A productive day in Huntley Meadows

July 3, 2010

Thursday’s trip to Huntley Meadows was interesting from a number of perspectives.

Most notably I was able to watch a Green Heron (Butorides virescens) that was pointed out to me by a fellow park visitor.

Before I go into that… here was a funny experience from early in the outing.

A mother and her son, who was five or so, were walking on the boardwalk near me. After a few minutes, we chatted and I moved ahead. A few minutes later, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the boy had moved up beside me while his mom was still down the path. As I turned, he pulled down a cattail toward his face.

“Corndog?” he said.

“Not quite,” I replied as he slowly started to open his mouth. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

He released the cattail and I turned around to scan for animals.

Noticing I hadn’t heard the kid return to his mother yet, I turned back around. Staring at me was a grinning child, and I saw a chunk was missing from the earlier cattail. Oh boy.

Then he ran back to his mother and in the distance I hear bits and pieces of the conversation, including “What did you do?” and “Oh, you did, did you? You know that’s not a corndog, right? Well… what did you think of it?”

It made for a good laugh.

My initial scans for wildlife had limited results, but near the main area, I was shown the location of the Green Heron. The tiny bird is much more uncommon than its relatives, the Great Blue Heron and the White Egret.

As I watched, the bird maneuvered an area where the water level was nearly nonexistent. Slowly, methodically, it crept past cattails and scanned for a meal.

I was able to watch it strike several times, but couldn’t tell if it had much success.

Although the birds can fly quite easily, this particular creature would only do a few short flights while I was watching. And flights might be giving it too much credit – run, skip and a hop might be a better description.

After trailing the heron for some time, I was distracted by a nearby commotion. I’d love to go into it now, but it really is worthy of its own post. Here’s the only hint you’ll get.

Tune in tomorrow for that.

Following my mystery encounter, I scanned the far side of the boardwalk and spotted several bullfrogs and a nearby Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas).

I love these birds, but I’ve only seen them a handful of times in the park. The last time I was able to photograph one was in May.

Another curious bird was this young guy.

I don’t even know what to call it. It doesn’t look like a wood duck or a mallard. A passerby said it could be a remaining Merganser baby, but I don’t think that fits either.

In the rodent category, both beavers and muskrats were out. One beaver was actively building near the boardwalk, diving and returning to push mud into a pile.

The muskrats were following their usual pattern by foraging for vegetation.

Overall, a pleasant outing in prime conditions. The current weather conditions are great from both the shooting and wildlife perspectives.

4 Responses to “A productive day in Huntley Meadows”

  1. […] the middle of my trip, while watching a Green Heron, commotion at the base of nearby cattails caught my attention. As I glanced, I saw a leaping […]

  2. Renee Says:

    Very nice outing!

  3. Evan Dyson Says:

    I thought so!

  4. […] I enjoy this species, but didn’t have as much time to shoot it as my last experience earlier this month. […]

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