Egrets, Herons, & Hawks – Oh my! The Marsh at Sunrise
Sunday, June 17
Two white egrets, 4-6 green herons, and 2 great blue herons were spectacular sights to reward me for dashing out of bed at 5:15am on a Sunday to catch the early morning life at the “Home Depot marsh”.
On my way, I saw two white shapes in marsh area 2 but I was on the other side of the highway getting there. I was hoping they weren’t just trash! The nice thing about observing the same landscape often is that you notice when there’s something obviously new.
Two more lights and a U-turn and I get to marsh area 1, the section I’ve frequented the most. I didn’t see much activity but this area was noisy with the sound of frogs.
I didn’t linger, eager to get to the 2nd section where I had glimpsed the white shapes. To view that area, I park on the shoulder of a highway on/off ramp & walk across the median. As I was crossing, the two white shapes rose up & flew into the air. Egrets! I was fascinated and didn’t grab my camera. Which actually was a very safe move – it would be really dumb to snap pictures standing in the middle of a highway on/off ramp.
The egrets flew atop some dead trees. My camera is broken, I dropped it last week-end. The viewfinder is broken so I can’t see what is in focus, just aiming & hoping at this point. So not only do I wish for a DSLR, now I also need a new point-&-shoot.
I spotted several green herons. I couldn’t keep track accurately of how many there were – at least 4, maybe 6.
In addition, two great blue herons were in the marsh. Their flight is so graceful and beautiful; I watched them fly away. I later saw one in marsh area 1.
A final stop at marsh area 3: lots of frog sound and a squawk as a great blue heron slowly flew by.
I had been wanting to get the marsh early on a weekend day, but had not been able to convince myself to jump out of bed at sunrise. It was well worth the effort! I’ve never seen egrets this close. And, only just a few weeks ago I saw my first green heron, now several. And great blue herons that used to be a rare sight for me are seen almost daily.
Saturday, June 23
By the time I had an opportunity to load this post, another week-end is here! I headed to the marsh as soon as I woke today but I was an hour later than last weekend.
In marsh area 1, I spotted the swan again. No pic as it was so far away that it’s outside the range of my camera, but I could see it through my binoculars. Not much other visible activity, a few red-winged blackbirds, no frogs, but the dragonflies were beginning to come out.
Over at marsh area 2, I sighted a great blue heron standing watch, a beaver (its head popping up out of the water to the right of the heron). Also saw a green heron (not in pic).
Here you can see the water level is higher due to the storms yesterday evening:
A last stop, marsh area 3: a “first” for me! – three red-tailed hawks (as far as I could tell). Each had a noticeable white breast. My field guide says they like to eat mice, birds, snakes, insects, and mammals. Their habitat is open fields and roadsides, searching for prey. They often perch on freeway light posts, fences, and trees. Sounds like a perfect match for the marsh.
I was looking into the distance, and almost didn’t even notice this one perched atop a dead tree. Without any movement, it was hard to detect as its coloring matched the tree so well:
A last note on wildlife in this section: I also noticed 3 deer foraging along the edge. That surprised me. They must get in on the far side where it isn’t as marshy.
I hope you enjoy the pictures!