We have been having a blast birdwatching down here this year. it is something that I have been meaning to get into more since my MIL gave us Peterson's Guide to Eastern Birds and my Mom gave us a great set of binoculars (how many years ago was that?). But I never seemed to be able to find them when we needed them.
Luckily down here it is incredibly easy. Our beach house backs onto a canal so we have a wonderful backdrop for seeing all kinds of birds, doing all kinds of things. My favorite time is just after dinner - it seems to be feeding time for the birds as well. It is fascinating to watch as they pick their target and swoop down to grab the fish or even a crab now and then. I even got to see one industrious seagull grab a crab and fly over to a driveway and let the poor crab fall to its death before feasting.
We have a plethora of seagulls of different types which we have yet to identify. And plenty of ducks and geese. But we also have many other more unusual birds as well.
The other day a very large, interesting bird perched himself on one of the pylons on our dock. He was very different from any of the other birds that we had seen. We grabbed the binoculars and bird book, hoping that he would not fly away. We knew that he was not a seagull and I thought that he might be a tern. The boys poured over the book and found a couple that were kinda close, but not quite right.
We continued to turn the pages and low and behold there he was a Black-crowned Night-heron (Nycticorax nycticorax). I had thought that all herons had long graceful necks, and some do, but not this one! We also learned that herons and egrets are in the same family (need to do some more reading on that one to figure out exactly what is the difference!). Our bird seemed to sense that we were curious about him - he sat on the pylon patiently while we spent quite a little while trying to figure out what he was. Then, almost as if he knew that we had figured it out, he flew off.
Now the boys want to figure out what kind of egrets we see flying around - and whether any of them have "golden slippers" like some of the ones in the book.