Thursday, November 20, 2008

Little Blue Persists

20 November - Snow, Clouds, Sun, and a Little Blue

Today was actually a pretty good day, even if it was a work day. I don't mean to imply that I was slightly depressed. No, I actually like the winter weather, it keeps the bird feeder visitors interesting. The "Little Blue" is a Little Blue Heron, Egretta caerulea, a surprise visitor that has been hanging around Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary since November 7th (I wrote about this bird and its unexpected status in an earlier post). Since its arrival the weather has turned decidedly more wintry.

Little Blue Heron in the snow, center stage in the
little open water left on Sapsucker Woods Pond.

Many of us have been checking to see if the Little Blue is around each day, wondering when the weather will finally drive it to warmer temperatures farther south.

The sky cleared later in the day. Though not
seen directly, the sun made its presence known,
casting a cool light across Sapsucker Woods.

The Little Blue spent the late afternoon
perched on a snowy log
after a successful day
hunting in the shrinking patch of open water.

As I was photographing the bird from inside the Cornell Lab of Ornithology the clouds allowed a burst of sun light before sundown. With views like this, is it any wonder we spend so much time watching out of the staff lounge, birds or no birds?

Read more about Little Blue Herons at the All About Birds website.

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Guy D said...

Great shots, I especially like that last one.

Regina In Pictures

My Precious Niche said...

Great shot! I specifically love the last photo!

Anonymous said...

Very nice shots Mike!
One problem, though.
From the looks of it - it's very unlikely that it is a Little Blue Heron, that you saw. From posture and what is visible it's is most likely to be a Snowy Egret.
While immature Little Blue Herons are white during their first 6 months, this time of year they they begin to show blue streaks and spots - and then - 6 months later they are entirely slate blue to plum colored.
But most of all - you don't find them up in NY in winter at all.
Cheers, Klaus

Yen said...

Those are very well captures photos!~

Mine is, HERE. See yah!

Anna said...

Your skies are gorgeous. I can see why you spend so much time outside, birds or no birds.

Little Blue looks cold.

noflickster said...

Thanks for the comments, the last image posted was the "lucky shot" of the day. I was just packing up to go home when the clouds allowed the sun to peek through, immediately changing the look and the feel of Sapsucker Woods.

Klaus - thanks for the detailed comment! When it comes to unusual birds it's always worth questioning the presumed identity. While neither Snowys or Little Blues are expected, especially this late in the year, Little Blues do have a record of showing up every so often. Snowys are much more unlikely than Little Blues in our region of NY (though when it comes to birds, never say never).

Also, this bird has been positively identified by several very experienced birders Everyone's first hope was Little Egret, the rarest of the rare, but the diagnostic features are clearly Little Blue Heron. (One of the benefits of working in a conservation organization filled with ornithologists and hardcore birders is that very few unusual birds are misidentified!)

There are much better shots of this bird than these that show the stockier and paler bill in more detail as well as the completely yellowish legs (immature Snowys would show a thinner bill with less pale coloring at the base and the front side of their mostly-yellow legs would be black; adult Snowys would show black legs with yellow feet). My earlier post shows a closer shot with more detail, and others got even better images.

Thanks again, everyone!

fishing guy said...

Mike: What neat sky captures you have shown. I love your Little Blue Heron shots and your other photo is much better.

babooshka said...

Darkly atmosperic images.

Louise said...

I think I would sit in the lounge and just look, too! Nice post.

Erin said...

lovely shot...i have to say my favorite is the last :)

Tuga7 said...

Great photos, nicely done!

Sparverius said...

Is this little guy still hanging around?

noflickster said...

Thanks again for all the comments! Regarding the status of the bird, it hasn't been reported since November 21st, the day after the pictures I took. It was present through several snow showers during its stay, which seems to have lasted until the pond completely iced over. Hopefully it found its way to a nice, warm, southern wintering area!

Thanks again, everyone,

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