Readers’ wildlife photos

July 24, 2021 • 8:00 am

We are down to the wire on photos, folks. If you have some good ones, send them to me, lest this feature go the way of the vaquita.

Today’s set comes from Susan Harrison, Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California at Davis. Susan’s caption is indented, and you can enlarge her photos by clicking on them.

These photos are from a single day (April 30, 2020), in fact a single period of around 2 hours, spent at the South Padre Island Convention Centre (yes, they use the British spelling) on Laguna Madre of South Padre island, near the southern end of the Texas gulf coast.   It’s a famous location for watching the spring migration, and we were mainly there to see warblers and other songbirds, which were there in abundance.  But more surprisingly, the boardwalk at the convention centre yielded close-up sightings of just about every long-legged and long-billed marsh bird you could imagine.   Here are the ones I was able to photograph, including 4 rails (including the sora and gallinule), 6 herons (including the bitterns), and a few others.  Boy, I would hate to be a frog or small fish in the Laguna Madre!

American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) :

Clapper Rail (Rallus crepitans):

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias):

Green Heron (Butorides virescens):

Green herons:

Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis):

Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea):

Northern Waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis):

American Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinicus):

South Padre Convention Centre Boardwalk:

South Padre Convention Centre and Franklin’s Gulls (Leucophaeus pipixcan):

Sora (Porzana carolina):

Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor):

American White Ibises (Eudocimus albus):

11 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Yes, that’s what I thought too. Might the photo labeled Green Herons actually be Little Blue Herons?

  2. Fantastic photos, Dr. Harrison! Quite the variety of long-legged, long-billed marsh birds, but do you know the identity of the long-legged short-beaked primates?

    1. Beaked monkeys? Their resemblance to parrots is uncanny, though I don’t think they have noticeably long-legs.

  3. These were all delightful. In the photo of the green herons, does the white one have leucism, or is that it’s natural coloration?

    1. As noted by others, these are little blue herons, not green herons. The white one is an immature. It seems strange for a species to have such a conspicuous plumage when immature, and a much darker less conspicuous one when adult. I don’t know whether anyone has come up with a good explanation as to why this phenomenon might give the species an advantage. Perhaps immature little blues hide in egret colonies? Egrets also have conspicuous white plumages of course, but retain them throughout their lives.

      I don’t think the first photo is of an American Bittern, which rarely if ever perches in trees. The bird is in weird plumage but I think it’s a young Green Heron transitioning to adult plumage, with the old immature feathers very faded and bleached.

      What a terrific spot to get great photos of those elusive marsh birds.

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