Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Unlikely Find in an Urban Park: Part One

A small park is located in our city centre where a creek is dammed for flood control and also to create a small lake. A couple of islands are in the centre of the lake and three picturesque bridges, perfect for playing Pooh sticks, span the water. One island has no access for the public. When our girls were small we went there every week in the summer for a picnic. They loved the "ducks and geese", the usual Canada geese and Mallard ducks that populate all urban parks and golf courses.

I worked in the city core as a visiting therapist full time for five years and walked the park every day. It is favourite place for children, families, the elderly, for weddings, for people of all types. It is not what I would consider a great birding location though.

In the past few weeks, several juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons have been seen at our local swamp. I have looked in vain for them, standing in mosquito-infested weeds and looking at logs and bushes in the swamp. This would be a life bird for me.

Well, these herons have decided to stop over in the city. Imagine my surprise to see this juvenile standing statue still like a piece of wood at the edge of the water. It was almost invisible. This heron is larger than a Green Heron and smaller than a Great Blue Heron.

I then detected the slight movement of another bird in the brush and snapped some pictures in the general direction. I couldn't see any details until I downloaded the shots at home.

Note the two decorative feathers on the back of the head

There were two adult Night-crowned Black Herons, just as silent and still, in the trees above the juvenile. Is this an exceptional birding year at the park? I think not. The hundreds of common birds detract one's attention from the unusual and silent visitors in the naturalized island's brush. I was happy to see a new bird in an unexpected place and at much closer range than at the swamp. I will be paying closer attention to this area in the future.


  1. A great find ... I have never seen the like.

  2. Those were a terrific find! Such handsome birds.

  3. Ruth,

    What wonderful photos you've posted of the herons. I have never seen this species and if I have it went unnoticed.

    Your Monarchs are doing well. What a wonderful show they will put on when they emerge. Thanks so much for sharing.


  4. Isn't it so exciting to find something unexpected? Lovely birds.

  5. Thank you for commenting. I was very happy to find these birds. I do think the adult looks a little like a penguin.

  6. Wow Ruth, That's so cool that you got to see the BC Night Herons--and even the pretty, long head feathers. It will be neat to see what other new birds you "discover" there.


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