April 28, 2007
The San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory hosted Great Blue Heron Day at Vasona today from 11am – 3pm. There are several types of herons but the Great Blues are huge and majestic looking (photo). I had never seen a nest of them, nor young ones at all, so after a couple of hours working this morning, I headed over to the park to see what was going on with this event since I had the rest of the day off.
The afternoon was warm but breezy. Volunteers from SFBBO were there with about a dozen telescopes set up at different heights (for all kinds of people) and pointed them at a few different trees with nests – it was actually a colony of them, all in close proximity to one another. I hadn’t known what to expect so optimistically brought my digital camera along. No luck with getting the birds’ photos that way – too far away, too high in the trees. But with the pre-aimed telescopes, I had a fantastic view of them.
The adults are lovely. The chicks are…well…interesting. Young great blue herons seem to do something with their necks and the skin flaps in and out frantically. I didn’t ask about it but my best guess is that they were screaming for food (too far away to hear).
What surprised me about the nests, though, is that the herons make their home in eucalyptus trees, which aren’t native to the area. But, as one volunteer pointed out, the trees have been here a long time – the birds have accepted them.
Additionally, educational information abounded, both pertaining to these particular birds and about the organization and locations to go birding around the bay. The volunteers were friendly and knowlegeable. There was no charge for using the telescopes or for the printed material. So my only cost was the $5 parking fee at the gate.
I am sure if it weren’t for this organization and the volunteers who took their day off to be there, set up the material, and talk to visitors, I would not have seen the colony of nests at Vasona. I’m sure I wouldn’t have – I didn’t even know they were there! So thank you, San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory. This was a great event and I’m thankful you were there today.
Before leaving, I took a whole lot of photos in Vasona and Oak Meadow, which I will share in the coming days. When I got to the parking lot, I put the camera away, thinking I was done. But I saw one more pic that I had to take, as it put a smile on my face. Enjoy.