Thursday, August 23, 2018
A BOUNTIFUL HABITAT
I got an e-bird alert from another Audubon member that a marshy area north of Elk Rapids had abundant birding potential. With my teaching semester over, I decided to check it out, even though it was about a forty minute drive.
Right away I could see the large marsh was teeming with birding opportunities. Movement was evident among the grasses, and there was activity on the water too. I pulled over to get a closer look.
Not far from my car, I spotted a beautiful Green Heron. This swamp looked like the perfect area for the heron to be foraging frogs, fish, tadpoles, crayfish, water bugs, and mice.
As I panned to the right, I saw a Wood Duck standing on a log. I caught it as it turned to watch me, but it quickly lost interest in my presence and went back to looking for its next meal.
Across the marsh, I saw a blur of white, and my breath caught. I wasn’t close enough to get a really sharp shot but was still excited to see a beautiful Great Egret. It was a first for me, and I just watched it through my binoculars. It was pretty far north for this species, so I felt lucky to see it.
And just like that, the Great Egret took to the air, its deep, steady wing beats carrying the bird’s nearly six-foot body effortlessly across the marsh.
The marsh continued across the road, but it was mostly reeds and cattails vs. a lake of swamp water.
Almost immediately, I spotted a Great Blue Heron fishing among the reeds. The bird’s back faced me, but it still caught sight of me with that piercing yellow eye.
The large bird was clearly unhappy with my presence and quickly rose vertically, carried upward by wings which have a span of over six feet.
And as fast as the Great Blue came into my sight, it was gone. As an ethical photographer, I hate to disturb critters from their natural homes. Now that I know that both sides of the road are viable bird habitats, I'll be more cautious the next time I come.