Herons still stand over nests at the rookery off Amnicola Highway. One, probably male, flew in and landed on a branch where another stood above the nest. He dropped a stick on the nest and disgorged a silvery fish from his crop. The other immediately ate the fish. Then they emitted the strange grunting sound I associate with nesting herons.
Another pair stood above their nest. Each touched its beak to its partner’s shoulder. One turned away and squatted over the nest, facing the same direction. The other fluffed out his plumes and crest.
Gives mate a scaley fish
Fluffs out plumes; erects his crest
Soon she sits on eggs
At Amnicola Marsh, a lone Snow Goose swam among the Canada Geese. The white feathers with black wing tips set this species off from the domestic geese, as does its brown beak, unlike the pink beak of Ross’s Goose or the orange beak of a domestic goose.
The fall I worked at Assateague Island, I drove to Prime Hook in Delaware to find the thousands on migration. The inlet looked like someone had split a giant down pillow and let the feathers fall to earth. I drove to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge a week later and saw only a few. I had either missed the flight, or it had not come yet.
Those Snow Geese were on the Eastern Flyway, but I imagine the one that delighted my eyes this day in Chattanooga was off course.
White with black wing tips
Graceful swimmer among geese
Perhaps from Memphis