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Two Leasts Bitterns and a Winter Wren at Tifft Today

Published September 09, 2013
Tags: Parks and Preserves, Leasts Bittern, Winter Wren, Brown Thrasher, Nashville Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Red-tailed Hawk, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Great Egret, Wild Turkey, Common Gallinule, Wood Duck, Hooded Merganser, Belted Kingfisher

I finally had some nice, long views of a Least Bittern today - TWO Least Bitterns, actually! I'm quite sure this secretive bird had no idea I was watching over the two of them, otherwise, I'm positive they would've slunk back into the reeds and disappeared from view.  From behind a blind, I got to watch as they hunted frogs, crayfish, and other small aquatic creatures, each straddling a couple of reeds with their long, yellow toes.

I've only had fleeting looks at a Least Bittern before today - and I found myself very surprised at their small size. They're even smaller than a Green Heron, measuring only from 11 to 14 inches in length. Their appearance and posture most resembles that of the Green Heron too but their coloring and shape more resemble an American Bittern. Besides their small size, their darker cap and buffy coloring are also good field marks to ID them.

After about an hour of enjoying the two bitterns, I met up with Doug Happ and we toured the preserve looking for Warblers. We were rewarded with a couple of Magnolias, a Nashville, a Common Yellowthroat, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and the surprise of the day, a Winter Wren.

The Winter Wren was most likely a youngster and seemed to be the source of some Black-capped Chickadees consternation. The chickadees were making a lot of noise and darting around the poor, confused, little wren. Eventually, all quieted down and the chickadees went on their way, but only after giving me a nice photo opportunity for the wren.

Other species we saw were: Belted Kingfisher, 2 Brown Thrashers, Wood Duck, Hooded Mergansers, Common Gallinule, Wild Turkeys, Red-tailed Hawk, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Great Egret, Double-crested Cormorant, Northern Flicker, and Downy Woodpecker.
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Least Bittern
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Least Bittern
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Least Bittern
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Least Bittern
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An uncommon sight of a Great Egret in a tree
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Belted Kingfisher
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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
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Nashville Warbler
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Common Yellowthroat
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Common Yellowthroat
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House Wren
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House Wren - seen shortly after seeing a Winter Wren
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Brown thrashers
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Hooded Merganser
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Red-tailed Hawk
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Wild Turkey
Reply from: Tim on 9/10/2013 10:24 PM
 Awesome job Sue especially on that winter wren.I only get quick glimpses of this bird before it buries itself in ground clutter not to be seen again.Wow!
Reply from: Sue on 9/11/2013 6:25 AM
 Hi Tim, I think if that wren were an adult – or maybe not getting harassed by the chickadees, it would have been much harder to see and get. Every once in a while, something works out nice! I wish it had sang; I love to hear them, perhaps even more than seeing them! Hope all is well! ~ Sue