The other day I was out for a gloomy walk when I saw something surprising, at least surprising in my neighborhood. A Great Blue Heron, fishing in the wetlands at Saylor Grove between Lincoln Drive and Wissahickon Avenue. I hope that this cell phone photo looks like a heron to you, and doesn’t bring to mind those folks who parade blurry photos of dark smudges as proof of the existence of Sasquatches. The bird was over three feet tall (really!) with a wingspan of at least five feet, and on a cloudy day it really did look blue. The wetland area was created a few years ago to manage runoff and to filter pollutants out before they enter the Wissahickon Creek, so I’m a little worried about the quality of this heron’s diet, but I’m happy that this wetland is attracting wildlife. I’ve seen wood ducks here a few times, as well as red-winged blackbirds which otherwise I never see in this neighborhood. Watercress grows along the marshy edges, and a friend in the neighborhood picked some before thinking the better of actually consuming it.
According to the Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior, herons from northern areas go south in the winter, so I may not have another sighting for a while, but I’ll start looking again in the spring.