Late last year, there was a great hullabaloo about a rare visitor to our shores – a Grey Heron in Tobago. I hurried across and got the opportunity to photograph it as well as another extremely rare migrant, a Lesser Scaup. You can see the images here.
On returning to Tobago months later, I asked a few local birders what’s happening down at the sewerage ponds, and the response was generally “oh nothing much really, well, the Grey Heron’s still there”
I had many a chuckle about that, this poor celebrated rarity had now been reduced to part of the landscape. Either way, I was very happy to head down there and look for it – for all of approximately two seconds. Large and seemingly in charge – it was the first bird I saw when I got there.
Superficially similar to the more common (or should I say less rare) Great Blue Heron, it lacks the tell-tale rufous on its thighs and shoulders. The lack of rufous is generally best discerned during flight.
The Great Blue Heron was present, but if I had any hope of photographing this bird, I needed to employ the usual tried and tested method of photographing skittish Great Blue Herons. Sneaking up as much as I could, I made an image that bore a striking similarity to an image I made of probably the same bird in the past.
Then something magical happened. The three large herons present all decided to converge on the wall – allowing for a true appreciation of how large the Great Blue Heron really is. It dwarfs its Old World counterpart. From L-R: Adult Great Blue Heron, Anhinga (female), Grey Heron, juvenile Great Blue Heron, Anhinga (male).
Note the rufous spot on the shoulder of the Great Blue, which is white on the Grey.