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#ABArare – Gray Heron – Newfoundland

A Gray Heron (Code 5) has been discovered at Little Heart’s Ease, Newfoundland. It was first mentioned on the nf.birds group on March 9 as a Great Blue Heron reported by a local resident. Bruce Mactavish went to look for it on March 10 and discovered that it was actually the Great Blue’s Old World counterpart. This is about the sixth record for the ABA Area, with the first coming from Newfoundland in 1996, though it wasn’t correctly identified until 2002 (at which point it was a specimen at Memorial University of Newfoundland). There was another from Newfoundland that arrived via ship-assist, having landed on a vessel north of the Azores. There are also at least three records from Alaska (two from St. Paul and one from Shemya).

ABArare Gray Heron 10 March 2013 NFphoto by Bruce Mactavish

Little Heart’s Ease is northwest of St. John’s and southeast of Clarenville. Mactavish says it’s located in a partially ice-covered barachois with a few American Black Ducks. To get here, you must drive through the village of Caplin Cove. You will see a sign pointing to Little Heart’s Ease West. Stop here and the spot with the Gray Heron is on your right. (Click here for map.) Sometimes it is out in the open, but when it’s not, it has been found sitting inconspicuously along the shoreline near the trees, often around the house that is under construction along the main road. He says the locals have said it’s been there for about a week. He also reports that it may be in poor health, as it was feeding often and looked weak.

Gray Herons look very similar to Great Blue Herons. The most conspicuous difference, visible in the photo above, is the lack of rufous thighs. In flight, the leading edge of the wing also lacks rufous but is instead white (also visible in the photo). It is also smaller than a Great Blue, with shorter neck and legs.

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John Puschock

John Puschock

John Puschock reports ABA rare bird alerts and manages #ABArare for the American Birding Association. John is a frequent participant in rare bird forums around the web and has knack for gathering details necessary to relocate birds. He has been a birder since 1984 and now leads tours for Bird Treks, as well as for his own company Zugunruhe Birding Tours. He has led tours to locations across North America, from Newfoundland to New Mexico and from Costa Rica to Alaska. He specializes in leading tours to Adak in the Aleutian Islands.