NANKEEN NIGHT HERON (Nycticorax caledonicus)

For a change, I thought I’d do a post on each of the 100+ Australian birds I’ve photographed and identified over the last 10 years.

When I first spotted a Nankeen Night Heron on the bank of the Ornamental Lake in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens I was thrilled as I thought it was a rare bird.

It was early in my photography hobby and I’d never seen such a beautiful bird.   I seem to have lost that first image in a computer crash, but I’ve got plenty more photos taken over the years.

Over many months (and years) I discovered they were common, especially in winter on the large island in the middle of the Ornamental Lake when the trees are leafless and the winter sun shines directly on the bare limbs.

There’s supposed to be Nankeen Night Herons in the Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve behind my apartment building (above in the lower left – photographed from the 5th floor) and somewhere in the parkland up and down the Maribyrnong River near my home (below) but I’ve never seen one since living in the area over the last 4 1/2 years.

I hope the image below is helpful for overseas followers to appreciate that I’m no longer living close to the city (of Melbourne) which is partly why I rarely go into the city these days and certainly never do street photography.    

The image is from a Real Estate advertisement but no mention of the photographer was given so unfortunately, I can’t credit that person with this image. Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve is about 100 feet from my ‘back door’. Not obvious in this image is the fact that my apartment building is built about halfway down a very steep slope on the western side of the river valley.  Melbourne city is shown on the horizon.

The images below are a mixture of photos made in the landscaping of Melbourne Zoo as well as at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.

The mottled brown and cream pattern on the back and wings indicate a teenage heron.
This photo was made in what I call the Pelican’s lagoon at Melbourne Zoo.  Australian Pelicans and Cormorants congregate on the water around 4.00pm each afternoon when the keepers feed them from the boardwalk above.  I imagine the Nankeen Night Herons living on the lagoon island get their own food from the muddy water.
I think this image was of a heron on an unpathed area of the Botanic Gardens.
I’ve just cropped this image on 2 sides to make the heron’s body a bit larger within the frame.

This rather poor image (below) shows what I call the Heron tree in the Ornamental Lake.   The tree is dead and can be covered in 20+ Nankeen Night Herons warming up their feathers in the winter sunshine.

I’ve always been fascinated by the two slim white feathers adorning the ‘neck’ of the heron.   Why did Mother Nature put those feathers on the adult bird?  (I haven’t yet asked Mr Google that question).

I was kneeling down about 3-4 feet from the heron when I took these photos in the Zoo restaurant courtyard (next to the Japanese Garden).

NANKEEN NIGHT HERON (Nycticorax caledonicus)

NANKEEN NIGHT HERON (Nycticorax caledonicus)

The next minute the heron turned and started walking straight towards me and I had to stand up and move away from its path.

This heron was photographed on a small island adjoining the main lake in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Apologies to the long-time followers who followed my old nature blog and will have seen these images several times before.