Monday, December 9, 2013

A Case of Misidentification

A couple weeks ago I headed out to LaSalle to see what the early shows of migrating water birds would be at this perennial hot spot over the cooler and colder months of the year.  As I arrived, I made my usual, eager first check of the open knot whole of the tree by the parking lot for the Eastern Screech Owl I have yet to see with the same results as all the other times - nothing. 

But my excitement was soon to be returned when I passed an older gentleman who had the look and confidence in his delivery which made me eagerly believe that there were apparently a pair of bitterns down by the boardwalk, on the water side.  Bitterns are quite secretive birds, and the stretch of trees between the boardwalk and the sandy shore of the lake is not very wide.  I was somewhat confused, but quickened my pace none the less.  I was looking in the brush as I approached, and kept casting glances to the opposite side where there is more long grass which is more typical of how it likes to  conceal itself. The time of year also seemed suspicious, but who knows, maybe a pair that were slow breeders and are in a mad rush to migrate south?

Bumping into another set of men with cameras, I mentioned the previous gentleman's note to me, and they pointed up, into the trees.  Sure enough, there were two, streaky, brown birds perched in the tree branches over our heads ahead of us.  However, they were not bitterns, but Juvenile Black-Crowned Night Herons.  Who knows, maybe the gentleman was having a good chuckle somewhere, or he simply had the bird names mixed up. I'll never know as I never saw him again. Unfortunately, I had to give the other two men that bad news as they had in fact thought they were looking at bitterns.  But, they were just as excited with the correct ID as they'd not seen this bird before either.  My own look at a Bittern still goes unsuccessful so far though.

juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron
posing as a bittern.

The rest of my visit wasn't filled with anything else new in the bird department, but I did get some nice pictures of a pair of Carolina Wrens (only one of them really).  They were busy chirping at each other as they foraged on the forest floor and around fallen logs.  They were quite preoccupied and I was able to creep up quite close to them.  In fact, I should have counted on my stealth more, as I took opportunity of one of the birds turning the corner around and behind a log.  When I came on it, we both stopped and looked at each other, hardly more than five or six meters apart.  I hadn't gotten my camera ready.  When I moved slowly, it only partially moved away and allowed a few moments for a couple shots.

Carolina Wren foraging for bugs.

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

As I walked back to the car, one of the White-breasted Nuthatches must have been jealous of all the attention its neighbour had gotten, and posed right in front of me.

White-breasted Nuthatch

I'll have to get back to this location again soon, I'm sure the various diving birds have increased in numbers.  I saw my Uncle John this past weekend, a birder as well, and he recently had gotten a nice set of pictures he showed me of the selection that's building there.

Until then...
Keep enjoying HIS handiwork.

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