An Unusual Bird at the Neighborhood Swamp
Tuesday 24 November 2015 — Category: Shooting
A couple of days ago I was walking by the swamp that borders the Oak Creek Greenbelt Trail which surrounds my neighborhood in Albany, Oregon.
Suddenly a startled bird took to flight. At first I thought it was a duck, because it was about that size. However, since it was moving and it was far away, I could not see it very well.
Once it landed on a fallen swamp tree, I could see that it was definitely not a duck. With my pocket camera I zoomed all the way to its maximum 720mm-equivalent focal length and snapped a somewhat-fuzzy shot.
As I was trying to move closer, the skittish bird took to its wings again and then settled on another log. I took another picture, shown to the right, which came out a bit clearer. Click on the image to see a larger version.
After consulting some bird guides, my guess is that it is some sort of bittern — although I’m not 100% convinced. If you have a better idea, be sure to leave a comment below.
Either way, it is such a blessing to live so close to nature while still within the city limits. A neighborhood swamp, with its resident and visiting wildlife, is a wonderful attraction!
UPDATE: Due to input from Judy Cox of Grants Pass (see her comments below), I am now almost certain that this bird is a green heron and not a bittern. Thanks Judy!
UPDATE #2: Almost exactly a month later I took my best photo yet of this green heron — see Christmas Morning at the Neighborhood Swamp for all the details!
On November 25, 2015, Judy wrote:
It looks like a green heron to me. I've seen them in western Oregon. BTW, my husband gave me a Lumix DMC-ZS50 today for my birthday — we picked it out partly because of the reviews on your blog, so thanks! I got nice shots of a Eurasian dove, spotted towhee, and white-crowned sparrow on my first try (on automatic). This camera is going to be fun!
On December 24, 2015, Debby wrote:
Heron, definitely. We saw a (or perhaps two) blue heron at the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge about 100 miles south of Albuquerque this past November 2015. However, it had blue-gray wing feathers. That area is better known for offering a winter feeding ground for sandhill cranes and a variety of geese, ducks, hunting birds, and occasionally mountain lions and coyotes.
A few years ago a green heron was reportedly seen in a more wild area west of Tingley Beach (a recreation area with ponds and paddle boats), and east of the Rio Grande. At the Beach and in the wild area, some river water has been redirected to form large ponds / small lakes.
There are 2-3 such ponds in the Bosque (forest) where fewer visitors roam, but many photographers go there looking for birds who prefer a bit more solitude (many geese and ducks like the “Beach” because tourists feed them and admire them). In one of the bigger hidden pond / lakes is an island, and one summer Sunday a green heron was pointed out to me. I got a few pictures, moved around the lake and found that the bird had moved into some reeds close to the path. I got a few pics then, too.
So I would say don't worry about fuzzy, you got a rare picture, and that makes it great.
Oh, and Judy’s experience is mine, too, as I also just got a ZS50, also partly because of your reviews. But the weather has been too poor to get out and try it other than on local finches and sunsets (does fine on those). It replaces a Canon Powershot SX10, with which I have taken many great pics, I just wanted something lighter and with more zoom.