At the North Pond, I’ve seen great-blue herons, green herons, bitterns, cormorants, and black-crowned night herons, both adult and juvenile, as well as all kinds of geese, ducks, gulls, and other water birds, to the point where I supposed there was nothing new to see.
On a recent afternoon, though, I happened to see an unfamiliar bird wading along the west shore of the pond under a tree. It turned out to be a grey heron.
Its silhouette is distinctive. The grey heron has a longer neck than the great blue heron and a more slender body. Unlike the great-blue, the grey heron tends to hold its neck straighter, showing off its great height and graceful profile. The grey heron has a monochromatic plumage, with few specialized feathers, whereas the great-blue heron often has rust-colored plumage, feathers of various colors and texture, and a jaunty tuft of long feathers at the back of its head.
Also, this bird was wading in the shallows, moving around as it hunted (it even caught a fish while I was watching). This is very different from the great-blue herons I’ve seen at the pond, who are usually perched on snags, and which I have seldom seen casually wading around.
I took a number of photos of the heron, but the light conditions were not too promising, and I was worried about the bird flying away. None of the pictures is very good, but they do capture some of the excitement of seeing a mysterious new bird, especially a big bird like this that blends in so beautifully with its surroundings. I’m really quite lucky to have seen it at all.
Click images to enlarge.