This post is mostly about “the others” – meaning those other herons who aren’t so well known as the Great Blue Herons. But some other others also have a way of popping into the photo opp when you least expect them.
And even the Great Blues, which you see almost every time you gaze across the marsh, can still surprise with new poses.
This bird gave me a double-take, because I didn’t recall ever seeing a Great Blue stand so perfectly erect. Just a moment later the same bird looked a lot stouter.
What I really love about this time of year, though, is that the small herons make themselves visible too. The Green Heron and the Black-Crowned Night Heron both stay hidden most of the time in early summer, but now that their young ones have left the nest both adults and juveniles are out and about, particularly as the sun sets.
Whether you see much green in its feathers or not, the Green Heron is, in my considered opinion, one of the snappiest dressers in the neighbourhood.
But both the Green Heron, at left below, and the juvenile Night Heron, at right below, have beautiful and striking patterns that nevertheless can serve as great camouflage in many marsh settings.
Other than the distinctive red eye, the juvenile Night Heron looks only slightly like its dowdy parent, below. The elder sports a nifty long white plume, but otherwise keeps the design simple.
The small herons keep their eyes open for small fish and frogs – and grab insects when they are close at hand. (Or close at foot; an insect landed on a Green Heron’s foot, below, and was snapped up in a flash.)
Whether in full light of day, the glow of sunset, or by the light of a full moon, there are few birds more striking than the Green Heron.
That being said, while you’re out looking for herons you never know who else might light up the evening. On one recent evening, a Wood Duck turned on the wattage before slipping back into the shadows.
And just as darkness falls, a couple times a year if you’re lucky, the Otters might suddenly join the party, splashing and diving and swimming circles around each other.
While you watch them they periodically perform an “up periscope” routine to get a closer look at you. And then after a few breathy barks, they suddenly disappear among the lily pads and the waters are still.