A Year on Clear Lake-Apr 7, 2013

The Little Blue Heron is back after being gone for nearly a week, though I’m not certain this is the same one. He appears smaller than our regular guy, and his plumage doesn’t seem to be as pronounced–though, it could be the angle of the sun and the camera (I’ve been fooled before).

This has been a fun thing to watch–the Little Blue Heron as its  plumage changed from non-breeding to breeding. When I first photographed the heron back in early January the neck area was a faint maroon, and the bill a light gray color with a black tip. By March the  maroon color had become more much pronounced and the bill had turned a bright turquoise. In addition, the bird has grown long plumes on the crest of its head. (If you click on the photo to the left it will enlarge and you can see the changes more easily.)

It’s one thing to see the breeding/non-breeding plumage displayed and compared in a book or on a computer screen, and quite another when the change is evolving right before your eyes. But that is true of everything–the difference between knowing something (book-learning) and experiencing it first hand. And that is why I love this project, and am grateful for it. To witness first hand, day-by-day, the changes in the seasons from the migration of the birds, to the migration of the sun, not to mention the changes in the foliage and the weather–makes nature come alive in such a dramatic way.

If I have learned anything, it is to be attuned to the outdoor space around us (no matter how big or small) and to watch it closely as the changes unfold daily. It is so rewarding, and something so easy to overlook. We must never take the mystery and beauty of nature for granted. It is a too precious a gift.