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2000: Little Blue Heron vs Snowy Egret

Little Blue Heron

Moving on to July in Santa Clara and a bird I saw and puzzled over on the 10th, tried to claim on the 12th and retracted on the 13th. We’ve all been there…

“On looking at my National Geographic to check the description I realise that I saw a juvenile at Sunnyvale Baylands on Monday. I just couldn’t reconcile the grey bill colour with any phase of snowy egret at the time, so I just assumed it was aberrant.

To get to the bird (probably long gone by now!) drive to the parking lot at the eastern end, right by 237. Walk further on to the bridge over Calabazas Creek, before which you turn left. Walk to the end, passing one building, the reeds where the night herons usually are and one lagoon. Hang a left and the bird was in the channel running to the right of that path about half-way along the lagoon.

Sorry this is a bit late. I was slow on the up-take.”

Then tail between my legs…

Snowy Egret

“Thank you to everyone for their input to the heron vs egret debate. I should add to my description that the whole bird looked quite different; otherwise I would not have given it a second glance. Perhaps someone would like to comment on the difference in jizz between the two species? To my mind the bird that I saw was very hunched up in a way that I had not seen in a snowy egret. Again that was what drew my attention to it in the first place. I didn’t know of the possibility of a hybrid, so I guess that really makes things difficult.

And now another possibly unusual bird, this time at the pond to the north of the radar between Moffett and Sunnyvale Baylands. At first I thought it was a dunlin: it was certainly that size, shape and structure. However, this had dark brown, somewhat mottled upperparts, clean pale underparts, a streaked pale brown wash on the breast and a brownish crown. There was a suggestion of an eye-stripe. The bill was about the length of the head and fairly sturdy, just like a dunlin again. The sun was directly overhead, so I could only say that the legs may have been greenish. It was perched quite still on a rock.

I have my own thoughts on what it was but my guide suggests that it is even more unlikely than a little blue heron, so I’m a bit leery of making a pronouncement. Anyone any ideas?”

Ha! Wimping out on that one! But I had gone for the little blue heron at Alviso, that had originated the discussion, for my 159th Santa Clara species, and picked up a bonus of brown pelican there for 160.

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