A THREE SPECIES MOMENT – GREAT EGRET, BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON AND BLACKBIRD IN THE CATTAILS!

Beautiful but fleeting surprise spring sighting at Bass Rocks this weekend- a male Red-winged Blackbird collecting cattail fluff for nest building, and two species of herons foraging, a Great Egret and Black-crowned Night Heron. Oh Joyous Spring!

EYE TO EYE WITH A BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON

I so love chance encounters with wild creatures and this young Black-crowned Night heron did not disappoint. He stayed close to the rocky embankment, stealthily foraging for small shrimp in the dark crevices at mid-tide. The youngster did not seem to mind my presence; after a bit of time passed I walked away and when I returned he continued to steadily fish.

Scratching, preening, wing-stretches, and standing on one leg.

Eventually stopping to preen, stand on one leg, and then, walking aways from where he was feeding–how do I say this politely–took a huge enormous poop. Off he then flew to the marsh with a signature quark.

Black-crowned Nigh Herons are making a comeback in our region for several reasons, most notably because the pesticide DDT was banned and because the quality of our water has improved. During the 1950s, folks who did not care for midnight quarks coming from Black-crowned Night Heron nests either shot them dead out of trees or dynamited the rookeries.

This past spring there were the most Black-crowned Night Herons I have ever seen in one tree at Niles Pond. If I recall correctly, there were nine in all! 

Mature Black-crowned Night Heron, Niles Pond

The Black-crowned Night Herons proper name (Nycticorax nycticorax) translated from Ancient Greek is Night Raven, suggesting its nocturnal feeding habits. I like to refer to them as the onomatopoeic Quarky birds and unknown to me, until I began writing this post, in the Falkland Islands, the bird is called Quark.

Off to the marsh.

MR. AND MRS. QUARKY PANTS HAD A BABY!

Black-crowned Night Heron Gloucester -1 ©Kim Smith 2015For the past several months on my filming forays around Niles Pond I have encountered a pair of Black-crowned Night Herons. With a loud quark, at least one flies up into the trees as soon as my presence is detected and I can never get a closeup photo with both in the same shot.Black-crowned Night Heron Gloucester -4 ©Kim Smith 2015

I was wondering if they were a nesting pair or even husband and wife; I mean they could be siblings. Today before daybreak I saw their fledgling, but only for the briefest second.

Black-crowned Night Heron fledgling Gloucester -5 ©Kim Smith 2015Hoping to take a better shot of the fledgling (above) before it gains its adult feathers.

Black-crowned Night Heron Gloucester -2 ©Kim Smith 2015It flew off, along with one of the parents, but one did stay while I was recording daybreak foley.

Black-crowned Night Heron Gloucester -3 ©Kim Smith 2015

Black-crowned Night Heron standing on one leg, a characteristic many birds share, which they do primarily to conserve energy and body heat.

Black-crowned Night Heron Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2015A Face Only a Mother Could Love

Sunrise Niles Pond ©Kim Smith 2015

Today’s Niles Pond Sunrise