September 26, 2020
This Egret has been feeding on this small local pond for about three weeks. I’ve probably spent over 20 hours observing and photographing him stretched out over 5 different evenings. The thing I found remarkable and also confusing was how tolerant he seemed to be at close range. I’m certainly no expert but I’ve been chasing after Herons and Egrets for over 10 years now locally and in places like Florida and Virginia and I’ve never seen a bird so undisturbed by my presence. They’ll usually flush out if I try and get within 100 yards of them. I’ve found the birds in Florida to be the most approachable but nothing like this guy. If I sit on the bank of the pond, either kneeling or sitting on a bucket, he’ll land 15 feet away from me and just go about his fishing as if I’m not even there. My first thought was wherever he came from he was being fed. But that didn’t seem to make sense either because if that was the case he would most likely touch down on land and at least linger around me for a bit to see if I’d give him any handouts. But he lands in the water and then just goes directly to fishing and will sometimes walk back and forth in front of me about 10 feet away as if I’m not even there. Even if I move around a bit slowly to change position, the bird is not bothered. However, if I or anyone else, it seems, walks anywhere near him, even from a distance, he will take off immediately. It occurred to me last night, this bird spends a lot of time with the geese that are full time residents on this pond.
That in itself is pretty unusual as Herons and Egrets are for the most part solitary hunters. But here he is among the geese, seemingly undisturbed. Geese are pretty large birds. And there they are, sitting on the bank of the pond, just as I would be kneeling or sitting behind my tripod. Is it possible this bird thinks I’m just another goose ? There’s an explanation for everything that happens in nature. This is the best one I’ve been able to come up with so far.