Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Coastal Trip 2: Great Egrets

     After a late picnic lunch in Boy Scout Woods, I took a walk around the trails. The area was disappointingly quiet and the only bird I saw was a Great-crested Flycatcher, although I did hear several White-eyed Vireos.
     Given the lack of migrants, we scrapped our plan to join the afternoon bird-walk and instead headed up to the Smith Oaks rookery.
     There was plenty of water in Claybottom Pond and the rookery was packed with birds.

One reason I love visiting the rookery is that it gives wonderful opportunities for photographing Great Egrets, one of my favorite birds. Just stand on one of the observation decks for a few minutes and you are sure to see numerous Great Egrets fly overhead, their white plumage positively glowing against the blue sky.

However, no matter how much you like watching Great Egrets flying, your eyes (and lens) will soon be drawn to the birds on the rookery islands. There are few sights in nature more impressive than a Great Egret in full breeding plumage. It is hard to believe that any female could resist a display like the one below.

Of course, keeping those beautiful feathers in tiptop shape requires a lot of preening.

Most of the Great Egrets had already built their nests, and some birds appeared to have started sitting on eggs.

Others were still busy flying off to collect nesting material. 

This bird brought back only a very small twig.

The bird below, by contrast, had brought in a long stick and was proudly passing it over to its mate.

The image that will linger with me from Saturday's visit is of a Great Egret launching itself into the air. 

If I had to give this picture a title, I think I'd call it "Jumping for Joy".

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