Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Where the Herons Are

 [Little Blue Heron, foreground, and Tricolored Heron, back, north of Stone Harbor Causeway, NJ last Saturday.]

It seems to me there are fewer herons and egrets hunting the marshes south of Stone Harbor than there used to be, perhaps because there is no significant rookery in the immediate area of these marshes.  There is one north of the Stone Harbor causeway on Gull Island, however, and Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Glossy Ibis, Black-crowned Night-Herons, and a few of the scarcer Little Blue and Tricolored Herons and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons were busy flying too and fro and quarreling and cackling amongst the shrubs and Phragmites there when we kayaked around the island on Saturday.

As I alluded to below, another place where there are many herons is Tuckerton. Where these birds derive from, in terms of nesting, I don't know, but the numbers foraging there were noteworthy: 3 Great Blue Heron, 247 Great Egret (actual count),50 Snowy Egret, 4 Little Blue Heron, 8 Tricolored Heron,20 Black-crowned Night-Heron, and 30 Glossy Ibis.

 [Immature Yellow-crowned Night-heron near Gull Island. The fine speckling on the back has worn away, but the bird's heavy all black bill is a good field mark, as are the longer legs and neck compared to Black-crowned.]

 [Gull Island is well named, with nesting Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls (here on a nest) on the island itself and of course zillions of Laughing Gulls nearby. We saw a couple downy Great Black-backed chicks, already out on the beach with their parents.]

[This Great Egret at Cook's Beach took more than casual interest in the location of a Red-winged Blackbird nest. The male redwing tried to do his job and drive the egret away, but was pretty much ignored. The egret did not succeed in finding the nestlings while we watched.]

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