Monday, October 19, 2015

Marsh Birds!


They're back! The marsh birds are back! We took a walk on Sunday and the ponds were full of birds. Most of them were too far away to photograph well or even identify, but their presence was enough to make us feel reassured that the effects of climate change had not driven them all from their winter home. Some enjoyed floating around in the duckweed, while others preferred the open blue water. They were everywhere!

We walked around enjoying all the geese flying overhead, and were dazzled by two Snowy Egrets flying close enough for us to get a look at their striking yellow feet. It was a wonderful bird-filled day. We were happily heading back to the car when a very nice man stopped us and asked, "Have you see the Bittern?" We answered that we hadn't, but wouldn't really know for sure, since we had never seen one before. He pulled out his iPhone, hit his iBird app, and showed us what the American Bittern looks like. He said, "Go over to that tree and look into that pond toward the back. It likes to hide." So we thanked him and thanked him again, and headed over to the tree.
Ah yes, there it was. Pretty far away, but still visible. I tried to zoom in as much as I could with the 60X optical zoom, and this is the best I could do. It is a very shy bird. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology website says of the American Bittern, "A stocky and well-camouflaged heron of dense reed beds, the American Bittern is difficult to see. Its far-carrying booming call is distinctive, but the bittern itself likes to keep under cover." Yes, that is absolutely true.

We are so jazzed to have the marsh birds back, and this lovely creature really made it an especially fantastic visit to the marsh.


14 comments:

  1. a lucky thing you ran into that fellow! you've now spotted the illusive Bittern and even captured its likeness! bravo.

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  2. If they're as elusive as the European variety then you're very lucky indeed to have seen the bittern. Like you I always look forward to the winter migrants arriving.

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  3. Glad to see you have settled in to your new home and checking out the surrounding area. Sounds like you need to invest in some Binoculars to check out the birds

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  4. Wow! Arcata Marsh is certainly a paradise for water birds. So many of them in that one photo. Amazing. And a bittern, too!

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  5. Tara-- We were so glad that the guy stopped us to tell us about the bird. We would have never seen it without his help. What a wonderful man.

    John-- I think our American Bitterns are as elusive as the Eurasian Bitterns. So, we really felt lucky to have had the opportunity to see this one. Yes! to the migrations.

    Bill-- Oh yes, we love our new home and being able to stay in our new hometown of Arcata. It's been more than a year since we moved here, and the marsh is definitely one of our favorite places. I was just thinking about new binoculars!

    am-- The marsh really is quite the place for wintering birds. Lovely temperate climate and a big club of ardent fans. The Audubon Society meets there every Saturday morning for a hike!

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  6. I've only ever seen an American Bittern once, and it was a real treat. You are SO lucky to have seen this!

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  7. Scott-- I had no idea how lucky we were until I started reading about them. Wow. I don't know why that man stopped us to tell us about the Bittern, but we will be forever grateful that he did.

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  8. You had previously posted about your concern over the lack of birds. You can exhale now-- all is well.
    What a nice fellow and how great are i phones that you have such information at your fingertips even in the middle of nature.

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  9. Lucky you. I'm sure the man recognized the two of you as intelligent people worthy of viewing a bittern.

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  10. Arkansas Patti-- Yes, exhale is definitely the right word. We were pretty worried. It was very cool that the nice fellow could show us exactly what we should be looking for. The very best of our crazy modern world.

    NCmountainwoman-- We felt very lucky!

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  11. Sounds like a nice walk. Nice shot of the American bittern. It reminds me of a shot I took of a snowy egret in a swamp near New Orleans a few years ago. I need to find that shot again ...

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  12. Mark-- It was a nice walk, and we were so happy to see the ponds full of birds again. Glad you liked the Bittern photo. It was really so kind of that man to tell us about this wonderful, secretive bird. I hope you find your snowy egret photo, I'd love to see it.

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