This post was originally written January 11, 2012. It was updated January 31, 2015.
One of the amazing things about the Crystal Coast of North Carolina is that we have enough space and water to have some really big feathered friends living nearby.
Our home which borders Raymond’s Gut is just off the White Oak River. It is a very sheltered spot, and I often measure the nastiness of storms by the number of egrets or herons seeking shelter. We had a great egret stake out some ground not far from our kitchen window during Hurricane Irene.
When it is really cold, the competition for the fishing grounds behind our home can become fierce with blue herons, pelicans and great egrets vying for positions in the nooks and crannies of the marshes.
Most mornings I will go for a walk along the boardwalk which surrounds our neighborhood’s clubhouse. It is a great vantage point for watching our big birds. It is not unusual to surprise an egret or heron. Sometimes they even spend the night under the boardwalk.
I like to think that I know most of their hiding spots, but every time I let that thought creep into my mind, I get surprised. A great blue heron doing a take off ten feet from your head will likely startle you, and certainly get your attention.
However, our big birds are fairly predictable. They have places where they like to go when they are spooked. Often they don’t go very far, and if I am careful and keep a tree between me and the bird, I can sneak up on them.
If I am really lucky, sometimes I can sit down on a bench and melt into the wood enough that they ignore me. Then I can watch them until I start taking pictures. Even the sound of a camera shutter seems to cause an alert so I have learned to put my digital cameras on silent mode. Still taking too many pictures or getting too close sends my feathered friends deeper into the marshes.
Here are pictures of Raymond’s Gut winding its way through the pines and marsh and of its eventual destination, the White Oak River. The area around our subdivision is perfect water for egrets and herons.
The picture at the top of the post is one of the favorite hiding areas for the herons and egrets. This is a picture of a great egret enjoying the sunshine on the favored perch in the little marsh pond.
He had flown to the grass when I spooked him while I was walking on the boardwalk. I had to wait a few minutes before the egret decided to hop up on the branch, but the picture was worth the wait.
Here is a shot of a great blue heron hiding at the headwaters of Raymond’s Gut just where a small creek enters the gut. They can get very secretive and walk up the creek to a point where it is impossible to see them without taking a kayak into their home space.
I try not to be too intrusive so kayaking into their hiding spots is not usually an option, but I do love to catch my feathered friends in their secret retreats.
This picture of a great blue was taken with a telephoto lens so I was hardly noticed.
The opportunity to spend time with the big marsh birds is one of the reasons that we live here along North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks.