Connecting with Nature: Low Water Leads to Bird Fights

By April, the bottom mud was exposed in the shallow pond near our Fish Bay house. During months without rain there is no freshwater runoff to capture from the hill behind us, while a seasonal drop in the Fish Bay water level cuts off the flow of salt water through the inlet.

Small fish come into the pond along with the flow from the bay, and get trapped as the water starts drying up. The easy fishing attracted egrets and herons and other wetland birds.

One morning there was some unusual squawking and a flurry of wings so I went down to investigate. A couple of great egrets seemed to be quarreling over fishing rights.

“This pond’s not big enough for both of us.”

Then a third great egret dropped in.

Maybe I got a little bit too close to the action.

See video of the great egrets chasing each other around.

Meanwhile other smaller birds were busy snarfing up the fish.

A green heron
A spotted sandpiper
A clapper rail
An adult little blue heron
And a juvenile little blue heron – their feathers are white for the first year.

The young little blue heron got chased off by the adult.

But was tolerated by one of the great egrets.

A busy and exciting time in the pond.

Photos by Gail Karlsson. Gail is an environmental lawyer, and author of The Wild Life in an Island House, plus a new guide book Learning About Trees and Plants – A Project of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. John.  For more articles and local information, go to or  Contact: