Tricolored Heron

Each summer for the last six years, at least one Tricolored Heron has been seen in the marshes around Portland, Maine. This is unusual as this beautiful blue/gray/purple and white rarely nest north of New Jersey . . . but weird hybrid birds have been seen in the area in subsequent years . . . so it appears the Tricolored Heron has been breeding with some of the resident Snowy Egrets.

This week, the Tricolored was seen in Spurwink Marsh in Cape Elizabeth, not far from our condo, so Ingrid and I set out on another birding quest.

Spurwink Marsh is about 4 square miles with a residential neighborhood to the north, a pumphouse and a meadow to the east, a cemetery to the south and causeway bisecting it to the west. With all these viewing spots it should be easy to find the Heron right? WRONG!!!!

The Marsh is also crisscrossed by dozens of channels, 5 feet deep and 10 feet across . . . think of the Death Star Trenches in Star Wars. Once a X-Fighter flies into one of these trenches, I mean a bird flies into one of these channels, It disappears.

Coupled with 35+ mile an hour wind gusts . . . it can make for frustrating birding.

We started at the pumphouse on the east side, using our spotting scope, affixed to a tripod and panned every inch of the marsh. We saw Eagles, Ibisis, Great Herons, Great Blue Herons, Canada Geese, Mallards and finally a moving blue and white blog at the extreme visibility of the scope . . . a Tricolored Heron.

A countable sighting but not very satisfying . . . analogous to Star Wars Prequel Movies with Ja Ja Binks. You were glad to finally see another Star Wars movie, but it wasn’t a very good Star Wars Movie.

Ingrid and I drove around the Marsh for another hour, often hiking through bramble to get a better view . . . but were never able find our quarry again.

Later that day while enjoying lunch O’Reilley’s in Scarborough (our first visit since the pandemic began) we received an email that the Tricolored Heron was visible from the meadow near the pumphouse. So we jumped into the Millennium Falcon (ok, enough with the Star Wars references) and raced back to the Spurwink Marsh.

The wind was unmerciful as we hiked across the meadow and still more bramble, carrying cameras and scopes can be exhausting and sure enough we had a distant view of the Heron . . . feeding right in front of the cemetery . . . a spot we could have driven right up to . . . AAAAAAAUUUUGGGGHHHH!!!!

So Ingrid ran back to the car and I lugged our gear back to the road and we raced back to Spurwink Cemetery (our 3rd visit of the day) and there right in front of us were two beautiful Tricolored Herons feeding in the salt pans.

We were soon joined by several other birders (and a few Ewoks), the wind died down for the first time all day and we watched the pair for 45 minutes. What a thrill!!!

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