After getting some much needed yard work done, I decided to head out to Holiday Beach for an hour of birding before dark. I wasn’t disappointed!
In Carp Crossing, about 12 Black-Crowned Night Herons were actively hunting for food. There were a few adults but mostly immature birds. I knew my light was getting low so I decided to press on and get to the hawk tower. There have been recent reports of a Snowy Egret and a White Ibis on the opposite side of the lake in Michigan so I was in search of something rare here…
I didn’t find an Ibis or a rare heron, but I did find 4 American White Pelicans swimming in the marsh! The birds were west of the hawk tower. I could see them in my binoculars but the scope definitely solidified the ID. Though the Pelicans weren’t a new year bird for me, it was still great to see them there.
That wasn’t the only surprise for me. While looking at the Pelicans, I noticed a group of Great Egrets flying together so I watched them. Low and behold, they joined a much larger group of Egrets roosting in the trees south-west of the tower. I didn’t even notice this roost because I was so busy scanning the marsh. With fading light, I quickly started scanning through the Egrets, hoping to pick out something rare but no luck. It was still an impressive sight to see.
I wish I could have spent more time scanning through them but the park closes at 9 and security was waiting at the base of the tower, reminding me that I’d have to leave. I was able to get a decent count for my Ebird report (155) but as I was leaving, birds were continuing to fly in. I didn’t bring a camera with me so I tried to get a few shots with my iPhone but they don’t do the scene justice. You can see some of the ‘white blobs’ (not in focus) in the trees in the picture below. This was only one binocular view. The birds were very thick in the trees and at least a few rows deep. They were lined up for a fair distance left and right of this extremely poor picture.
It turned out to be a fantastic last-minute birding trip!