Early this morning when it was still dark my Grandfather said "I'm going out on a bird hike." I asked him if I could come along. He said to make sure with my parents first. I had to knock twice on their door to get their permission. Then I headed to my room to get dressed. My sister Carina and I shared a bedroom while visiting my Grandparents during our Easter break. We live in Illinois.
Gramps was planning to walk all the way over to the heron nests but he looked at the sky and said it looks like it's going to rain. He checked the radar and said we could take his car to a place close to the heron nests. I asked Grandma if I could use her binoculars to see the herons, and she said ok. Gramps helped me to put them on the way Grandma wears them.
It had rained all night and Gramps thought it would be muddy, so he brought grocery bags for Cari and me to use as boots so we would not ruin our new tennis shoes. We got there and Grandpa was right. It was muddy all right. I am in the teal jacket and my sister is in the pink jacket.
Grandpa took this video of the herons just a couple of days before we arrived.
We got to the place where the herons were nesting and at first I couldn't see any. Gramps helped me find the first one. It was like a little gray dot in the green tree. When we got closer we saw three more. This one was higher up in the tree.
Almost immediately we saw a nest with a father bird in it. You can tell by the red legs.
It was a very pretty Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. Looking through the binoculars his head looked like a gold crown like he was king of the birds.
We walked a little ways farther and Gramps said there was another nest. We found three in all.
We walked down farther and saw a female night heron standing up and in the background saw a male sitting down. Gramps said it was the father sitting on the eggs with the female standing guard.
One heron didn't have a crown and I didn't know what it was at first. It was a young night heron from last year. Amazing! This one did not have bright red eyes like the adult.
As I walked along ahead of my Grandfather and my sister I saw something run toward me and then stand very still. I realized it was a deer. "Grandpa, Grandpa, come here. I think I see a deer!" They quickly came and Grandpa thought I was just imagining. Then he saw it WAS a deer. As the deer started running away he quickly took pictures. After it was out of sight he looked at the pictures and saw that it was a baby with spots. As we walked back to the car he said "It was the first one I have seen at this spot."
We stopped at the soccer park so that we could use the bathroom. We then walked along the little boardwalk that was there. We saw a few signs and the first one was about the poisonous Cottonmouth snake that can look like a non-poisonous water snake. It also said that when it throws up its head the throat is white, which makes it look like it has cotton on it. Gramps said the white is a warning to stay away.
Then our last stop was Chapel Trail. We heard a Cardinal singing.
As we headed along the boardwalk there was a turn, and then I saw a Mourning Dove. Cari said "Where? I can't see it!" So I helped her find it and she said "Oh now I can!"
Farther along the boardwalk we saw a Wood Stork that we had seen earlier from far away. Grandpa said "Look at it put up its wing. It's making shade to attract fish so it can eat them."
Two more joined in. One had feathers on its head, the other was bald. The one with feathers was just a baby and the other was a parent. They joined the other Wood Stork to feed.
The young stork wanted to be fed. He headed over to the Wood Stork that was already there and started pecking at her. The older stork flapped her wings to say "Get your own food!"
One stork flew away but the others stayed behind and fed.
Right where we were watching there was a sign on the boardwalk that told about the stork. Funny, it was right behind us!
We walked to the end of the boardwalk. Just before the end three big blue birds flew up. Grampa said they were Purple Swamphens. This was so exciting! I had never seen Purple Swamphens in my life before!
I asked Grampa what time it was, and he said it was 9:05. We were supposed to be back home by nine, but I forgot, so Cari and I had to race to get back to the car. But we were late. We had to get ready to go for a baptism in Miami. If you click on the picture you can see how clean our shoes are!
P.S. Grampa stepped in Bobcat poop!!!