Stalking the Reddish Egret

Recent rains have been both a blessing and a curse. When it is dry, the available water sources shrink and that concentrates the birds in the locality. You can usually find a lot of activity if you are willing to wade out in the mud. 

Late Summer and early Fall have been wet for South Texas. We have had drought conditions for so long - but these afternoon showers used to be the normal pattern. We need the rain, but it has made the mosquitoes much worse. A lot of the exposed mud flats are now covered with water and the birds that prefer to hunt in shallow water have moved elsewhere.

The mud flats around Bryan Beach have a lot more water now compared to high Summer. We recently went back looking for the white morph Reddish Egret I showed you earlier, and one or two were spotted way out from the road. We were about to give up, but then... a dark  Reddish Egret showed up. These darks ones are much more common than the white morph, but still a welcome sight. Remember, there are only about 1500 breeding pairs in Texas.

Young Reddish Egret, dark morph. Sony A77 II with 70-400mm G2 1/1600 sec. f/6.3 ISO 800

Young Reddish Egret, dark morph.

Sony A77 II with 70-400mm G2 1/1600 sec. f/6.3 ISO 800

This was a young bird, as he still had some light colored feathers. They do breed along the Gulf Coast in colonies like other herons and egrets. From what I read, these nest on protected islands near feeding sites. They don't congregate at High Island as the other local herons and egrets.

Young Reddish Egret a bit excited. Maybe they hallucinate like young kittehs? Sony A77 II with 70-400mm G2 1/1600 sec. f/6.3 ISO 800

Young Reddish Egret a bit excited. Maybe they hallucinate like young kittehs?

Sony A77 II with 70-400mm G2 1/1600 sec. f/6.3 ISO 800

He got a little excited at some real or imaginary activity on the shore and raised his tiny crest. During the Spring, they get a positively shaggy head and neck feathers for breeding plumage. Plus their bill changes color; the base is bright pink.

Maybe parent and offspring? Sony A77 II with 70-400mm G2 1/1600 sec. f/8.0 ISO 640

Maybe parent and offspring?

Sony A77 II with 70-400mm G2 1/1600 sec. f/8.0 ISO 640

Soon an adult joined the juvenile. Could be parent-offspring, they didn't seem upset by being so close. Waders are all territorial and generally don't tolerate another bird hunting the same prey close by. 

They walked around together while I fiddled with DOF settings to get them BOTH in focus. And I almost did. Confession: the photo above is a composite of two photos where I focused alternatively on each bird. But, they were really that close together! 

Young Reddish Egret Sony A77 II with 70-400mm G2 1/1000 sec. f/6.3 ISO 1000

Young Reddish Egret

Sony A77 II with 70-400mm G2 1/1000 sec. f/6.3 ISO 1000

And this must be a good season for them. This young one was lurking around Bryan Beach in mid-September. He doesn't have a ruff yet, and still sports juvenile plumage. I didn't see him catch anything and in fact, he was run off by an adult. I don't think this is the same as the young one above.  

Reddish Egret trailing water... Sony A77 II with 70-400mm G2 1/2500 sec. f/5.6 ISO 400

Reddish Egret trailing water...

Sony A77 II with 70-400mm G2 1/2500 sec. f/5.6 ISO 400

Then, around the end of September, we saw a nice looking adult at Surfside in the best shallow pond. Other times we have seen one hanging around under the bridge in an area way too dark for good photos. But, this pond has large, colorful clumps of Glasswort, the light was perfect and this guy was active. The tripod makes these shots possible; you get way too tired hand-holding a telephoto lens. 

I really like the water trail from his bill in the shot above. He was darting around, making abrupt moves when....

Reddish Egret airborne Sony A77 II with 70-400mm G2 1/2000 sec. f/5.6 ISO 640

Reddish Egret airborne

Sony A77 II with 70-400mm G2 1/2000 sec. f/5.6 ISO 640

He suddenly jumped straight up in the air. Maybe something startled him, who knows. All I know is this is why you pay big money for cameras and glass, and why you wait patiently taking shot after shot after shot.

Waiting for something remarkable to happen and be recorded. 

Do you have a lot of patience? Do you think patience can be learned? Is the payoff worth the time expended? Or had you rather have lots of new experiences?

Let me know in the comments below. SquareSpace never got back with me about this issue they were going to look into. Chrome works fine and I LOVE to hear from you!