If you visit the rookery around lunch time, as you come around the basketball court, you will probably see Lonesome Fred. Fred is the last great egret juvenile of the season to fly. He graduated from “wading” in the grass earlier last week, to gliding 3 feet above ground last Friday, and lifting himself 20 feet up a tree today. He is not yet ready for sustained flight. Despite regular offerings of fish in the troughs, he is thin and ever famished. We watched him gulp 24 fish in one sitting today, wag his tailfeathers pleasurably, and immediately look around for more. My word, egrets eat a lot! Let us keep an eye on Fred and continue the feedings.
To our amazement, Fred is not a bit lonesome at night! Around 8 p.m., small parties of birds began gliding into the rookery from the southwest. As this developed, we strolled around the rookery to get a better sense of things. Adult little-blue herons, ibises, great egrets, and snowy egrets, together with their young, flew overhead and everywhere. They kept coming in until they numbered about 200.
We found Lonesome Fred looking ready to turn in for the night. He even yawned once or twice. He stood on a big hackberry well away from the party.
The seriously “happening place” was the corner nearest to the staff parking lot and entry into the wooded path. The birds were perched, not in their former nests, but well “outside” the rookery, high atop the oaks and cedar elms, over the grassy areas. There was much talk and pleasantry, and lots of hopping beween branches to mix with other parties.
This resurgence of visits from large numbers of egrets began last Friday. This is unprecedented and certainly temporary.
I recommend a dusk promenade by the rookery this week. The festive atmosphere will cheer you. The marvelous sight of the white birds against the darkening orange-lavender sky is terrible for photos and perfect for reflection.