall honors once the contest concludes on December 31. The top three finishers will be determined by voting on the District's Facebook page. The overall winners will receive MasterCard gift cards worth $500 for first place, $250 for second place and $150 for third place. Monthly winners receive $75 gift cards. 

The photo contest is sponsored by The Nature Foundation of Will County.

Contest participants may enter up to five digital photos per month. All photos must be uploaded via the District’s contest upload page. Be sure to fill out all of the required categories, including the date and location the photo was taken.


Photos must be taken by amateur photographers age 18 or older, and they must be snapped in a Will County forest preserve during the contest period, which began April 1. For instance, pictures taken at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, which is owned by the U.S. Forest Service, and Pilcher Park, which is a City of Joliet park, will not qualify for the contest.

For a list of all Forest Preserve locations, check out the District's preserve page and be sure to read the contest rules before entering. Entries not adhering to the rules will automatically be disqualified.


Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family. If you're only interested in programs, subscribe to The Weekly Five, which outlines the five must-do programs each week. Signing up for either newsletter is easy and free of charge.



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