Posts Tagged With: great blue heron

King of the Pond vs the Demon Duck

I don’t visit Vischer Ferry much during the summer. But as the days get shorter the clouds of mosquitoes thin out, and once again I can check the paths for migrating birds.

It’s not just that fall plumage warblers are harder to tell apart, but the thick foliage only allows frustrating brief glimpses of birds in quick motion. Nevertheless I was able to find a half-dozen warbler species: Black-and-white, Canada, Magnolia, American Redstart, Blue-winged, and Common (should be Ubiquitous) Yellowthroat. And for all the pictures I took, I don’t think I got one feather in focus…

Some people say Roger Tory Peterson’s one error was labeling that plate ‘Confusing Fall Warblers.’ It sets up an expectation of difficulty that is, with a few exceptions, exaggerated. It might have been more accurate to say ‘Fall Warblers: Easier than silent sparrows!’ Or ‘You want confusing? Check out shorebirds!’

Waterfowl are a lot more cooperative. This Great Blue Heron stood like a sculpture framed in green.


At a nearby reservoir, male Wood Ducks were transitioning into nuptial plumage. This fellow’s blue-green iridescent wings caught my attention, but it’s his eye that makes the picture.


I’d never noticed that furious crimson eye so clearly before. Probably because full breeding plumage is so stunning!


This was taken a bit later in the season last year, in October. For some reason he had formed an attachment to a female Mallard and escorted her all around their little pond.

Categories: bird behavior, Bird photos, ducks, herons, vischer ferry | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

The forgotten park, 9/28/13

Ann Lee Pond is Colonie’s forgotten park, the older and neglected sister to The Crossings. It lacks the profitable pavilions and picnic grounds, the paved paths and playgrounds. It’s just a tangle of barely-mowed trails surrounding a pond.



This building has been closed as long as I’ve been going there. Boat house? Snack bar? No one seems to remember.

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The crazy bridge that’s gotten more crooked after every winter is finally closed.

It’s still a nice place for a quiet walk (except for the constant drone of planes from Albany Airport). The pond hosts families of Wood Ducks and Pied-billed Grebes. Herons stalk the shore while in summer Cedar Waxwings hawk for flies. I’ve seen good counts of spring migrants before the foliage gets too thick. I think all the town does there is mow, though, and they have allowed some paths to grow over completely.

But watch your step!


If those fallen trees look familiar, it’s because they’re the ones I fell and broke my shoulder on. And almost two years later they still haven’t been removed from the path.


Categories: Field trip, scenery | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

That dorky birder look, now with added eyepatch!

Birders are not exactly fashion plates at the best of times: zip-leg pants, faded tshirts advertising festivals past, floppy hats and those vests with big pockets. Leave it to me to find a way to make birding look even dorkier!

Look fast, these are the only selfies I’m ever going to post:

Now, before you start laughing, (OK, before you fall off your chair, at least) there is a logic behind this. I’ve noticed that when using a scope for long periods, like trying to ID shorebirds, keeping one eye squinched shut got tiring after a while, and that  eye took time to focus right again. So by having it covered, I can keep the eye open. It’s much more relaxing that way.

There are drawbacks, of course — on a day like today, the covered eye is melting in the heat, and it can be hard to focus right away in the bright afternoon light. I have to remove my glasses to put the patch on so when I want to switch to binocs there’s some fumbling around. And of course there’s the snicker factor.

But we’re birders! We wear our khaki with pride! Why not add that ever-so-stylish buccaneer touch to our outdoor wardrobe?

I refound the Little Blue Heron today, but it wasn’t being cooperative for photography. It wandered in and out of cattails and loosestrife, preening and fishing. When it sighted a fish, its whole body became nearly horizontal, and the head and neck swayed like a charmed serpent while the eyes and beak remained locked on target. A few moments of this dance, then pow! and swallow.

Here’s one of the many Great Blue Herons at Vischer Ferry today.


I think this feather is from a Great Egret. What you can’t see in the photo is the delicate motion of the afterfeather, the soft tendrils that tremble at a breath. No wonder they were de rigueur for decades in a lady’s trousseau.


ETA 9/19: I’m not dorky, I’m channeling David Bowie!

Not a birder, AFAIK.

Not a birder, AFAIK.

Categories: bird behavior, Bird photos, Field trip, Tools of the trade | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Misty morning heron

Great Blue Heron at Falls View Park, Cohoes.




Categories: Bird photos | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Great blue heron

This heron very kindly allowed me to observe her for some minutes as she foraged in a flooded meadow. Dragonflies buzzed about her head and she made a few stabs at catching them. She speared something small– a frog, probably– swallowed it down, and flew off to a nearby pond.

She wouldn't give me her profile.

Randall reports having seen her often during his dawn bike-rides.

Categories: Usual suspects | Tags: | Leave a comment

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