Great and Snowy and More

Snowy Egret (front) and Great Egret
Snowy Egret ready to pounce

It’s a lucky thing to get a Great Egret and a Snowy Egret in the same picture frame.  I had that luck this morning over near the Schoolhouse Creek outfall in the southeast corner of the North Basin.  As I clicked, the Great caught a fish, and I was able to watch how the bird repeatedly squeezed its prey until it stopped moving, and several times dipped it into the water, before finally sliding it down the hatch.  It reminded me a bit of how a cat plays with a mouse before finishing it off. 

This corner of the North Basin featured not only these two egrets, but also a swarm of little Least Sandpipers, a Belted Kingfisher sitting on a wire, and a family of Mallards.  Later I scanned the putative Burrowing Owl preserve in the park, but my bird luck had run out.  A ground squirrel sunning itself on top of a big flat rock there was the only action I saw there at around 10 am.  

The two kinds of egrets are easy to tell apart.  The size is the obvious difference.  Then, the Great has a yellow beak and all-black legs.  The Snowy has a black beak and black legs but bright yellow feet.  

Great Egret eyeballing water
Success! Unless you’re the fish.
The bird squeezed the fish until it was still, and then squeezed it more, tossed it, and washed it for a solid two minutes before swallowing it
Finally, down the hatch!
Belted Kingfisher watches water from its perch on wire over Virginia Street Extension
Mallard M and F
Least Sandpipers busily stitching the mud near the Schoolhouse Creek outfall

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