A Year on Clear Lake-Dec 6, 2012

American Bittern – Dec 6, 2012

I am a fledgling birdwatcher. Mustering all my investigative skills, and pouring over several books, as well as the internet, I have determined this bird to be an American Bittern. Audubon identifies it as a member of the heron family.

While its breeding grounds are in Canada and the northern half of the U.S., it winters in the southern half of the nation, and farther south into Mexico and the Caribbean.

On this day we surprised each other. I stumbled upon him as I maneuvered to get closer to the shoreline for a better camera shot.  He surprised me by flying up from the water’s edge, and landing on the bulkhead. Audubon notes that when alarmed, the bittern may flush and fly away, or it may freeze with its head, neck, and bill pointing straight up, blending in perfectly with its reedy background. Now that would have been an intriguing sight.

It likes the wetlands and marshy areas, dining on fish, insects, crabs and snakes. Today it was content to stalk the water’s edge and pause to observe a nearby pelican at work.