Black-crowned Night Heron

SA Bass - - Sa Bass / Lifestyle - Happy Bird­ing >> Jo Dreyer

World Champs fever is in the air and I haven’t been as ex­cited about Bass Fish­ing as I am right now.

6 of SA’s best rep­re­sented our coun­try in Por­tu­gal in Oc­to­ber and it makes me very proud to say that one of them is my hus­band. You made us proud boys!

I can’t help to say that thanks to Rudi’s hard work and ded­i­ca­tion to the sport, I have be­come a ded­i­cated birder and it has given me many op­por­tu­ni­ties to visit many dams and see many dif­fer­ent species.

Of­ten when I go out on the boat, or even just on a bird­ing drive I will see a bird I don’t have a pho­to­graph of yet and miss the shot. I have a hard time keep­ing my­self calm when I miss the op­por­tu­nity, but the great thing about Rudi’s com­pet­i­tive fish­ing, es­pe­cially when it is the pre-fish stage of the com­pe­ti­tion, is that I know that there is a good chance that I will have an­other op­por­tu­nity to get a photo.

One par­tic­u­lar wa­ter bird, which in my ex­pe­ri­ences is very shy and I have strug­gled on many oc­ca­sions to pho­to­graph, is the Black-crowned Night Heron.

The rea­son why it is shy is mostly be­cause it is in fact a noc­tur­nal bird. It is su­per quiet and finds the per­fect roost­ing place to cam­ou­flage it­self quite well. It is a small to medium sized heron which also con­trib­utes to­wards its elu­sive­ness.

Hav­ing said that, it is not ex­actly the most sub­tle bird. When it is flushed, you know all about it. It makes a sound that you would not think such a small­ish, shy bird could make.

The Black-crowned Night Heron is a stocky, com­pact heron with a heavy, black­ish bill, red­dish eyes and yel­low un­der­parts. Its face is white with a yel­low wash. The head has a black cap that con­tin­ues into the black on the back. It has a fringe and its outer-wing is grey and the in­ner-wing and back is black. The belly is also white with a yel­low wash. Its legs and feet are yel­low.

It is a fairly com­mon res­i­dent, how­ever very il­lu­sive. It is not dif­fi­cult to see or find, but let me tell you, it doesn’t sit still when it knows it is be­ing stalked for a photo.

This heron favours sluggish rivers with over­hang­ing trees, lake shores (of­ten in rocky ar­eas), man­groves and rocky shores. It breeds singly or in loose colonies, usu­ally along­side other herons and egrets. The nest­ing site is al­most al­ways over wa­ter, usu­ally in reed beds, less of­ten in trees, oc­ca­sion­ally on bushed cliff-faces over­hang­ing a river. Their nests are usu­ally dis­persed through the colony rather than be­ing clumped. The nest is a small saucer-shaped plat­form of reed-stems or twigs, not dis­tin­guish­able from those of other small egrets and herons un­less the bird is seen in at­ten­dance. The nest is built by the fe­male while the ma­te­rial is col­lected by the male. The clutch size is 2 to 4 eggs laid at two day in­ter­vals. The eggs and chicks are brooded and tended to by both male and fe­male.

When I fi­nally got my photo of a Black-crowned Night Heron you can just imag­ine how elated I was, how­ever, this is usu­ally the feel­ing with all my bird photos.

Once again well done to the Protea Team for tak­ing sil­ver at the World Black Bass Cham­pi­onships and a very big thank you to all the sup­port they re­ceived.

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