The large wading bird chicks grow fast. It seems like the Great Egret chicks are doing so at a faster rate than the Great Blue Herons but it’s hard to know for sure.
I took these sets of photos just 13 days apart. In the first photo of the Great Egrets the second chick is beak wrestling with the adult.
By the time of the second photo there isn’t much room for the adult in this tree side nest any more. The adults perch on side branches and stretch in with food.
In the top nest of this tree, the Great Blue Heron chick was upright but not very steady on April 15th.
On the 28th you can see his growth progress using the tree as a marker, much like a child’s doorway growth chart.
For perspective, here is the whole tree from the end of the pond taken April 28th. The Great Blue Heron nest is at the top left, there is a Great Egret nest with three chicks in the middle, and the Great Egret nest with the two chicks shown above is at the bottom. The greenery keeps the nest with three chicks from view from the side of the pond.
You can also see two ramps, the closer one has an Alligator peeking over the top and the further one has at least two gators draped on it. The further ramp is the one featured yesterday where the duckling escapade took place.
Iris in all sorts of colors are thriving around the swamp where I photograph the wading birds. This is some distance from the cultivated gardens and I’ve wondered if they were planted intentionally or just happened via a happy accident. Regardless, its a nice surprise to happen upon them.
The Great Egrets are in different stages of reproducing around the rookery, from fancy courting to feeding chicks.
This set of three nests arranged like stepped condos always has something going on.
A little later on the male took a loop around the tree on his way for more sticks for his mate. The Great Egrets regularly rob each others’ nests of sticks and some fall out so it is an ongoing job. The adult at the nest likes to have something to poke around, too.
Further down the pond a pair of Great Egret chicks were getting a meal. This nest is away from the trail and harder to see but it sure looks like the chicks don’t have much holding them in.
Unlike my post yesterday of a Great Blue Heron on a casual lunch stroll, this GBH was on a serious mission. Likely providing for chicks at a nearby nest, he needed to secure a more substantial meal.
The greenery he is standing on is not solid ground, but a floating patch of thatched weeds and cat tails with who knows what crawling around in it.
With great precision the GBH found a mudpuppy, probably in search of his own lunch.
The Heron threw him down onto the thatch a couple of times, perhaps to rinse off toxins as well as helping incapacitate the amphibian.
This wrestling went on for quite awhile and there were a couple of stabs involved. Suffice it to say the Heron won and I skipped the gory pictures.
A few gulps and the whole thing went down the Heron’s throat. I didn’t see where he went after he took off but I have seen the adults land in the nest and regurgitate food that looked like it could have been from a similar acquisition.