Sunday, August 11, 2013

LITTLE BLUE HERON

The bird above is an immature little blue heron.  It's hard to believe that this bird will be transformed into a dark gray and blue heron when it's an adult.  Little blues are about half the height of a great egret and they have a black tip on their beak where the egret has a solid yellow beak.  The little blue heron's head is more rounded on top than the egret's.   I noticed him a week ago up on the Holston River.  The remarkable thing about him is that he doesn't belong in East Tennessee or anywhere near here.  This is a bird that resides in the extreme South.  They populate coastal and fresh water areas of Florida, South Georgia, Mississippi and points even further South.  Every now and then I have the privilege of running into oddities, like the five great pelicans on Cherokee Lake last Fall.   They shouldn't be seen East of the Land Between The Lakes over on the Mississippi water shed.  The wood stork over on the Clinch River a couple years ago was a real find.  That's a Florida bird.  And so this little guy is a rarity and well worth seeking out.  I took my Gheenoe out this morning with the sole purpose of finding this little rascal and as you see - I found him.

The weather forcast was calling for storms all day, but the sky was clear and a bit overcast when I left home.  I'm tired of listening to the forcasts from weather people who are wrong more times than not.  I'm glad I ignored them this morning because I had a fantastic experience on the river in the Gheenoe.
I had the entire river to myself.  I guess everyone else was listening to the weather forcast.  
I followed close to the shoreline just in case a critter would show itself.  That's when I noticed a lot of black crowned night herons and green herons all together on one section of shoreline.  I suspect this is a nesting area as there were many juvenile black crowns flying about.
Juvenile black crowned night heron (above and below)

The adult black crowned night heron is directly below:

 Amazing, isn't it.  The Immature s look nothing like the adult.  Not even similar.
The green herons were flying from one tree to the next and landing deep within the interior of the dense foliage.  I couldn't get a decent shot of them.  I did, however, capture the magnificent specimen below:

The trees and button bushes standing in the water were full of evidence that herons were using them for shelter.  When I approached those trees, green herons flew in all directions while croaking their dissatisfaction at my intrusion.
On the second curve in the river I noticed two, what appeared to be great egrets.  One was standing in the water and the other was perched upon a log on shore.  The binoculars indicated a size difference.  I knew I had found him.  The engine was switched off and the electric trolling motor dropped into the drink.  I started photographing him at a hundred feet.

I verified his species for sure when I saw the black beak tip and the pale yellow legs.  He appeared to not see the boat.



Notice that he is standing on one leg.  How's he do that?


I know there's a lot of pictures of him but, you have to understand that he is a rarity in these parts and a person could go a lifetime and not run onto another one of these.  Of course, a trip to Louisiana, South Georgia or Florida would increase your chances.
He was spending a lot of time preening himself.  Every now and then he would pull a white feather out from his shoulder area and toss it away.  I would love to see him when he undergoes the transition from immature to adult.



I jotted down the grid coordinates of his position and slowly drew back away from him.  Enough is enough.  I felt good finding this guy.  If he stays in the area I surely will catch the transition from white to dark blue gray.  I still find that amazing.
And finally I noticed two love birds over in the shadows under the overhanging trees.   Those are great egrets.  I think they're in love.  Just look at them.  Togetherness!
Today was the last day off and it's back on the water tomorrow for work.  Storms are predicted but I don't care.  I love it.