Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Gray Heron on the Newfoundland Grand Banks Sept 2018

On 30 September 2018 at about 10 AM a GRAY HERON landed on the vessel I was on located 330 km east of Cape Race, Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland. (Note: the EEZ limit is 370 km so the bird was within Canadian waters).  There had been three days of light to moderate east and southeast winds prior to its appearance.  The winds were easterly across the Atlantic from southern Europe to the Grand Banks. Stalled post-tropical depression Leslie located between Newfoundland and the Azores was the cause of the winds.  This was the 4th record of Gray Heron for Newfoundland. The bird stayed on the vessel for eight hours.  It left under the cover of darkness. It appeared quite alert and healthy. It very wary of any sighting of  human on the boat.

The first picture. It was very foggy day. It took a good while before I knew it was a Gray Heron and not a Great Blue Heron.

 I got down on the main deck and looked out between machinery for better views. The first peak at the trademark white thighs.

It was actually the sharp black lines on the neck that started adrenaline rush. I knew it was as Gray Heron then.  The white thighs up to this point were difficult to be sure of through binoculars in the early views.


First look at the white headlights on the front of the wing as the bird caught its balance during a swell.






 The bird got nervous and flushed a few times providing some bonus views.


The white 'headlights' clearly obvious and quite striking compared to the rustiness on of the Great Blue Heron.. 

The legs are shorter on Gray Heron than the Great Blue Heron.  The feet make up about half the leg extension beyond the tail.  There is more leg showing on Great Blue.



 
There is a little more contrast in the pale gray upper wing coverts and the dark flight feathers compared to Great Blue Heron.

Screaming white thighs leave no doubt of the Gray Heron ID in this picture as it comes in for a landing.

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