Readers’ wildlife photos

August 2, 2023 • 8:15 am

Today’s photos come from Doug Hayes of Richmond, Virginia, and are called “Back to the swamp.” Doug’s captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

Two trips to the Chamberlayne Swamp. The Bird Nerds are pretty excited about the hatching of four babies by a pair of green herons. On the first trip, the little herons were almost two weeks old. The most recent shots were taken eight days later. They should be ready to leave the nest in another week or so.

Bird Nerds Assemble! A few of the regulars gathered at the edge of the swamp for a morning of birding. The green heron nest is about 100 feet from this spot:

A belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) – one of my “bucket list” birds as these little guys are very fast and skittish around people and it takes a lot of luck to get a good shot of a kingfisher. This female landed about 50 feet from where we were photographing some anhingas and decided to hang around for a while, preening and drying off:

Even though she was aware of us, this kingfisher just went about her business:

A blue heron (Ardea herodias), a Great egret (Ardea alba) and an anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) walk into a bar…  The anhinga had been on that branch for some time, then the egret decided it was a nice preening spot. A bit later, a heron joined in:

Four baby green herons (Butorides virescens). The nest is only about 100 feet from the edge of the swamp. The babies were not quite two weeks old in this picture. One of the babies is quite a bit smaller than the other three. One of the Nerds said that the runt hatched several days after the others. One of the crew is quite a bit bigger than the rest and is very
aggressive at feeding time, pushing his siblings aside to get fed:

Mom returns and the feeding frenzy begins:

The joys of motherhood:

Babies fed, mom heads off to find more food:

The big guy keeping watch for mom’s return:

What a difference a week makes! The big guy and his siblings have outgrown the nest and are almost as big as mom. Most of the fuzzy down is gone, replaced by nearly adult feathers and coloration. The big guy is always on the watch for mom, making sure he is first in the chow line:

And the rest of the gang. The “runt” (top center) is still noticeably smaller than the others but is doing well. They spend all their time climbing around the branches of the tree where the nest is located:

Feeding time. As usual, the big guy goes first:

Fish for breakfast!:

Mom takes a breather before heading out in search of food for the gang:

Camera info:  Sony A7RV body, Clear View Digital Zoom, Sony 200-600 zoom lens + 1.4X teleconverter, Ifootage Cobra 2 monopod, Neewer gimbal tripod head.

16 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Shitepokes are among my favorite birds! That’s what I grew up hearing herons, especially Green Herons, called here in southeastern Ohio. Thanks for the photos!

  2. Baby herons!!! How adorable, like baby anything. What an excellent sequence. Great shots of the maddeningly elusive belted kingfisher, too.

  3. Great photos, thanks! And congratulations on being able to tick a great shot of a belted kingfisher off your list.

  4. Regarding birds I have notheworthy story from Lower Saxony, Germany. A male white stork and a female black stork have mated and are raising two young, which I spontaneously christened “cinder storks” because of their appearance.

    Experts say that this is very unusual, because black storks and white storks have different ways of life, and also prefer different habitats, nesting materials and prey.

    Black storks are cultural fugitives that normally breed in undisturbed forests and look for food in streams, explains Kai-Michael Thomsen, research associate and stork expert at the Michael Otto Institute at NABU. In contrast, white storks are cultural followers that have adapted to humans and look for food in meadows and pastures. That’s why such a mating is unusual in the wild, according to Thomsen.
    The sex of the chicks and whether they are fertile is also still unclear. Thomsen points to examples of mixed broods in zoos that were sterile and could not reproduce. Whether the offspring are infertile will not be known for at least three years.

  5. Beautiful photos. So great to see the baby green herons! I lived next to a small lake for some years, and saw green herons almost daily, but never got to see a nest or babies. What a treat! Thanks so much for sharing.

  6. At first I thought the runt would be swallowed by the big one (not an unknown phenomenon in birds), but no. I guess the parents were able hunters and took good care to feed all of them sufficiently. Quite a mean feat.

  7. That looks like a lot of fun photographing those herons. And congrats on capturing your bucket-list bird, the kingfisher. And what a nice shots! Thanks for the swamp report.

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