The word went out this morning that a Little Blue Heron was on the pond at Vischer Ferry. I couldn’t get there until evening, but despite such oppressive humidity my glasses kept fogging up, at 6:45 there was still enough light to see an immature LBH moving around. It didn’t look anything like the birds pictured in the top pictures in that link, being in pure white first-year plumage. So how to tell it from other white herons?
Great Egret is just that — a great big bird, almost the size of a Great Blue Heron. (There is a Great White Heron, a color morph of GBH, but they’re only found in the Florida Keys.)
Cattle Egret — shorter necked and all-over squatter in shape.
Snowy Egret– here it gets harder. Same size. Adults in breeding plumage have the extravagant aigrettes that almost caused their extinction, and black legs with spiffy yellow feet*. To tell young Snowys and Little Blues apart, you have to focus on beak and leg details. Snowys have yellow and black on both, while Little Blues’ are more green/grey.
So, this bird was pure white, smaller than the Great Egrets it foraged near, with distinctly greenish legs and grayish beak. Little Blue Heron, species #200 for the year. It was quite active, flying from perch to water and up again. A flyover Green Heron bothered it enough to make it chase the darker bird away. At last it flew over the trees and out of sight, and I abandoned the towpath to the mosquitoes and the dusk.
On my way in, I spotted this pretty little Milk Snake on the edge of the path. Only about 8″ long, it barely moved as I approached. I think it was full of its latest meal.
*Somewhere in my slides I have pictures of a particularly fearless Snowy Egret in Florida. It walked right up to us on the beach on Sanibel Island, so close that I could get shots of its black toenails.