Thursday, June 21, 2012

Early Morning Traipsing

Last Friday evening, all of my family (less my brother and sister-in-law out west) gathered at my sister and brother-in-law's beautiful place on 4 acres south of Brantford. We were combining the birthday celebrations of three June birthdays into a night of BBQ, campfire, and a camp-out in their back yard. The adults loved it almost as much as the kids who were quite thrilled to spend time with their cousins and enjoying staying up past mid-night ending with a night in a tent trailer or tent. Although most of the kids were impervious, the late night for me didn't keep the birds from an awakening at 4:30am. Their full volume met the morning light with gusto, and the thin layer of the tent did nothing to let me sleep in.  By 5:30am, my brother Dan also awoke and followed through on his plan to sit in the small bush in the back yard beside a good sized pond.  I joined him with a couple of the older kids in tow who had also not slept in.

The morning skies were full of singing, and stirring birds.  A Great Blue Heron traveled across neighbouring farmer's fields to its hunting grounds for the day.

Great Blue Heron flies across early morning skies.

And the rising sun glistened off the night's dew left condensed on the surrounding corn fields.

Morning haze over corn field.
Dan capturing sun's reflections off dew.

The night before, my sister had mentioned the small herons they had often seen around the pond - Dan and I were eager to see if we could track them down. We heard them calling with what Cornell's Bird Site indicates is an "advertising" call.  You can hear the call here.  The vocalization has a deceiving effect - it is not very loud and yet, the sound travels well.  But when you hear it, the bird is often much closer than first though.  So as we followed the sound, very often the bird would be perched in a tree, closer than anticipated, and more than once we'd find the bird by having flushed it off it's perch only to have to track it down again.

Green Heron in the top of a Spruce tree -
the first clear view
We spent a couple hours walking through the "bush", back out over the fence and following what ended up being three of these little herons.  We'd end up following as they would avoid our approaches and fly to a dead Elm tree in the open, and then as we approached, they'd head back to the cover of the trees and pond again.

Green Heron in dead Elm tree mobbed by Starlings

While traipsing around, there were other sights to see too....

Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly

Red Admiral Butterfly

But finally we got a closer look at these small herons. The green colour is not clearly apparent, but their lightly edged feathers do in fact have a green hue to them, contrasting against the rusty breast feathers. Case in point on my comment about the "advertising call" being deceiving, I must have walked right under/past this bird.  Dan was on the other side and got much closer pictures. I'm not sure if he will post as he's created (but not really started) a blog as well.

Green Heron

This is what the Green Heron looks like when it's making
the advertising call.

This is the closest I ended up getting, though not a unobstructed view.

Green Heron
Obstructed, but the closest shot I got of the herons.

A neighbour also had a small pond with open edges, and a solitary Spotted Sandpiper was perusing the water's edge for breakfast.

Spotted Sandpiper

We spent a few hours that morning circling around and waiting for the light "boink" sound to give us a clue as to where one of the three birds were.  Two new life birds too - the Green Heron and Spotted Sandpiper. It got me itching to do some more exploring and longer excursions some day. I'm hoping sometime this summer something will work out if Dan ends up with a holiday to spare. Hint, hint.

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