BC Night-Heron at Mason Reg. Park
- Have you ever seen a Black-crowned Night-Heron
swimming like a duck? Well, today was the first
time we have ever seen such a thing, and it seemed
so out of character for the species, as we had
previously seen them, and just a bit humorous.
When we first saw the bird, it was on the wooden
boat dock on the back side of the lake in the
southwestern area of the park. It was in a
classic motionless crouched pose, peering down
into the water. After we passed, it flew up into
a nearby small pepper tree at the water's edge.
And that was that, we thought.
After about ten minutes of watching warblers and
whatever, including a particularly lovely
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, in the thicket alongside the
path, we looked back for the heron in the pepper
tree. We noticed instead what looked like a very
strange gull floating on the water about 25 yards
out. A quick look through the bins let us know,
to our complete surprise, that it was the Night-Heron!
It stayed out on the water for some time, allowing
us to walk back and scope it. We thought at first
that it might be standing in shallow water, its
long legs keeping the body up at surface level.
Not the case at all. It was floating. The body
angle was slightly breast down/tail up, the head
was held up as gulls do, and those feet were
"paddling like a duck."
We were hoping to see it catch a fish, but that
didn't happen while we watched, although we could
see fish jumping out of the water all around the
heron. The water was, to my eyes, an opaque jade
green, so I wouldn't be surprised if the bird
couldn't even see the fish in the water. Perhaps
they have the mythical "x-ray vision."
Before we left the area, we got to watch the heron
did take flight from the water, going back up to
its tree perch. Oh, yes, it was an adult.
A real bonus...the honeysuckle is in full fragrance!
Good birding to you all,
Fullerton, North Orange County