On a recent outing across coastal Nassau County on Long Island on a rainy, windy, dreary day, Stella Miller and I spent several minutes watching a Great Egret Ardea alba with an odd foraging strategy at the Marine Nature Study Area in the town of Oceanside.  As the bird slowly walked through the wind-whipped water, it angled its neck out from its body to its right.  It also tilted its head so that one eye was looking almost straight down into the water while the other was looking almost straight up into the gray sky.  When the egret struck (and the three times we saw it strike at prey it missed) it whipped its head to the left and plunged its head into the water almost directly in front of its body.  The only reason we could come up with for the odd foraging strategy was that with the wind whipping the water it was the only way the egret could see its prey beneath the surface.  Has anyone else out there seen such a strategy?  And does anyone have any other idea as to why a Great Egret would forage in this way?

In case my words failed to illustrate exactly what I am talking about, the first image below shows how the bird was walking along prior to striking (the other two images are there because, well, I like sharing egret pictures).

This post has been submitted to Bird Photography Weekly # 111.  Go check it out!

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.