Things couldn’t be going better early in the retirement cycle. Getting a lot of projects completed around the house and putting a serious dent in the honey-do list. One of those tasks was to finally get to the 2020 blog summary (see last post). That has been a dark cloud hanging over me as I continually procrastinated due to the amount of effort it takes to gather up the numbers. The problem is that triggers a project taking even more labor- the refresh of the bird list count. Mentioned in the summary that it was in progress – relieved to say that is now complete! I was going to chronicle that entire 48 step process, but decided that added no value to you and scrapped it (at least it is documented for my future refreshes). Drum roll please…. the current official bird count number is …more drum roll please .. 266 (well, it was.. more on this later). Not a number that is going to impress any serious birder for sure, however, I am rather proud of it as a count requires an identifiable photograph and an official feature here on the blog. I’ve decided to push to make it into the 300 club by the end of the year and to keep me motivated put it front in center on the left pane – go ahead and look, it should be right there to the left of your screen. I wouldn’t consider this a stretch goal as there are a number of new birds already in the queue just waiting their turn to be processed and featured. Good news is this means you will also be getting more recent accounts as I try to stay on top of the +1s (assuming everyone just muttered “about damn time” under their breath hehehe).
So that explains most of the cryptic title except the “Plus 1” part and the past tense in reference to the number above. Here is the reason for that.
Hit the jump to see/read more on the newest entry to the bird list.
After going through all the work to get caught up, figured I’d go ahead and get the quest started out right with …yep.. another +1. That makes the official count 267 (will probably update the stat on a monthly basis to keep the rework down). Pretty sure Ron is close if not past this number in an unofficial basis – with his photography blog (link here) the count rules changed and think he is closer to 10 at the moment.
Our featured feathered friend comes to us courtesy of our trip down the Texas Gulf Coast at the beginning of last year. In my defense, I have been purposely holding off on the haul from that trip to keep from stealing the thunder from a certain other person who happens to owe me bigley. Readers probably remember several hints about this throughout the year. That person was extremely busy last year so the delay was definitely warranted. There were +1s for me scattered throughout the trip and this Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron was one of them.
I happen to really like this bird and relieved I was able to get it in the tin. Drove all the way to Champaign back in 2015 to get the Swallow-Tailed Kite (link here) and one of these Y-CN-Hs that was hanging out at Kaufman Lake. Got the Kite failed on the Heron. Since that time it I’ve been itching for another chance.
One of the volunteer naturalists at Estero Llano Grande State Park was showing us around the park and took us to a pond Linda and I had missed on our first visit to the area. Immediately upon arrival this Night-Heron was spotted hanging out on a dead limb over the water. A bit in shock (as we were there to see another bird), brought The Beast to bear and started snapping away. Our guide was a bit surprised at my excited interest in one of their common residents. Most of the time the Heron just rested there on one leg snoozing the heat of the day away. Probably alerted by the continual shutter, it did manage to open its eye just long enough to get a few shots in the tin before coming to the conclusion I was just another groupie and went back to sleep. Later on spotted one tracking or movement on the trail. Went to get a shot and it took off after three shutter clicks. Not the best shot for sure yet pleased it shows a better view of the yellow crown in contrast to the Black-Crowned Night Herons (link here and here).
Ack, out of shots – time for some interesting facts to leave you with. First off, these Y-CN-H has a fairly limited range. They push up through the Midwest (primarily lower) for breeding which accounts for the Champaign, IL sighting. Off breeding season it heads back down to the coastlines of southeastern US and all of Central America. The signage at a couple of the NWRs we went to indicated these Herons were nocturnal hunters which led me to always assume they “only” hunted at night and the fact the ones we seen since then were mostly sleeping reinforced that belief. Cornell corrected this myth as it should read “also” nocturnal hunters so both day and night. They have primarily crustacean diets with some smaller invertebrates, snails, worms etc thrown in for some spice. Adopting social distancing well before our society embrace, they tend to keep their distance from fellow foragers (Cornell somehow figured out to be at least 15 feet) and taking a page from the evil Shrike “How to Torture Fellow Avian” bible, the Yellow will impale their prey for a more pleasant dining experience. Y-CN-H also hold top spot in the “Longest Standing on One Leg” competition in the prestigious Bird Olympics.
Will wrap it up there folks -time to go shovel off an area for the boys as they get cranky if the snow reaches their bellies. Hope you enjoyed the newest addition to the bird list.