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Heron's Hunt Wins May Photo Contest

Photo for: Heron

Eileen Capodice of Minooka has been chosen the winner of the May portion of the Forest Preserve District's Preserve the Moment photo contest.

Capodice's photo of a great blue heron at Rock Run Rookery Preserve with a northern water snake in its mouth beautifully captured the bird's successful hunt, contest judges decided.

Capodice said she was excited to be able to capture the scene, because she enjoys photographing the great blue herons at Rock Run Rookery in Joliet. She had been at the preserve for awhile and had already been taking photos of the bird nearby when the magic moment occurred.

"I looked away for a second to change a setting on my camera, and that's when I heard a noise," she explained, adding that she looked up to see the heron with the snake in its mouth.

The heron struggled with the snake for a time, with the snake wrapping itself around the bird's beak and the heron then whipping it off, she said.

"It wasn't a quick thing," Capodice said. "He struggled for quite a little bit."

She said the moment was difficult to capture on camera because of all the action going on, with the bird and snake moving from the struggle of the hunt and nearby plants blowing in the wind.

Capodice took up photography as a hobby years back, while living in Colorado. She moved back to Will County about three years ago and has kept up with photography. Her favorite preserves to visit are Rock Run Rookery and McKinley Woods in Channahon. 

Rock Run Rookery became a favorite of hers because of the bald eagles that are common there in the winter months. She has also enjoyed learning about everything else she sees there and taking photos along the way.

"Rock Run (Rookery) is usually a place where I tend to find some cool stuff," she said. "A lot of times I luck out with my timing."

As the winner of the May photo contest, Capodice's photo will compete with eight other monthly winners for overall honors after the contest ends December 31. Each monthly finalist will receive a $75 MasterCard gift card.

In addition to Capodice's win, honorable mentions were awarded to:

  • Naomi Fortino of Orland Park for her photo of spiderwort with an insect hovering nearby at McKinley Woods – Kerry Sheridan Grove in Channahon.
  • Greg Johnson of Bolingbrook for red-winged blackbirds at Whalon Lake in Naperville.
  • Evi Kempf of Naperville for a photo of a dandelion with its seed blowing away in the wind at Lake Renwick Preserve in Plainfield.
  • Robert Schwaan of Lemont for a row of mallard ducklings at Centennial Trail.
  • Joseph Traina of Joliet for a yellow warbler at Rock Run Preserve.

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

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.

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


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