Friday evening, I took my dogs for a walk in Lockwood Park. When we arrived, the sun had already dipped below the canyon walls to the west, and the hills to the east were glowing pink in the fading light. The air smelled like blooming rabbitbrush, and my dogs bounced along through the bushes, spooking rabbits and quail.
Approaching the riverbank, I saw two Black-crowned Night Herons standing on rocks in the middle of the channel. Both stood with hunched postures, looking down at the water. One was brightly colored — an adult, with a dark back and a bright red eye. The other, a juvenile, was streaky-patterned, with duller brown-and-white feathers.
As you might guess from the name, Black-crowned Night Herons are most active at night, when they descend from the trees to feed on fish, insects, lizards, crayfish and other small items. Further down the trail I saw two or three more juvenile Night Herons fly by, sometimes making a croaky squawk. Seeing so many juveniles in one place made me wonder if they’d had a nest in the area, although Black-crowned Night Herons normally nest in colonies.
Next, a large white bird came flying up the channel — a Great Egret, which flew into a tall tree and perched in the branches. Overhead, another big bird flew over, with long slow wingbeats and legs dangling behind. It was getting darker and harder to make out colors, but the silhouette of the Great Blue Heron was easy to recognize, even in the fading light.
Several years ago, Lockwood Park was restored from the site of a trailer park to a county park with wildlife habitat and walking trails. It’s fun to see all of the wading birds that now use the site, and how the park changes throughout the seasons. If you haven’t been out for a visit, be sure to go check it out! Here are a few more photos from my walk.
Exposed riffles. Lockwood Park, 18 Sept, 2015.