I was told that there was a cattle egret at Hart's Basin, so here I am hunting for it — better than washing dishes but they'll be waiting for me when I get home. We've had less water this year (and it's receding rapidly) so most of the shore bird activity has been along the west shore, adjacent to Vela's ranch.
The most productive place has been to park near the Black Canyon Audubon's "shorebird sign" and then look along the shore. I see gulls, lovely avocets, a bunch of all-black ibis and some sleeping pelicans. But the dry, tawny salt grass often holds shorebirds. Spotting scope up and slowly scan ... I see three plain gray willets. Now I see a mallard's head so there's still water back there. And there's something white ... I'm sure it's a bird.
It moves a bit ... the back might be about a foot long. And up comes a white head! There are lovely orange feathers draped from the bright orange bill down the back of the neck! Now it stretches up and I can see the entire bird ... it's white with a brownish splash down the back. How pretty.
Each season two species of egret visit our reservoir. The Great or Common Egret, about the size of our sandhill cranes, is totally white with a long, bright yellow bill. The smaller Snowy Egret is white with black legs and bill. Both are native to our continent.
Non-native birds such as this cattle egret are usually introduced by humans, but this bird got here on its own! A native of Africa, it appeared in South America in the 1880s and reached Florida and Texas around 1950. So it's considered to be an invading species and now occurs far inland, even to our reservoir.
The heron group native to our continent includes seven species. Here we have the great egret, the snowy, the great blue heron, and black-crowned night-heron.
A truck rushes by, leaving a wash of turbulent air. My bird is disturbed and takes flight. It pulls its head back into the shoulders, heron-fashion. Another good bird for the day.blog comments powered by Disqus