[mou] Old Cedar bittern?

linda whyte linda at moosewoods.us
Sat Oct 6 18:40:19 EDT 2007

(sorry for the late posting/inquiry)

Yesterday (Friday) late afternoon, on the driveway down to the Old Cedar
parking lot, some very bright  warblers  (uniform yellow-green below,
uniform olive green above, subdued eye stripe/smudge) were commanding
attention. (I've searched all my books, and the nearest thing in size and
appearance are Tennessees, though none of the literature shows them this
bright; perhaps it was a trick of the sunlight on the green leaves of the
shrub in which they disappeared.)

All at once there skimmed over the cattails nearby, a light brown/tan bird
about the size of a night heron. There was no chance to see its shape or
flight pattern, because it quickly settled into the plants. When I walked
east along the trail bordering the first wetland, I stopped by the bench to
watch a kingfisher, and again, seemingly out of nowhere, the brown bird
raised up from the edge of the cattails. That time I was able to see a long,
slender neck extended, but there was no view of the legs. It headed low over
the cattails, toward the trees just below the nursery, then dropped out of
sight. I couldn't tell if it landed among the cattails or chose low tree
branches obscured by them. In any case it seemed alarmed by something,
because as it flew, it emitted a loud, "Che-onk, che-onk, che-onk !" kind of
call. I've only seen American bitterns a couple of times before, and on both
occasions they were sedentary, doing their "neck-straight-up-in-the-air"
pose, and silent. But I'm wondering if that's what the bird was, and if
anyone else has seen it there recently.

Other than that there were the usual, plus lots of yellow-rumps and
Nashvilles, a hermit thrush, a yellow-bellied sapsucker, and r-c kinglets.
There were a few reclusive sora calling by the observation deck, and among
the normal inhabitants some ducks much farther out that reminded me of b-w
teal but seemed to have prominent white and black wing-patches, and black at
the end of the tail.

Linda Whyte
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