Nature Heron visitors

A yellow-crowned night heron is being seen regularly these days in Norwood Cove in Southwest Harbor. This is considered a rare visitor here on MDI and then only in late summer when it does come to visit.

Night herons always have sort of a ‘hunched over’ appearance as they fish patiently near quiet waters. There are two possible night herons to see here; they are the black-crowned night heron and the yellow crowned night heron. Both are on the rare bird list, seen in some years and not in others and when they are seen, only a few individuals.

My sightings of the black-crowned heron on MDI have always been from the Bass Harbor area especially over near the Bass Harbor Marsh and in Bernard. The yellow-crowned being seen these late summer days is in the cove by the Causeway Golf Course.

Night Herons often have a hunched-over look as if they are ‘shrugging’ their shoulders. They have a stocky look as they stand on their longish legs. These herons can just about become invisible as they stand in the grasses along the water and patiently wait for fish, crab or a frog to come within reach. They are patient fishermen.

If you disturb them they let out a ‘squawk.’ A night heron’s nest is not particularly a ‘thing of beauty.’ It’s quite a jumble of sticks and grass heaped upon supporting branches. Take a look at pictures of this heron; it is quite a beautiful bird. Any one in Florida for the winter should watch for these herons.

Right now, check out Norwood Cove in Southwest Harbor.

An adult bald eagle visited my pond this week and was a delight to see up close. I know we can see eagles frequently but up close, especially, they are beautiful and spectacular birds to watch. They are masters of flight and very majestic. They also let another bird catch the fish and then they steal if from them. I watched one day at the small pond in Somesville, next to the library. An osprey had caught a nice fish and was headed off to eat it when an eagle came swooping in and made the osprey drop the fish. The eagle caught the fish in the air and went off with its prize. The osprey then had to look for and catch another fish. This happens regularly. Crows, ravens, gulls and eagles will often feed together on a dead seal, deer or large fish on the beaches but the smaller birds always defer to the eagle and stay out of its reach. If a smaller bird gets too ‘pushy’ it may end up as part of the meal.

In my small pond I have the beautiful plant called arrowhead (Sagitarria latifolia) in bloom. This is also called duck potato. It lives right in the water and is easy to recognize because of its very large, dark green, arrowhead shaped leaves. The white flowers that bloom from this plant are arranged in whorls of three and have rounded petals and yellow centers.

The striking leaves and pretty flowers of this plant standing in some muddy waters is actually a beautiful scene. Plants that grow in water such as this must be able to breathe below the surface as fish do and so be adapted to thrive without any gill-like parts as ponds often dry up in the summer leaving the plant stranded.

The long leaves of the arrowhead underwater are ribbon-like in order to bring the greatest possible area into contact with the air with which the water is charged. These grass-like blades glide easily and are unaffected by a swift moving current. Larger leaves would be ‘torn to shreds’ by these movements. The plant grows larger broad leaves above the surface and on muddy shores, thus exposing them to the sunny air.

Since tubers are eaten by ducks, local pond owners, hoping to encourage wildlife by providing food for them, plant arrowhead in shallow ponds. Both broad- leafed arrowhead and narrow leafed arrowhead are found locally in the United States. Muskrats and porcupines enjoy the tubers and plants.

If you are looking for guided walks and field trips I heartily recommend getting in contact with the Somes Meynell Sanctuary in Somesville for their schedule of trips.

Send any questions, photos or observations to teahouse [email protected] or call 244-3742

Ruth Grierson

Ruth Grierson

Send any questions or observations to [email protected] or call 244-3742.
Ruth Grierson

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