Where the herons go to hide

Submitted by OcracokeWaves on Wed, 01/11/2012 - 03:33.

There is an updated version of this post at this link.

One of the amazing things about the Crystal Coast of North Carolina is that we have enough space and water to have some really big feathered friends living nearby.

Our home which borders Raymond's Gut is just off the White Oak River.  It is a very sheltered spot, and I often measure the nastiness of storms by the number of egrets or herons seeking shelter.  We had a great egret stake out some ground not far from our kitchen window during Hurricane Irene.

When it is really cold, the competition for the fishing grounds behind our home can become fierce with blue herons and great egrets vying for positions in the nooks and crannies of the marshes.

Most mornings I will go for a walk along the boardwalk which surrounds our neighborhood's clubhouse.  It is a great vantage point for watching our big birds.  Tuesday morning, January 10, a great blue surprised me by flying from one of the pine trees along the dock.

I like to think that I know most of their hiding spots, but every time I let that thought creep into my mind, I get surprised.  A great blue heron doing a take off ten feet from your head will likely startle you, and certainly get your attention.

However, our big birds are fairly predictable.  They have places where they like to go when they are spooked.  Often they don't go very far, and if I am careful and keep a tree between me and the bird, I can sneak up on them.

If I am really lucky, sometimes I can sit down on a bench and melt into the wood enough that they ignore me.  Then I can watch them until I start taking pictures.  Even the sound of a camera shutter seems to cause an alert.  Taking too many pictures sends my feathered friends deeper into the marshes.

Here is a picture of Raymond's Gut winding its way into Bluewater Cove and the White Oak River.  The area around our subdivision is perfect water for egrets and herons.

The picture at the top of the post is one of the favorite hiding areas for the herons and egrets.  Here is a picture of a great egret hiding in the grass near the marsh pond. 

He had flown to the grass when I spooked him while I was walking on the boardwalk.   I had to wait a few minutes before the egret decided to show himself, but the picture was worth the wait.

This is a zoomed out picture of our marsh pond which is a favorite safe refuge for the birds.  Here is a picture of another more inaccessible pond that is a backup heron hiding spot.

Finally here a great blue heron hiding at the end of Raymond's Gut just where a small creek enters the gut.   They can get very secretive and walk up the creek where it is impossible to see them without taking a kayak into their home space.

I try not to be too intrusive so kayaking into their hiding spots is not usually an option, but I do love to catch my feathered friends in their secret retreats. 

The picture of the great blue was taken with a very long telephoto lens on a tripod so hopefully he and I are still friends.