Sunday, 19 June 2011

LOCAL MEGA - BLACK-CROWNED HIGHT HERON at Stockers Lake - 0900 hours to at least 1800 hours

Yes. the odd-plumaged immature BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON was showing well from 1600-1800 hours at least when I and 35 other local observers connected with it. It was sleeping for a lot of the time at the front of one of the islands but was in good view - and was best observed from one of the fishermen jetties at the north side of the causeway.

The bird is in a very odd state of plumage, being very juvenile on the underparts and upperwings but darker in the crown and rather grey-toned and unstreaked on the back. The bill is black-tipped and blue-grey along the length. Certainly an immature bird but either a juvenile born very early this year or a first-summer retaining a lot of juvenile feathers.

This is only my second ever Night Heron in the county, following an immature I saw in the very early stages of my career - in fact, Night Heron was my second-ever rarity - after a Tring Pectoral Sandpiper.

The bird I relate to was a juvenile at Lemsford Springs. There are just four county records -:

1) An adult present at Stocker's Lake on 6 September 1970;

2) A juvenile at Lemsford Springs from 28 November 1971 until 19 February 1972;

3) An immature in the River Mimram Valley seen on 3, 5 and 19 January 1972;

4) A juvenile spent four hours perched in a tree in a Stevenage garden on 12 August 1994

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