Thursday, 25 May 2017

White Herons

The white heron (ardea modesta) has always been my favourite bird, even before I really started bird watching. I remember seeing them in Florida and being amazed at how it could unfurl its neck to show that incredible kink. I've seen them several times in New Zealand and have been lucky enough to spend time just watching them going about their business. Much larger than the very common white-faced heron, would you believe these birds only weigh between 700 and 1200 grammes?

Apparently there have been a couple of white herons over wintering at Foxton Beach in recent years so it was a thrill to see one arrive about a month ago. Every time I have a few minutes spare I scout around the township looking for it, trying to build a picture of its behaviour. Yesterday afternoon, after several days of very heavy rain, I found it next to a drainage pond. It was relaxed and appeared to be enjoying the last bit of sunshine. I know we tend to put human qualities on animals but it did look like it liked the sun. I watched it as it stretched and preened and checked out the activity on the pond. Wonderful.

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