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A host of herons

February 1, 2016

White-faced Heron on a Flowerdale roadside

White-faced Heron on a Flowerdale roadside

White-faced Herons are a familiar sight on roadsides and near farm dams in the district, but we were surprised to see a total of 14 of them rise in a group and wheel around overhead when disturbed from our dam the other day, giving their croaky call as they went (click on the audio below to hear a sample). No camera was available to record this, of course, and now they are only coming in groups of 3 or 4, and are very wary – thus the poor quality distant photos.

Often solitary, the heron is reported to form companies in autumn, but autumn is still away off, and 14 seems quite a large flock – maybe something to do with El Niňo weather patterns perhaps?

The White-faced Heron has also been known as Blue Crane, a misnomer since the cranes (Brolga and Sarus Crane) belong to a separate family, despite their superficial similarity. It is found throughout Australia as well as Indonesia, PNG, New Zealand and nearby Pacific islands.

Janet sent us the central photo above which shows one surprise sighting in her daughter’s backyard pond in suburban Montrose! Click for a closer look.

White-faced Heron calls:

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