Friday, June 15, 2012
Another Glimpse of the Tallest Bird in the Bay
Standing up straight at about 4-feet tall with a 6-foot wingspan, the Great Blue Heron is the tallest native bird found in Lower New York Bay. Despite its height, though, it's not an easy bird to view up close in the wild.
The Great Blue Heron is unmistakable. It's a beautiful, striking wading bird with a lengthy, pointed bill, slender long legs, grayish-blue body feathers, and a bright white head with a dark crown that ends with a plume of black feathers on top. Often the bird is seen standing still and silently in or near the water foraging mostly for fish, frogs, or turtles.
When you spot a Great Blue, it's automatically a pleasing sight often within a peaceful environment, though don't confuse it with a crane, because it is not. A Great Blue Heron might look similar, but cranes are long-legged wading birds found frequently in the wetlands and open fields out west. We have herons around Lower New York Bay.
Yet, try to get up near to a Great Blue Heron for the perfect up-close picture, and it will fly away before you can even tale your first step. Great Blues can also be shy, subtle, and solitary birds. Not a simple subject to photo.
So I don't know what I did to be so lucky the other day. A Great Blue allowed me to get within walking distance to take a few quick pictures before it flew away.
The showers had stopped, and on a noon-time walk around Spermaceti Cove in Sandy Hook Bay, I spotted the big bird foraging for fish, most likely Bay Anchovies or Spearing, in the shallow ebbing waters of the estuary. Slowly I sauntered over, partly hidden by the high shrubs and marsh grasses. I focused my camera, and click, click, click. Several pictures were taken of this beautiful bird.
Then before I could take another, the Great Blue flew away to another part of the cove to continue to seek out a tasty lunch, solitary and silent. Though brief, my time spent with this particular Great Blue was a great pleasure for the lasting photos I have of this bird in the wild, near NYC.