Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cattle Egret

Earlier this month I past my first year posting to this blog. That was also the one year anniversary of my bird photography hobby. For the first few months I didn't even keep a list of the birds I saw; I always meant to, but I was having too much fun taking pictures.
Then I started reading OBOL which inspired me to start keeping track of what I saw. As the year passed, the number of birds I photographed continued to grow. I was also lucky enough to be able to take some time to bird during business trips in different parts of the country (and Canada) which helped add to the list.
Late last Autumn, as I was approaching 170 species, I set a goal to have photographed at least 200 species of birds by the end of my first year. I am happy to report that I exceeded that by 5! The only species that I saw, but didn't photograph was a Ring-necked Pheasant. I got a glimpse of a rooster at Jackson Bottom Wetland Preserve last Spring, but it darted into some heavy grass before I could get my camera to my eye. One of the reasons for only missing one bird is that until about December, I didn't even own a pair of binoculars. I just used my camera. Eventually I got frustrated with the reach of my 300mm lens and bought a pair at REI so I could ID distant birds. But, I still don't used them that much.
Anyway, I was thinking about this yesterday and recalled that there were a few birds that I had photographed on those business trips this past year that I wasn't able to ID. I thought maybe it would be interesting to post those birds and see if anyone had any ideas.
So I started looking through the thousands of pictures I've taken (luckily I have been pretty good about keeping them organized) and discovered an interesting thing. My identifying skills are improving (I also now have a Sibley field guide)!
I took the picture above during a business trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico last June. At the time I had no idea what it was. I looked through my field guide and online for white birds, but had no luck. But when I found this image last night and took another look, I thought it looked a lot like a Heron. Sure enough, I found that a Cattle Egret is white, has a reddish-yellow shorter bill, shorter orange legs during the breeding season, a shorter neck and is the smallest white Heron. The kicker is the yellowish-orange coloration on its breast; another breeding season feature.
So make that 206 species in my first year!


  1. Good job, and congratulations!

    I keep a photo album of Oregon birds that reached 300 after 3 years. There are still a few rather common birds that I haven't photographed (Sanderling comes to mind). A summer trip to Mt Hood or Crater Lake might get me a Clark's Nutcracker.


  2. Awesome! I only made it to 195 in 2010. So of course I made the ridiculous goal of 300 for 2011, haha.