5 May 2015. Hendrie Valley, Burlington, ON. One of my favourite stream-side walks is a reliably good spot to find breeding pairs of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Green Herons. In fact, with a full-bodied, almost a river, stream on one side and a large marshy pond on the other it’s good for many birds at almost all times of the year. It is also along the route of one of my census walks.
At this time of year the menu-specials change daily. For several weeks it’s been a sure place to see a succession of waterfowl starting early in April with: Hooded Mergansers, Bufflehead and Wood Ducks, then later progressing through the brief appearances of Blue-winged Teal and Gadwall. By the time it’s all over, I am sure the area will be home to families of: Red-winged Blackbirds, Trumpeter Swans, Canada Geese, Wood Ducks, Mallards, Belted Kingfishers, Tree Swallows, Yellow Warblers, Green Herons, Warbling Vireos and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, to name but a few.
I have been anticipating the return of the Green Herons for a while and today, as I walked the trail, a trio of them flew over, banking low and looking for home. They are quite distinctive in every way: visually they’re elaborately unmistakable, and in flight they’re buoyant, even bouncy. Like most herons they’re vocal croakers when alarmed or in flight, in the case of the Green Herons theirs’ is a sharp coughing bark with an almost metallic ring.
The fly-past group didn’t go very much farther and later as I was on the return leg of the census I spotted two of them in a Manitoba Maple. Two’s company and three’s a crowd, as we know and here were two engaged in either some pair-bonding or territorial squabbling, I’m not sure which. Think back to your own youth, those modes of posturing can be hard to tell apart. The gallery below is of the few photos I was able to get through the trees.
Heard, but not seen, along the walk was a Northern Waterthrush. It’s a reminder to get exploring some of my other favourite spots. But for now in this, the early days of the cascade of new spring arrivals, the Green Herons made an already fulfilling morning extra colourful; Birds of the Day.