An Accidental Birder's Journal

The continuing account of Yellow-crowned Night-herons
in Gallinas River Park at Las Vegas, San Miguel Co, New Mexico
14 - 21 August 2015

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Fri, 14 August 2015
  I find Gr5 in a contemplative mood surveying his fishing grounds. Actually I read that Yellow-crowns spend 70% of their time foraging just standing still waiting for their prey to wander within striking distance. I take a few photos, then continue on my way. Ol' Gr5 also takes off, flying past me to his branch as stage and strikes an attentive pose, which deserved more photos.
  Before I had seen Gr5 I took a photo of a big billed dark-blue silhouette on a distant bare limb, now as I return a Blue Grosbeak lands on the path far ahead of me as a group of brown grosbeaks (females and juveniles) fly off from the river. I have only seen Blue Grosbeaks once before, again at a distance making a fuzzy-graph.

Sun, 16 August 2015
  The only heron I saw today was a gray one that flew low over my head going from tree to tree.

Tue, 18 August 2015
  Old Gr5 is in his favorite tree posing for those passing by, standing on one foot like a stork this time. I guess he has claimed this stretch of river as his private fishing ground as is the reported habit of these birds and has persuaded the others to go elsewhere. Just the sight of that bill on a threatening bird would cause me to back off. I measured Gr5's bill, it is 2/3s of the distance from the tip of the bill to the back of his head. The herons use it to stab the crayfish and crabs they eat. Gr6 on 8/12 has some white matter on his, possibly crayfish.

Fri, 21 August 2015
  Yesterday there were no herons. The nights here are in the 50's and the fall migration is on. The Yellow-crowned Night-heron is a warm weather bird and they are a long way from home, I assume they have moved on so I thought I would look for some other evidence of them.   After the heron catches his favorite dinner, crab or crayfish, he eats the whole thing or if it is a large one he shakes it to bits then eats all the bits shell and all. (A young lad showed me a missed crayfish pincher he had found while fishing) After digestion the heron regurgitates the undigested shell bits a la the owl. So I searched under some favorite trees and Lo! I found the evidence.
  I may not have seen a heron but I got a chance to watch a couple or more of Willow Flycatchers do that which gives them their name. They sit on a prominent perch constantly moving their heads looking for bugs. When they see one, Zoom they grab it mid-air, then back to the perch and surveillance. They must eat a lot of bugs to fuel all that motion. The picture is a collage of three photos.

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Peter Wait That's all for now,

this 30th of August, 2015