Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Nankeen Night Heron

At some point I changed from a girl with binoculars who was interested in birds to one of those bird watchers who collects "ticks" in her field guide to represent each species seen. Now, I'm not very competitive about it. I don't go tearing across the city to see a Torresian Crow just because I've heard about it in an email (OK, I wak kind of tempted). And I did pursue a pair of Powerful Owls in Bankstown (to no avail). But in general I just keep my eyes open and make a note of what I see, where and when.

However, since I began photographically documenting the avifauna of the Wolli Valley it has become an even more competitive pursuit. I was lucky to be the first to see Tawny Frogmouths in the Valley and one of the earliest to confirm Variegated Wrens as residents rather than random visitors. What would be the next "tick"?

Some time ago I heard reports of a Nankeen Night Heron sighted along Wolli Creek. I wasn't highly confident of seeing it myself as this was seen from a boat by a Park Ranger on an inaccessible part of the waterway... but I remained hopeful.

Later I heard of a particular tree the heron had been seen in and monitored this for some time. This Christmas I received an email reporting the Night Heron was in that same tree. Most frustratingly, I was out of town at the time!

However, back in Sydney I found the bird, as promised, perched in the lower branches of an oak tree. The creek prevented me from getting very close and as I manouvred through the bush for a clearer shot, the Heron became camera shy and tried to sneak away.

When I moved even further along the walking track to the next clearing, the Heron flew to a more secluded area of the Oak.

A few days later I returned for another look. This time the Oak tree was empty but I found the Heron further down the creek, this time almost too far for photographic confirmation. Almost.

Click on image to see large version.