It's amazing what things you can find when you consider time. Usually when I go hiking it's either late in the morning or in the early evening, or anywhere in between. There is plenty of daylight during these hours, so I get to see very many good things. But recently I decided to finally take Rainfield's advice and try going very early in the morning.
It was also the day of the last big storm that inspired me. The forest was so dark that it was a little spooky in there that day. I react to a scare like that a little differently than some people. I was absolutely thrilled and exhilarated! I decided right then that I had to have more of that! But how could I duplicate that fear, and maybe make it even more intense? Hmm...
I've got it! I decided to go to the only one of my nearer parks that are open before 8:00 AM. I have gone twice now. The first time just after sunrise, and the second time it was just before. The second time was the best because I got to see some amazing things. You'll here about some of them in the next few days. But first I just have to tell you about this bird in my pictures here!
This bird is a Black-Crowned Night Heron. I saw this bird in the same place both days I came here so early in the morning. I have never seen it at any other time. This is one benefit of going to a place at different times. It makes it seem like a completely different place, including many different animals, like this wonderful bird.
On both days I found this little heron perched on an old tree branch that was barely sticking out of the water. It's just to the right of the fishing platform. I really never expected to find anything when I went down to the lake, but I was hoping to get a few scenery photos there in the dark. So you can imagine my surprise when I found this guy just sitting there waiting for me.
At first I thought he was sleeping there, and maybe it was his chosen sleeping spot, but I actually stopped by the fishing platform twice on this last trip, and I found him there bent over trying to catch fish. Maybe he woke up since I saw him an hour before. He even turned and looked at me once before turning back to trying to catch his breakfast.
These birds are called night herons because they are usually nocturnal, but they can come out during the day too if the fishing is good. They have the widest range of any heron, and they can be found throughout most of the world. So look for a black-crowned night heron near you. You might get lucky enough to see one.
This bird in my pictures looked to be about 1 1/2 ft long or 46 cm, maybe longer. I have read that adults are typically about 2 ft long or 64 cm. The first one I saw was bigger than this one. This one might look small, but it's actually a very big bird. These birds probably look a little lighter in color, but remember that it wasn't really daytime yet when I took the pictures.
Just remember, this is the kind of thing you might see when you decide to challenge your fear. So go for a nice dark hike. But you should know that there are many unexpected things in the dark. Some of them might make your fear come to life, so always let someone know where you are.