Tag Archives: great blue heron (Ardea herodias)


Transient and fleeting.  A part of history as soon as they become the present.  Sometimes only captured by the mind’s eye and quickly faded into dim memories.

A Spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata) on a common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) (2010_03_14_051351)

Spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata) on common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

A great blue heron (Ardea herodias) standing in the shallows (2009_07_26_027929)

Great blue heron (Ardea herodias)

A twinflagged jumping spider (Anasaitis canosa) hiding on an outside electrical socket (2009_04_26_016720)

Twinflagged jumping spider (Anasaitis canosa)

A ring-billed gull (Larus delawarensis) in flight  (2009_11_26_041016)

Ring-billed gull (Larus delawarensis)

A blue-ringed dancer (Argia sedula) perched on a blade of grass (2009_07_07_026225)

Blue-ringed dancer (Argia sedula)

A barn spider (Neoscona crucifera) hanging in the center of her web (2009_10_10_031194)

Barn spider (Neoscona crucifera)

A swift setwing (Dythemis velox) perched on a stem (2009_07_06_026092)

Swift setwing (Dythemis velox)


It starts with a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) spending the rainy afternoon fishing in the shallows.  Along comes a great egret (Ardea alba).  The second bird approaches the first.  Then a funny territorial spat seems imminent.  The great blue heron displays and rushes to intercept the egret.  The great egret ignores and walks on by.

These photos cover about 15 seconds of time.  The first three show the heron moving toward the egret.  Meanwhile, the egret strolls casually as if unaware of the heron’s presence, let alone its challenge.

A great blue heron (Ardea herodias) giving a territorial wings-open display (2009_07_26_027839)
A great egret (Ardea alba) strolling by a defensive great blue heron (Ardea herodias) (2009_07_26_027840)
A great egret (Ardea alba) strolling by a defensive great blue heron (Ardea herodias) (2009_07_26_027841)
A great egret (Ardea alba) strolling by a defensive great blue heron (Ardea herodias) (2009_07_26_027842)
A great egret (Ardea alba) strolling by a defensive great blue heron (Ardea herodias) (2009_07_26_027843)
A great egret (Ardea alba) strolling by a defensive great blue heron (Ardea herodias) (2009_07_26_027844)

In the end, the heron seems almost nonplussed, deflated even, and the egret seems rather nonchalant, the epitome of that oft overused dismissive interjection: Whatever…

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As an aside, the rookery has blossomed.  All but the cattle egrets have arrived, and I suspect that species will make an appearance in the very near future.  Ibises, anhingas, egrets and herons fill the motte, not to mention the several dozen other bird species who nest and/or hunt there.  It looks to be another great year for this urban marvel.  I can’t wait to share it with you.

A few of my favorite things #5

Birds in the water.  Beauty can be found in any environment, yes, but water has such dynamic personality.  And its ability to reflect that which resides above it makes it all the more majestic as a backdrop, an in situ mirror that adds more than a touch of real or abstract flavor.

Yet my fascination runs deeper than the water.  I believe it has something to do with creatures with wings who soar on the wind that in turn spend so much time in the water, so much so that evolution has granted them webbed feet, spatulate bills, long legs and liquid-straining pouches.  What a marvelous dichotomy…

Snowy egret (Egretta thula) wading in the shallows (2009_09_27_029522)

Snowy egret (Egretta thula)

American coot (Fulica americana) swimming by me (2010_03_06_050437)

American coot (Fulica americana)

Pied-billed grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) swimming away from me (2009_11_01_036416)

Pied-billed grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)

Ring-billed gull (Larus delawarensis) swimming by me (2010_03_06_050489)

Ring-billed gull (Larus delawarensis)

American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) swimming toward me (2009_10_25_033970)

American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

Male lesser scaup (Aythya affinis) floating in the water (2010_03_06_050444)

Lesser scaup (Aythya affinis)

Great blue heron (Ardea herodias) wading into a creek (2009_09_05_028695)

Great blue heron (Ardea herodias)

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On a related note: The only nesters at the rookery at present are great egrets (Ardea alba).  But the time is now for the multitude of other bird species to arrive at this marvel that rests in the heart of the city.  The second major species has already made an appearance: anhingas (a.k.a. water turkey or snakebird; Anhinga anhinga).  I can’t wait to share this magic with you.  What a spectacle, what a mystery, and what a gift!

Scenes from Aransas

Despite uncooperative weather at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge during my visit last week, weather that made distance photography all but impossible, the fog and drizzle and thick clouds served one important purpose: to remind me that the clear view can sometimes obscure, that the richness of color and texture and form can sometimes be appreciated only when nature forces us to look at things differently.

A female bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) swimming in shallows just before sunrise (2009_12_13_043908)

Just before sunrise I stood at Jones Lake and watched a variety of wildlife start the day.  This lone female bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) swam lazily about the shallows.

A tricolored heron (a.k.a. Louisiana heron; Egretta tricolor) resting in a freshwater slough (2009_12_13_044364)

Alligators fill in warmer times the freshwater sloughs along the Heron Flats trail.  Too cool for the large reptiles to pose a threat, this tricolored heron (a.k.a. Louisiana heron; Egretta tricolor) seemed comfortably unconcerned with the cold-blooded dangers lurking in dens hidden around the area.

A male gadwall (Anas strepera) floating in a tidal marsh (2009_12_13_044380)

A plaintive, lonely cry.  That drew my attention to the tidal flats where this male gadwall (Anas strepera) floated by himself.  A few more calls and his mate scrambled from the marshy salt flat quite near where I stood.

A willet (Tringa semipalmata) flying over a foggy marsh (2009_12_13_044741)

Back at Jones Lake later in the afternoon, the weather had deteriorated significantly.  But the thickening fog couldn’t hide this willet (Tringa semipalmata) who flew in from the gray beyond and joined several friends near shore.

A great blue heron (Ardea herodias) standing on a salt flat in thick fog (2009_12_13_044764)

From Jones Lake I moved to the salt marsh and walked the boardwalk to the shore.  In a nearby flat this great blue heron (Ardea herodias) was little more than a shadow in an increasingly gray world.

A foggy shoreline with felled trees (2009_12_13_044542)

The Dagger Point lookout faces into San Antonio Bay where slow erosion of the shore undercuts sand hills and drops oak and redbay trees into the water below.  The fog had become so thick that only what was within arm’s length retained color while everything beyond faded into a world with no ground, no air and no sky—all was a kaleidoscope of gray.  When it moved its head, my eyes were drawn to the great blue heron perched atop the highest limb on the left; otherwise, it was one shadow amongst many, a distant and dark extension of the fallen tree upon which it stood.