Friday, June 4, 2010

Last But Not Least ... Bittern

For Midwest birdwatchers, the month of May is eagerly anticipated. The abundance of migrating birds heading north delights our eyes and ears. This May, I was able to add several birds to my life list including Chestnut-sided Warbler, Canada Warbler and Blue-headed Vireo.

A couple of weeks ago, while at my favorite nature sanctuary, birders were atwitter about two birds in particular. As I entered along the dirt path, I noticed a large group of birdwatchers and wildlife photographers, all eyes and camera lenses focused on one leafy green bush. An excited photographer told me that a Connecticut Warbler was spotted flitting among the branches. Ecstatic with the possibility of seeing my first Connecticut Warbler I stood along with the group for a while. To no avail, all was quiet, the crowd thinned. While hoping, wishing and waiting for the Connecticut Warbler to appear, many were talking about the rarely observed, secretive Least Bittern seen at a pond several miles away. Knowing the pond was my last stop, I strolled the sanctuary paths for a couple of hours enjoying many beautiful bird sightings. Unfortunately, I never did see the much talked about Connecticut Warbler.

I headed off to the pond in search of the elusive Least Bittern. I had heard earlier that there was quite a large crowd hoping for a glimpse of this shy bird. When I arrived, there was not a birder or photographer in sight. My hopes dashed a bit but fingers crossed, I headed to the reedy area of the pond. Within two minutes, I caught a glimpse of a low flying bird a bit smaller than a Green Heron. Could it be? The colorful bird landed in the dense reeds. I aimed my camera, focused and waited ... and waited ... ugh, such a heavy lens! Oh my! A quick peek. Yes, I'm guessing a Least Bittern, as it looked very bittern-like. The bird was hunting and especially focused. Splash. Oh my! *Click* Sigh, reeds in the way. My goodness! *Click* Nice catch! *Click* More reeds. Gills, scales, fins, flapping tail. *Click* Before I could blink an eye, down the hatch it went. *Click* Gulp. *Click* Then, poof, the timid Least Bittern disappeared deeper into the reeds, out of sight. I finally exhaled and smiled. I felt so very elated to see such a lovely bird and could not wait to get home and do some research on it. My last but not Least ... Bittern sighting of the day.

Below are photographs of several beautiful birds seen in May, and of course, the Least Bittern (poor lighting and blurry, but the best I could do)

I believe this beauty is a Least Flycatcher (Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong)

This sightly Canada Warbler looks as if he is wearing a fancy black necklace

This lovely bird is just one of many loquacious Warbling Vireos seen

This Brown Thrasher delighted me with its repertoire of songs

A handsome Chestnut-sided Warbler

A foraging Blackpoll Warbler shows off his best side

An adorable Wood Duckling rests upon a fallen log

This elusive Least Bittern is quite the skilled fisherman

Down the hatch!


Anonymous said...

wow - your pictures are just awsome! I love all of them, but the bittern is just georgous!

cindyzlogic said...

Great, great captures!! I just love the cute little duckling :-)

Anonymous said...

Always a beautiful nature journey through the photos on your blog!! Great Post Julie!

Debbie Miller @HooootOwl said...

Excellent post starting with the title that then leads us to the excitement you experienced at the end of your day. Enjoyable read. Your Warbling vireo is so cute. Love the soft feathers and tail.... and great gulp at the end. Love it.

Kerri said...

Absolutely fabulous Post! How neat to catch him with his "catch". And the others birdies are just gorgeous!! You are so talented!!!

Patricia/Trisketta said...

Oh Julie, you had my heart thumping with all the 'clicks" (can relate!!) as you brought us into the moment! Beautiful images and story. Thank you :)

Julie G. said...

Thank you all for your kind comments. They mean so very much to me. I am especially appreciative.

deb said...

Your pictures are incredible!!! So glad I'm now following your blog!!

Idaho Birder said...

Those are incredible Least Bittern shots! Nice job.

Manuel Luis said...

Conheço estas aventuras, os juncos, o desfocar, a chuva, o sol e tudo mais! O que importa mesmo é a boa vontade e o empenho, a dedicação a natureza que é o melhor que temos.
Hoje tenho tempo para estar aqui.