Sometimes you just get lucky! I was lucky this morning, having a nice walk on Gooseberry with several interesting birds and other stuff I’ll write about in a separate post when I sort it out. But when I really got lucky was when I headed home, for as I passed the entrance to Horseneck Beach on RT88 I spotted a Green Heron on the telephone wire. One U-Turn later I was happily snapping pictures as he went through a series of poses, unperturbed even when I got out of my car and walked over to a spot nearly underneath him! Heck, I was taking video as two joggers went right under him – I thought that might spook him, but it didn’t.
My guess form the guide book is it’s a juvenile in first summer plumage, but hey, I’m no expert. Pete Dunne is, however, and in his wondeful “Essential Field Guide Companion” – my favorite bird book – he has this to say about the Green Heron. (Yea, I always thought it was the “Little” Green Heron because he is small – but it isn’t. It’s just Green Heron.)
Small. dark. somewhat improbably shaped heron that positions itself at gravity-defying angles and seems tethered to shore. Small (smaller than Black-crowned Night H; larger than Least Bittern) and overall chunky (the exceedingly long nexk is usually retracted), this football-shaped heron sports a disproportionately long, pointed bill on one end, and is supported by disproportionately short, thick, yellowish legs on the other.”
Think about that as you look at the following photos – the first is my grab shot through the car window, taken because I was afraid my return and stopping might scare him. The shots get better after that since I was able to get out and move closer. Oh and Dunne makes no mention of them perching on
telephone wires. I’ve seen several Green Herons – but to see one on a wire like this was a bit of a shocker. BTW – just yesterday, around noon, a large deer crossed in front of me at nearly this exact location, totally unperturbed by the car and the barking dogs I had with me. Luck – I say – nothing like it!
Oh wait a minute – where’s the green?!
‘Green’ is something of a misnomer. The back is blue with greenish highlights, the breast and neck are chestnut, and the head is dark-capped. At a distance and in poor light the bird looks all dark. Immatures are like adults but the colors are muted; the wings are spangled with white and the neck is covered with maroon streaks (not solid chestnut).
I would add that if you look at the firstpicture especially you do see significant green betweenthe eye and bill. Wonder if that had anything to do with the name?
So does this really belong in Gooseberry Journal? Sure – after all, I was less than a mile from Gooseberry and I would not have seen him except for my Gooseberry walk. That said, I really don’t ever expect to see one on Gooseberry unless I brave the brush and get down near the ponds. That’s their environment – still or slow-moving waters – not the ocean or bay coast. But hey, it’s my journal so I can make the rules 😉