July 22, 2021 – After reading a post a week ago by photographer Linda Murdock on a juvenile Green Herons, I had to go see if I could find one. It was right where she had seen it a few days earlier, in the marshy verge beside the boardwalk at Cullinan Park.
He held this upright walking posture most of the time I was watching him, deviating only when he thought he’d spotted some prey. His little underpants are still covered with baby down, and his neck, chest and belly are heavily streaked for excellent youngster camouflage.
Like many warm-blooded babies, his head is overly large for his body; he will grow into it as he attains small adult size this year. The plant growth has been chopped and mowed to clear out the water hyacinth, an invasive plant, and other water weeds that will choke the shoreline if left unchecked. It makes a nasty-looking stew for photo backgrounds, but apparently is a great grocery store for the birds.
Here he is pulling strenuously against a tough water weed root. He had stretched his neck out as far as he could, until his bill reached the place where the little root is connected to the bulk of the dead plant. He snatched the jellied morsel, then pulled it towards him. (I’m not showing you that moment, since his head and neck were behind BOTH of those intervening green reeds.) But as much as he pulled, he couldn’t get it to release from the threadlike root, so he finally let it go. You can see that his neck is doubled back on itself for leverage. I’m guessing whatever it was didn’t taste very good, since he didn’t go back and try again to pick it free.
Dragonflies were everywhere – my photos are full of fuzzy fliers dodging across the view. This blue one tempted him from just out of range, but flitted away before he could catch it.
An adult Green Heron much further away, off the opposite end of the boardwalk on a floating island of water hyacinth eyed the same type of dragonfly, and, though he didn’t get this one, he did not go hungry. This is a significant crop, since he was so far away, but it was helpful to see both the juvenile and adult birds on the same day, in the same lake.
The adult birds are darker across the back and shoulders; the green is still visible in strong sunlight, but the birds appear slate gray under overcast skies. Their neck and upper sides are deep mahogany showing only a narrow bit of striping down the center of their throat and chest. And in these two shots above, you can also just barely see the dark gray back plumes of the adult. For additional images of adults, you can look at a post I did last summer featuring adult Green Herons, here.
During the late afternoon, the bright sun was easing lower in the sky. I was able to squat on the boardwalk and shoot through the railing with my shadow pointing directly at him in order to get this image showing the vivid greens in his back, wings and crown. I love the quilted effect of the black and green on his back, and the brown, tan and green on his wing feathers.
We are currently 6 inches over our average cumulative rainfall for this time of year. The steamy heat continues, and the air fairly dances with mosquitoes, gnats and dragonflies. Fields and trees are still lush, the greens of summer are still radiant. The shriveling heat of August hasn’t reached us quite yet!