As many readers may have realized by this point, I am not one of those bird watchers out only to spot a rare bird. No ticking boxes for me. I appreciate and enjoy all the birds I observe. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get excited when I happen upon something unusual or unlikely.
One weekend morning in mid-October, on a walk in the Celery Farms (Allendale NJ), I had a lucky sighting. Not far from the parking area the path turns around a small, narrow extension of the lake. This is usually where the turtles hang out on overturned logs. And that is where we saw it, standing on a log and peering into the algae covered water. I knew it was a small heron of some kind, but it wasn’t until I had time to compare my photos to my books that I realized it was a Black-Crowned Night-Heron.
What makes this so excited is that, as its name suggests, Black-Crowned Night-Heron aren’t usually spotted at 10am. They are 3rd shift birds, sleeping during the day and feeding at night. The best time to see them is usually dawn or dusk. Yet there he was, hunting. The coloring was unmistakable and the white plumes on the head are clearly visible in my photos, despite using my phone camera. The Heron seems tiny at 24-25 inches when compared with the Great Blue Heron at 45-47 inches.