Now that I know the Night-Herons are around I keep an eye out where I have seen them perch. They tend to tuck into the interior edges of the trees, where you can often see their outline but not get a good shot.
Occasionally they hop out on an exterior branch and that sometimes is a prelude to a flight. Below you can make out two Anhinga sharing the tree. The Anhinga have been quite aggressive chasing off the Great Blue Herons but so far I haven’t seen them gang up on the Night Herons.
These Night Herons are very pale on their chests and under their wings, which is not much contrast in front of all these shiny sticks.
Their red eyes do stand out, though.
This one surprised me when he landed near me and I got a nice look at his colors, including that fantastic eye!
Great Blue Heron parents take turns at the nest, the adult that leaves the nest feeds himself and sometimes brings food back for the chicks. In this exchange of duties the adult and chicks on the nest were well aware that the other parent was coming in as he first landed in a tree to the left.
The incoming adult then walked down some branches and pushed his way onto the nest; there is not a lot of room.
The adults stood together for several minutes, some kind of Heron communication going on.
Then number two was off, taking the reverse path up the branch then disappearing towards the river.
After (s)he was gone the remaining adult assumed the watch, the chicks squawked a bit, then they settled down.
A group of about twenty Great Egrets have taken over an area of the Audubon Swamp recently cleared of invasive cattails and other weeds. Some have started nests and others are still concentrating on their flirting skills.
I got to this spot about a half hour before sundown when there wasn’t quite enough light for sharp shots at this distance. The favored trees where most of the Great Egret mating dance activity was going on are facing the other side of the open water with no human access points.
A few of the Egrets did stop and pose in clearer areas, before they looped around again to impress potential mates.
It’s easy to overlook the Little Blue Herons around the swamp and pond right now with the flurry of Great Egret and Great Blue Heron mating and nest building going on. Occasionally one will land right in front of you, showing off the shimmery blue color.
This one was looking around, using these dead branches to get different views into the water.
Then just a short flying hop to the next vantage point, the Little Blues are just as graceful as the larger wading birds.
He finally waded into the water creating a nice reflection, but I never saw him even try to spear something to eat.
The chicks have started to hatch and what a sight! These photographs are highly cropped and not the best quality due to the distance and small size of the chicks. Based on activity I have seen and other photographers’ observations these two might be three or four days old. Photos as they grow should be better!
A nest closer to the walk way also has two chicks that I could see. That pair was younger and much smaller so the photos I took may not amount to anything; I started with the best first.
The adult seemed content to bask in the late day sun as the little ones bounced around the nest. I am looking forward to documenting their growth.