Among birders a
flock of Great Egrets goes by various names. Call it a sedge, a skewer, a
congregation, a heronry, or a siege (a flock of Cattle Egrets, on the other
hand, is called a stampede, which is as it should be).
But let’s call the
one sighted by local hiking guide Ron Seman in Beverly Shores on Tuesday a
siege. Just because.
however, was by almost any standard uncommonly large: over 30 Great Egrets,
Seman and the group
he was leading on a sunrise hike were returning to their starting point at
Mt. Baldy when they came upon the siege, around 8:45 a.m., in the wetland at
the intersection of Beverly Drive and U.S. Highway 12. “I couldn’t believe
my eyes,” Seman told the Chesterton Tribune. “There were not one or
two or three Great Egrets but over 30 of them.”
According to “The
Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America,” Great Egrets are
“usually solitary birds” but they will “gather in numbers where prey is
abundant.” Presumably Seman’s siege had stumbled upon a frog- or fish-rich
habitat and were in the act of besieging it when well spotted.
Great Egrets, like
all egrets, are wading birds typically seen in shallow water and grassy
marshes, per Sibley, hunting with great deliberation and extended neck. They
have black legs and a shiny yellow bill and their plumage is a snowy white,
yet they shouldn’t be confused with Snowy Egrets, whose feet are clownishly
yellow. Snowy Egrets are rarely seen in Northwest Indiana, while Great
Egrets are more common but nevertheless outnumbered by Great Blue Herons.
Great Egrets can sometimes be seen--singly--in subdivision detention ponds,
as one recently reported to the Tribune was, placidly predating at
Seman is available
nearly every day to lead a hike through the Dunes. Contact him at
Facebook.com/IndianaDunesHiking, at IndianaDunesHiking@gmail.com, or (by
text) at (219) 370-9119. “There is at least one hike every day and often a
few,” Seman says. “They can be from sunrise to sunset or to complete
darkness until 11 p.m. or official park closing time.”
Beverly Drive in
Beverly Shores, along with the Great Marsh Trail at the intersection of
Beverly Drive and Broadway, offers some of the finest birding opportunities
in Northwest Indiana during the spring and fall migrations.