The antics of the Reddish Egret, and of course its stature, distinguish this bird without further identification.
As soon as we pull up to the water’s edge at Indian Point Park, I can see the bird hopping and swaying, like a giant metronome, keeping time to some unknown beat.
I make my way up the boardwalk, hoping to get a closeup shot, but the bird is mid-hunt and so I have to settle for what I can get, busily trying to keep the bird within sight of the camera lens.
The hunt consists of the erratic movements followed by a grand dance that includes full use of the wings. The bird lifts one or both legs out of the water, and even hop backwards. I can’t tell if the motivation is to stun the fish, or mesmerize them – I know it has the latter effect on me.
I never actually see the egret make a catch, but the display lasts throughout our visit, and then just as we return to the car, it seems the curiosity has reversed roles. The egret has followed and is now checking us out.
The Reddish Egret is endangered and found mostly in southern coastal areas. Its number diminished almost to extinction at a time when it was all the rage to wear large plumed hats. While the numbers are increasing, there are still no more than 2,000 breeding pairs.