Friday, 13 February 2015

The search for Ardea Purpurea – February 7th




For a couple of weeks I have been trying to see the Ardea purpurea or Purple Heron.  It was first seen on the final day of 2014 and spotted many times since then by various birders, except me.  I was hoping that February 7th would be the day I would see it, for it would be my 116th lifer.
I started my trip, reluctantly, at about 6 am.  I say reluctantly because it was a cold, wet and rainy morning, the type of morning that you would stay in bed and draw close to your significant other.  However, I was out and on the road.  The pull of Ardea Purpurea was very strong.  I substituted the warmth of my bed for the warmth of a flask of hot chocolate with marshmallows and two Coconut Shortcake cookies.  My plan was to travel to the parish of St. John with the hope of photographing the sunrise over the freshly cut pastures of the Redland Plantation.  The sun was not yet awake when I reached Redland, so I decided to head north with the hope of catching the sunrise from one of the ridges or on the sea cliffs.  That plan too, was adjusted upon seeing the sun rising over a pasture in St. Philip.  As I was driving to a vantage point, I stopped and spent a couple of minutes taking photographs of the sunrise and then headed off to the WSR.

At WSR 

As I drove into to the WSR and parked my car, my 116th lifer flew right in front of me from the north, and landed on the bank between the north and the North-West tray, as if it was awaiting my arrival.  At last the Ardea Purpurea.  I was so surprised to see it, that I had to grab my camera and start taking photos from my car, which was more than one hundred meters away.  Thereafter I ventured to the observation hut.  The bird seemed smaller than I expected.  It was a dwarf in comparison to a Great Egret, which was also in the swamp not too far away.  The Heron had a reddish brown plumage, with a long white neck and black lines on the sides.  It was not hard to identify.  I spent forty five minutes at the WSR photographing the Purple Heron but because of the distance I was shooting from, the quality of the photographs were not the best.
I recorded seventeen species that morning but of course, my highlight was to finally record my 116th lifer the Ardea Purpurea commonly known as The Purple Heron.