My sketchbooks are as much a journal of my birding experiences as they are collections of studies. Flipping through some old drawings last night, I was reminded that the Elora heronry should be seeing some activity by now. After a steady diet of feeder birds and waterfowl during the long winter months, the angular, serpentine forms of herons would be a welcome change.
Herons have superb stereoscopic vision, which gives them a rather goggle-eyed look when viewed head on. Treetops are also very much not their element, and although they try very hard to appear elegant and composed (with their long plumes and deliberate movements), they can’t quite shed that appearance of comic ungainlyness.
There were ten nests but only four adults visible when I arrived this morning. Only one of the birds appeared to be brooding. The others stood guard but did not appear particularly alert: two preened, and one was snoozing. The arrival of a fifth heron prompted a bit of half-hearted bill clacking, but things quickly settled down again. Near the end of my visit, the familiar keer of a Red-tailed Hawk drew my attention to a dark shape settled in the bush. The hawk continued to call, and eventually moved to a tree much nearer to the nesting birds. This roused the herons, who watched the raptor attentively and raised their crests. Eventually the intruder moved off, circling just above the trees, but after returning a few minutes later to repeat the performance I wondered if perhaps the red-tails were nesting nearby as well. I’ll have to keep an eye out on my next visit.