Bashakill Flooding and Least Bitterns confirmed!

Adult Least Bittern in company of fledged chick 6/24/11

Today I kayaked the Bashakill once again to census the marsh birds. We have had extensive flooding over the last three days and my worst fears were realized. The water was three feet above flood stage and most of the nesting birds lost their nests. I had a total of 28 Common Moorhens today. 20 of them were pairs that were frantic over the loss of their nests and some actively trying to salvage nests just underwater. It was a very sad scene. Five others were just heard, and three others at the south end where the water wasn’t as deep were behaving normally and may not have lost their nests. The biggest news of the day was when I discovered an adult and a juvenile Least Bittern. This is the first time the birds have been CONFIRMED breeding in the county. Though they are present anually, no nest nor young have ever been found. I was able to take several photos of both an adult and one juvenile (see photos). Lastly, I found an adult basic plumage BLACK TERN at Haven Road this morning around 9 AM. The bird remained and Arlene Borko and Scott Baldinger were able to come and see it. When I returned at 1PM, the bird continued, and Lance Verderame was able to see it at 3 PM. Great Birding! John Haas

The two birds came out of a bush, the juvie first.  It flew just out in front of me, but I couldn’t get a clear view.  It was almost immediately joined by the adult.  I could get looks at each from either side of the plants, but not get a photo of them together.  Note the broad striations on the breast, bolder than a female would have.  Also note the size of the bird, the Arrow Plant leaves are about 8 inches long.  Also note the dark wing coverts.  Lastly, note the lack of a dark cap that an adult bird would have.  Also, a juvenile American Bittern would be over twice the size and they always have a white throat with black malar stripe on each side.  This juvie LB has a streaked throat with a single black line down the center.

Juvenile Least Bittern – Bashakill 6/24/11

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