a ‘two bittern’ day

 

An American Bittern 'skypoints' at Black Marsh Natural Area, North Point State Park, Edgemere, Maryland, USA.

An American Bittern ‘skypoints’ at Black Marsh Natural Area, Edgemere, Maryland, USA. © 2018 S. D. Stewart

Bitterns are notoriously elusive wading birds. Members of the heron family, they blend in with the reeds common to areas which they frequent, particularly when they point their heads to the sky, exposing their long streaked throats (see photo at left). Throughout the winter I made quite a few fruitless expeditions to see this particular American Bittern, which was overwintering at Black Marsh. Finally, this past Friday my persistence paid off and I happened upon it actively feeding in relatively open water. I even saw it catch a fish, though unfortunately that wasn’t caught on video. I could easily have watched this bird all day. I find all herons fascinating to watch as they feed, and this bittern perhaps most of all, given how secretive it is and how many times I’d previously tried and failed to see it.

Coincidentally (or not), I had literally just come from another park where I’d seen the American Bittern’s smaller counterpart, the Least Bittern, which is perhaps even more difficult to get eyes on due to its diminutive stature. Given how unlikely it is that I will have another ‘two bittern’ birding day anytime soon, if ever again, a commemorative blog post seemed appropriate.

A Least Bittern does its best to avoid the camera at Patterson Park, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. © 2018 S. D. Stewart

A Least Bittern endeavors to avoid the camera at Patterson Park, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. © 2018 S. D. Stewart

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