Lee Patrick

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron!

Yesterday, for only the second time, I rode my bike to Coney Island Creek for water sampling. Round-trip from my apartment, to the Creek, then to drop-off at the lab, and back is around 18 miles. Cycling there was always a goal but, until just recently, I would drive. In some past years, I had multiple points to sample from so driving did make sense. But maybe, just maybe because I biked yesterday, I got to spot this amazing, juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea)!

Photo of a juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.

Photo by Lee Patrick

See, when I drive I wind up parking on one side of Kaiser Park by Coney Island Creek. But now when I bike, I turn into Kaiser Park itself from the street, pass my old junior high school, and ride along the Creek for a bit within the park. In doing so, I pass a small fishing pier and this night-heron was pretty much perched in the open on a railing for all to see (although I’m not sure who else was really paying attention).

This little slice of serendipity was doubly serendipitous for me because I also happened to bring along my good camera. I was planning to try and film these little crabs that pop up along the beach. I needed a real camera zoom lens because the crabs, numbering in the dozens, disappear all at once if I even move a muscle towards them.

Instead, there I was with my best camera and this stunning bird, a species that I’ve seen much less often than its cousin, the Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax). Indeed, Audubon calls Yellow-crowned Night-Herons “more secretive.” Perhaps it was hoping to grab some easy scraps from the few fishermen and crabbers on the pier. It stayed for quite a while before finally flying away.