Monday, August 29, 2011

Least Bitterns near Canon City, CO: fledglings!

Due to post surgery restrictions I haven't been able to get out to the Holcim Wetlands where the Least Bittern was found 2 weeks ago. Since then other birders have seen possible male and female birds raising the possibility that there might be breeding occurring. I went out this morning and looked for them from 7 am to 11 am--I could hear Least Bittern soft 'cooing' calls off and on but could not spot any birds. Interestingly, the location the calls were coming from was right where I had photographed the Least Bittern the first time as it hunted.

When I left I stopped for some food in nearby Florence and checked my email on my Droid phone--a post this morning while I was at Holcim stating he had seen a male, a female and 2-3 fledglings yesterday between noon and 1pm. So I gobbled down my food and returned to Holcim Wetlands to try again, at this unusual mid-day time frame.

Doug had made it sound like a piece of cake but it wasn't so for me. I had even sat on the log he had referred to thinking that maybe being at a lower angle would obscure my profile and increase my chances. As 1:45 I got anxious and got up to look as I had to leave soon--I spotted an obvious fledgling, with it's fuzzy white feathers standing up from it's head and body, as it clung precariously to a cattail. I returned to get my tripod and tried to see the bird from there, but the angle of view obscured the young bird so I returned to where I first spotted it and got these pics. I took a number of pics over a 10 minute period of time and I am not sure if the fledgling in the top pic is the same one in the bottom pic as it looks darker. The white feathering appears to be left over from hatchling plumage so I believe it is a pretty young bird. Check out the size of this little bird compared to the nearby cattail seed head. (Click on each pic to enlarge then click again for more detailed viewing) SeEtta