Sunday, June 10, 2012
A second visit with the albino yellowcrown nightheron
Since discovering this odd bird, I wondered if I would see it again. Wondering is over; I came back to the same area and it was feeding in the grasses. This morning, the outgoing tide competed with the 10 knot easterly winds. Despite being on the water 4 hours before low tide, there was plenty of grasses revealed for the wading birds. This is not always the case with water levels greater than a foot or so. But it appears the prevailing easterly winds have swept the grasses up into the shallows, creating clumpy grass islands everywhere. This is an interesting way to find wading birds as the water levels are relatively high right up to the edge of a grass island. This makes approaching a wading bird very tricky when there is wind.
The east wind was assertive and my boat was easily blown toward the grassy areas. The waves caused the boat to rock, making photography impossible. My only chance of capturing the birds was to get close enough so that I could anchor the boat with my feet. Several yellowcrown nightherons (adults and juvys) and a few other wading bird species speckled the grassy area. It didn't take hard looking to find the albino yellowcrown, it was alone on one of the islands, furthest from the shoreline. Excellent! I might possibly be able to approach the bird. Soon, I was foot-anchored and attempting to photograph the albino bird within about 40-50 ft. Clouds were passing over the sun on occasion, but otherwise, lighting was excellent. Over time, the winds settled down and the water receded enough that I could easily ground the boat and keep it stable.
Lots of other activity was happening near by. Normally, I would go after the dancing tricolor heron that was busy catching food; but today, I wanted to stay with the white yellowcrown nightheron as long as possible. Later, I came up on a normal colored yellowcrown nightheron and to contrast it with the albino, included a few photos of it here. In addition to its white feathers, notice the albino bird does not have the white breeding plumes on its head, and it has a yellow beak rather than a black one.