Monday, August 18, 2008

My Corner of the Swamp

Great Blue Heron Glare

The swamp has an increasing number of birds now that fall migration is well under way. Various shorebirds are passing through and soon we will see ducks who have been breeding in the north stopping by for a rest on their way south for the winter. It is not unusual to see ten Great Blue Herons at one time. Last week a local birder reported seeing six juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons in the middle of the afternoon.

I detour past this area frequently and in just a few minutes always see something interesting or amusing. The Great Blue Herons are found in predictable areas and one familiar bird is found in the back corner every time I visit. It stands on a stump and displays postures that vary from intimidating to just plain silly.

Does this pose scare you?

The Belted Kingfishers seem to have experienced a local population explosion. I watched the bird below try and grab a fish from the mouth of another female who was manipulating her catch to swallow it head first. The two birds sat on stumps opposite each other and would dive simultaneously in nearly the same spot, perhaps aiming for the same minnow. That would trigger a rapid pursuit across the surface of the water as they battled for the best fishing ground.

The Green Herons are less dramatic and can be hard to spot as they watch the water from the shore or a log. This one caught a White-tailed dragonfly and gulped it down but I was not fast enough to capture it with the camera.

Most of these birds will have a long journey ahead in the next few weeks. A few Kingfishers do stay near open water on the river throughout the winter. They must compete to survive and the skills they are practicing in late summer may mean the difference between life and death before they breed again.


  1. Wonderful photos Ruth. I hope they all arrive safely at their destinations. :c)

  2. Ruth, I do believe that the best photo of a Belted Kingfisher I've seen in a long time. Congratulations! Our herons, egrets, and kingfishers over-winter here but there are times when I rarely see them. You're lucky to see all of them at once!

  3. The Great Blue Heron poses are magnificent! How so very fortunate you are to have such a location near by. I have seen few Blue Heron this summer but last year I could easily see two or three a day fishing in our river. There was a rookery about 10 km distant and for some reason the area where it was has seemed to remain vacant this year. A Belted Kingfisher is always hard to photograph I think so yours is a special capture. All lovely photos.

  4. I've never seen the great blue herons in our area with such silly poses!
    Love the kingfisher photo. We rarely see them and its always a treat.
    I saw an osprey last spring for the first time ever. I could have spent the entire weekend watching him dive for fish. Incredible!

  5. Great photos, especially the kingfisher.

  6. Great pictures - our robins left a couple weeks ago.

  7. Ruth,

    What a wonderful post. I enjoyed seeing all of the birds. You seem to be able to ferret out the best places in the world to do a bit of birding.

    We have belted kingfishers along the canal this year and there are blue herons all along the river. One stops very early in the morning at the canal to do a bit of fishing.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful nature photos. I always enjoy stopping by here. Your little corner of the web is always so peaceful and serene.

    Blessings for a great week.

  8. Happened by and really enjoyed your post. I love nature and your photos are super!

  9. Jayne- And I hope their winter destinations are hospitable...

    Mary- Thanks...I am looking forward to seeing what you take with your new camera!

    Ann- I saw my first rookery this spring. What a sight! We have many GBHs here along the Grand River.

    Julie- I am partial to water birds and love to watch them fish too.

    NCMW- Thanks. The Kingfishers move faster than my camera shutter most of the time.

    Jean- Wow...Our robins stick around until late fall, and a very few are seen near open water in the winter.

    Mary- I am noticing Kingfishers a lot more this year. They are comical to watch.

    Mare- thanks for stopping by!

  10. Your blog makes me acutely aware of the passing of the seasons. In a wonderful way. Thanks.
    p.s. On a recent road trip to southern Colorado, saw 5 vultures (buzzards? how do you tell the difference?) in a dead tree. Why would they choose a dead tree, one as ugly as they were? The entire effect striking, however, against a leaden sky.
    Glad for binoculars in hand, but wished I'd had a camera and your skill at using it.

  11. I only see Turkey vultures around here and they are very ugly/beautiful. And they do hang out on dead trees especially around the hospital grounds which sometimes gives me a morbid feeling. But when they soar they are graceful and beautiful.


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