Monday, November 25, 2013

Life Through The Lens - American Bittern

November, no birds.  This has been a synopsis of this month, at least for me.  Time after time, I come up empty.  And nothing has mounted my frustrations more than the American Bittern.  One has been hanging out at Prairie Ridge Ecostation in Raleigh, and is supposedly "reliable" to see.  I really wanted to see this bittern - it would be a good Wake County year bird for me (aside from the fact that bitterns are just really cool birds to see!).  I went there Saturday, and saw nothing.  Again today, I braved the unseasonably cold weather to see the bird.  An hour and a half, with no bittern.  This makes American Bittern the first bird I've ever "dipped" (or missed) twice consecutively.

So, alas, I am left gazing at old photos, longing for another American Bittern sighting. These chunky herons blend so well with their marshy surroundings they can be almost invisible. Their eyes are positioned facing downward, to aid in catching their favorite prey.  Bitterns have one of the most unique and bizarre calls in the bird world - listen to one here - described by the Nat Geo guide as "oonk-a-lunk". They are a charismatic and surprisingly tame bird, making them great photography subjects.  If only the Prairie Ridge bird would cooperate...

American Bittern from Pocosin Lakes NWR last December

Bittern at Yates Mill last spring - it walked right under the boardwalk I was standing on!


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