Monday, October 22, 2012

American Bittern in SWAMP





 Last week I was out in the Duke University SWAMP helping lead a field trip for the Wetlands Ecology and Management class.  I had just explained to the students how we are keeping track of bird sightings in the SWAMP using ebird when not a minute later we stumbled upon a new bird to add to our site list...
American Bittern
 ...to my surprise an American Bittern was prowling around in the aquatic vegetation not 30 feet in front of the bird blind!
American Bittern
It's pretty rare to see one of these away from the coast. 

 And usually they do a better job staying hidden!
American Bittern
The bird seemed pretty unconcerned about curious birders and strolled out into the open to hunt crayfish.
American Bittern
 After gobbling a few small ones, it caught a huge bright red one that looked like a lobster
Blood red legs...
But it proved to be too much for this bird to handle and the bittern had to throw this one back...
a whopper!


 As of posting, this bird has been around for 8 days. It seems to be finding plenty of food and has already weathered some assaults from the resident Great Blue Heron. I wonder if it will stick around through the winter?

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