Wednesday, June 26, 2013

heron hunting

The large field next to our house was part of a ginormous tree nursery that went out of business about five years ago. Luckily all 2,000 acres of the nursery (not all next to our house) were purchased by a consortium of state and local sources and are going to be converted into park and wildlife areas. The baby trees are gone, and although a local farmer is still planting in some of the fields, much of the land is reverting to a more natural state.

In the lot next to us, beavers have dammed up the small creek that runs through it, and a pond is starting to form. Grasslands are transitioning to scrub brush. Most exciting, great blue herons have started to nest in the far corner of the property.

We heard about the nests last year, but neglected to investigate before the babies fledged. Returning from a run, I heard crazy loud gutteral squawking noises that could only be the babies competing for food. I ran back home, grabbed my camera, put on my red rubber boots, and headed back out again with the dog, who I took pity on, before I could miss the opportunity for another year.

Unfortunately I forgot (until I was on the road in front of our house) that I was also wearing my bright pink running skirt with a purple shirt. I remembered once a few patients passed me on the way to my husband's office. Colorful, indeed. I beat a hasty retreat into the first path into the lot, which was probably not the best way to get to the nest.

Dusty was in his glory. I could let him off leash because the road was 200+ yards and a creek-crossing away. He had a ball leading the way across the corn stubble, which was the easier part of our journey. Our destination is the bare trees all the way in the back right.

Our path got considerably more difficult after the corn field.

We came across signs of the blue herons in the mud at the water's edge. They visit our pond quite frequently, presumably to fish, but we don't have mud flats on the sides so I never realized just how big their feet were!

Dusty and I finally had to call a halt to our journey—we couldn't get any closer.

Luckily it was close enough to get some half-way decent pictures. Let me zoom in a bit...

At least four baby fledgings, and a bonus egret lower down in the tree. I could not tell if the heron on the far right was a fledging or adult, but given its proximity to the right-hand nest in the crook of the tree and its failure to fly away at my approach, I think it was a fledgling as well.

Mission accomplished! Back home we trekked, and I don't think Dusty even minded the bath too much.

No comments:

Post a Comment