I featured this Great Egret nest as the pair was starting to build. They had made some progress about 10 days later.
Look between the Great Egrets’ legs for a peek at one of the Great Blue Heron chicks in his nest.
The Great Egret pair showing some affection in between grooming activities,
From a different angle you can see how close together these nests are. On this day there was one Great Blue Heron nest, three Great Egret nests and one Anhinga nest. The Anhinga nest has since either failed or was raided and is no longer there.
On a recent trip to the rookery one some work was being done near a nesting area to remove some debris before the birds start their nests. A few Great Egrets treated us to an aerial show as they shifted around while work was in progress.
The flights provided a variety of shooting opportunities, with various wing poses and backgrounds as the circled around to return to their spots.
Coming in for a landing with a squawk:
I am amazed by the ability of these huge birds to navigate through branches.
A beautiful blue sky with fluffy clouds completes a classic flying shot.
Two pairs of Great Egrets are nesting condo style, their homes less than two feet apart separated only by a small branch. This is a prized location, surrounded by water for extra safety from ground predators, so there was competition for the nest sites.
Their nests claimed, each pair went about its business this sunny afternoon.
The ritual is very similar to what I have observed with the Great Blue Heron pairs: bring sticks, re-arrange sticks, mate, bring sticks.
Squawking from the other nest is mostly ignored, a lot like humans living in close proximity.
The spot this Great Egret pair have chosen doesn’t look like much despite a lot of activity bringing and re-arranging sticks.
They have a ways to go before this will hold an egg. This may be why some Great Egrets will aggressively steal nests from other birds.
They spend a lot of time posturing and pushing. Other pairs that I have observed appear to be about the same size but the male of this couple is considerably larger, and pushier.
Every stick that comes to the site gets moved two or three times.
Time out for a few words then a quick trip for another stick.
These photographs were taken in the late morning with the sun behind the Great Egrets. This provided nice light through the wings but leaves their heads in shadow. Once again out in the pond would be the ideal place to stand.
Ignoring the flurry of mating and nesting activity in the pond behind him this Great Egret enjoyed the afternoon sun on his own. His long feather plumes of breeding season are neatly tucked in but he can’t hide that neon green face patch.
Lichen and moss add a little interest to early spring photographs before the trees have leafed out.
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.