Saturday, May 19, 2012

American Bittern in the road

I'm up at NettieBay Lodge in northern Michigan's Presque Isle County, leading field trips focusing on birds, plants, and overall north woods ecology. We're having a ball seeing tons of cool stuff, including about 130 species of birds - today! As I type on the back deck this evening, three northern flying squirrels are my companions, bombarding the feeders a few feet away. The resident Common Loon is occasionally letting loose with its haunting yodels; a true song of the wild. Eastern Whip-poor-wills are whip-whipping away nearby at top volume.

We never know what cool stuff we'll bumble into. This afternoon, our vehicles rounded a corner, and there was an American Bittern smack in the middle of the road! It was sashaying its way from one wetland to another, and when it saw us it went into the neck in the air mimic a swaying reed act. That ruse isn't very effective on a highway, and we jumped out for a better look, some photos, and to ensure the bird didn't get pancaked by a passing vehicle.

American Bitterns are quite common up here; it seems that every wetland of any size has these odd herons in residence. Their strange oonk-ah-choonk calls suggest a pump running under water, and it's a frequently heard sound.

Finally, after wonderful looks of this normally secretive heron were had by all, I moved in to flush him from the road. Keeping my camera at the ready, I managed to snap off this shot as the bittern flopped back over into the bulrushes where he belongs.

Today's adventures also brought Kirtland's Warblers, a porcupine in his den tree, an incredibly cooperative Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and rafts of interesting plants. More on this expedition will follow.


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1 comment:

zippiknits said...

You lucky duck! What else can be said? ... sigh...

We saw a couple of California bluegray gnat catchers, and 3 California Towhees down by the lake today. That's SoCal for ya.