Monday, June 2, 2014
Visit to the Pontchartrain Park heronry
I spend a half hour today walking the fringes of the Pontchartrain Park (Bartholomew Golf Course) heronry, watching the nesting show. So much energy in such a small spot!
White Ibis now dominate the colony- hundreds of adults I suppose, although it is hard to assess since they can be pretty hard to see sitting on nests.
Great Egrets, the first to nest, are almost done: in most nests, the young are almost indistinguishable from their parents except for the lack of the nuptial aigrettes (long plumes on the back used in courtship display). I did see one nest with smaller young, approximately Snowy Egret sized, which were vying for the food that their newly returned parent was prepared to regurgitate. Their aggression was amazing, literally fighting over access to mom's beak.
A handful of young Black-crowned Night-Herons, Tricolored Herons, and White Ibis were out of the nest- seems like the main waves of fledgings for those species are yet to come. Cattle Egrets were seen feeding young in nests. Snowy Egrets here and there, and two pairs of Little Blues.
The colony is quite noisy- quite a din when you are on the east shore, where you are only about 20 yards from the closest nests. But you can hear it a long ways off.
One Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was loafing- a one-year-old, mainly gray with just a trace of the adult head pattern.
Barn Swallows were continually zipping above the water surface snatching bugs, and a Mississippi Kite came over from the south just as I was leaving.