Sunday, March 13, 2011

Herons on the Move



Saturday morning I stopped at Wild Bird Rescue and noticed several white pelicans heading into the small cove at the boat ramp. The pelicans seem to like this little cove to herd fish. It is not easy to get close to the pelicans--they are able to see you approach some distance away and take flight. However, I decided to give it a try and to see if I could get a reasonable picture with my little point and shoot camera. As usual, the birds toook flight before I was able to get very close, although I did get a reasonable picture.

What as a surprise was as the pelicans started to get agitated, 10 great blue herons (GBH) also flushed up out of the cove. Although the herons are frequent vsitors to the cove, 1o is a large number for this small an area. There was also a green heron, a frequent visitor to the cove.

I am thinking these are migrating great blue heron. Although the GBH is a year round resident of our area, they do migrate--they ddo leave the northernmost portion of their range in the winter. It has always been a question in my mind whether the birds we have here in the winter are the same birds we have in the summer. Do the birds from up north just shift southward, and then like a set of dominoes, the birds continue to shift south, or do the northern birds just go to the southernmost portion of their range. I don't think anyone has a clear answer to that question.

This morning, I stopped again. In addition to several GBH this morning, there was a small flock of 5 great egrets in the cove. Although I periodically saw a single great egret this winter, this larger group signals the return of our summer herons and egrets.

After checking out the cove, I headed over to the chat trail and the barrow pit. My favorite sighting of the morning was 2 white-throated sparrows. Although they are here in the winter, they tend to be somewhat secretive, you you don't see them much. In addition to these birds, today's sightings included: double-crested cormorant, killdeer, Canada goose, northern pintail, bufflehead, ring-necked duck, mallard, American coot, ruddy duck, Wilson's snipe, Eurasian collared dove, mourning dove, northern mockingbird, yellow-rumped warbler, robin, cedar waxwing, blue jay, cardinal, Carolina chickadee, Eastern phoebe, European starling, red-winged blackbird, great-tailed grackle, white-crowned sparrow, dark-eyed sparrow, and song sparrow.

Good birding!

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