Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New Bird on the Block.

We were enjoying our new deck last evening, the sun was doing its wonderful evening thing as it sank slowly into the trees on the other side of The Lake. The sky was turning its usual mix of golds and yellows, ho hum, prior to turning to red and then purple and every other imaginable as well as unimaginable color. When all of a sudden a new bird landed on the pier. We watched, fascinated, there were already a plethora of birds on, in and around The Lake, but this was definitely a new one. He looked a bit like a Heron, but not the Great Blue Heron, with it's long legs, neck and bill. Instead this guy was smaller, chunkier, with shorter legs and a fatter neck, but still very heronesque looking. a quick trip to our Bird Bible - Birds of North America - revealed it to be a Black Crowned Night Heron. Scientific name, Nycticorax nycticorax, and confirmed our observation that he had a heavy body, short thick neck and short legs. (Well short for a Heron I guess, they still looked pretty long to me, not quite Betty Grable legs maybe, but quite presentable) his size was listed as 20" long with a 44" wingspan, quite a bit smaller than the 38" tall and 70" wingspan of the Great Blue, but again a very respectable size for a bird. By the time we got back from the book and trained our binoculars back on our new visitor, he had been joined by another Black Crowned Night Heron. Yes there were now two on our pier, in our 10 months here we had not to our knowledge seen even one before. These both appeared to be female, but who knows there might be a male out there somewhere. We can only hope.
I have always found size, in birds, to be interesting. Here at The Lake we have birds that range in size from the tiny Wren to the Great Blue Heron, the Swan and the Bald Eagle, quite a range of sizes, but out there in the rest of the World, bird sizes range even more, from the Bee Hummingbird at about 2" long and less than 1/10 of an ounce to the Wandering Albatross at 25 pounds or more and an 11 foot wingspan. If we were to go back thousands or millions of years we would have found even bigger birds, but maybe not smaller.
Today promises to be another beautiful day on The Lake, already the sun has lit up the trees on the other side with its unearthly morning rays and Harry the Heron has found his place on our pier. His stance is one of eerie beauty, he (she? Because with the long neck, long legs and beautifully slim body Harry is certainly more evocative of a female.) reminds me of someone, and I am trying to remember who. I'm running some long legged, long necked film stars through my mind but can come up with none more beautiful than my very own Julia. So should I rename Harry, Julia? Would she be flattered? I hope so and I think so. Julia it is. Well Julia just took off and flew to one of her favorite hunting grounds for breakfast about 200 feet to the left of the pier. Some unfortunate minnow or sunfish is about to become breakfast for Julia.
Meanwhile back at Sunset Cottage it is time for me to take my Julia her morning cup of tea, after which she will serve me up a nice breakfast, not a Minnow or Sunfish I hope.
Have a wonderful day,

Love David XXX

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