Wildlife Count by Debbie O'Rourke: Humber Bay Park East, Toronto

July, 2002
8:30am: It has been a few weeks and it's good to be back. It's quite early: not nine o'clock yet. There is a little bridge across a small creek, with a little waterfall nearby that is a water intake for the creek. Something grey is hunched in the mist there: a small, comical-looking heron. He is about eighteen inches tall, He is being harassed by a swallow, and as he turns his head and flinches, a long dark crown feather trails and flicks over his back. He doesn't seem to mind me watching him, but he finally gets sick of the swallow and flies off. As I sketch him from memory, I notice that something large is watching me- a very tall, long-necked snow-white heron. When I look back at it, it eases into the tall shore grass, becoming invisible . When it takes flight, it is joined by another. Glorious birds, flying with heads tucked in and thin black legs trailing.

Black-crowned night heron: ink drawing

At home, I look them both up in my guidebook. Both are very distinctive: even to the body language. The black-crowned night heron's comical humch, the great egret's extended-neck pose.

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