Sometimes, or more accurately, rarely, a big surprise happens. You look out at your feeder and a bird you hadn’t seen in years is perched enjoying a meal. Or you are taking a winter stroll on a New England beach and notice a snowy owl resting in the distance.
The other day, I was treated to a few surprises on a much smaller magnitude. They came at a small park with a tiny pond in suburbia that typically has your normal birds. Crows and sparrows are the main birds with a few mallards in the pond.
On this particular day, however, things were a little different.
I normally drive right past the park without stopping or even casting a glance toward the pond, but something big and white caught my eye as being out of the ordinary. It was a great egret standing near the edge of the water. It wasn’t right at the edge where you would typically see an egret but rather 10 to 15 feet into the grass away from the pond. A sizable flock of Canada geese roamed around the grass near the egret.
The yellow-crowned night heron resembles the black-crowned night heron (featured a few days ago) with a few differences. The yellow-crowned night heron has a skinnier neck, for one. Just like the great egret may be found on the coast or inland, while the snowy egret tends to hug the coast; black-crowned night herons are more likely to be found away from the coast than yellow-crowned night herons.
Just like yesterday’s great egret photo, this photo of a snowy egret has stood the test of time. The copyright says 2015, but the photo was taken many years before that, in the Norwalk Harbor in Norwalk, Connecticut.
Snowy egrets are less likely to be seen away from the coast than great egrets, which can often be found far inland. Snowy egrets are much smaller than great egrets, as the name suggests. The photo below is pretty low in quality, but it gives you an idea of the size difference between the two. The snowy egret is on the left.
I took the above photo almost 20 years ago and it’s still one of my favorites. Central Park in New York City is a great place to see and photograph birds. It’s a large green oasis among a sea of concrete and steel.
The egret below was photographed in a slightly more “wild” place: the Norwalk River.
I find that green herons are typically difficult to photograph because they tend to be wary. On occasion, I have come across green herons that are so wrap up in finding food that they basically ignore me. Those are fun.
Yesterday I started a series of wader photos. I kicked off the series with the great blue heron, which is probably our most common and well known wader. The black-crowned night heron is not as well known, although it is fairly common along the coast and some inland waters during the summer.
Fall migration is in full swing and many of our spring and summer birds have left us already. Thankfully, we have great blue herons all year round. Most leave by the winter, but some remain with us (or try to at least) even through the most brutal seasons. It’s always a thrill to see great blue herons, or any birds for that matter, with a background of our famous New England fall foliage.
I’m still hobbled with tendinitis in my foot so I don’t have any exciting spring migration tales to share or fresh warbler photos to post. I do, however, have a ton of photos to share from a recent trip to Florida. Sure, they are not genuine New England birds but they’re still awesome. Savanna, Andrew and I spent last week in Florida for Andrew’s spring break. My brother recently retired to Naples and we visited Ed & Deb, as well as my niece Jessy (Ed’s daughter) & Kyle and their beautiful new daughter Raelynn. Yes, that makes me a great uncle for those scoring at home. Yikes!
There wasn’t a ton of time for bird walks, but Ed, Savanna and I did sneak in a few expeditions to the Everglades and local Naples parks. Here are some shots from the trip, jammed into one big blog post.
While we wait patiently for migrating warblers and other colorful songbirds to arrive in New England, some birds have already started the nesting process. Owls, of course, started a while ago and other birds of prey also get an early jump.
I’ve been watching great blue herons build and repair nests at a small rookery near the Danbury Fair mall. It’s funny to see these large, wild birds fly over a busy shopping mall with sticks in their bills. It is good to see, however, that they are adapting to human encroachment.
The other day I saw two mute swans and one Canada goose on nests at a small pond.
It’s an exciting time of year in the birdwatching world with nesting starting and the spring migration beginning to heat up.
Here’s an old shot I took of an osprey building its nest.