POW! A Great egret hits the water for a fish or frog strike.
A member of the heron family, the Great egret or Common egret, is about three feet tall, slightly shorter than its cousin, the Great Blue Heron. It is easily distinguished from the Snowy egret by its black feet. Snowies have yellow feet. Like all herons, Great egrets fly with their necks retracted. Ibis and storks fly with their necks extended. We have ibises in Maine, but not storks. Great egrets are common along the southeastern seaboard of the United States, but are migratory in Maine.
This Great egret was fishing on the north end of Center Pond in Phippsburg today. The first time I ever saw one of these was in North Bath on the upper reaches of the New Meadows River. The New Meadows is actually a tidal inlet and not a river at all. I had a house there which is where I raised my children. I was, in fact, about thirteen months pregnant with my daughter when I saw my first Great egret. My parents were visiting and we were all having lunch out on the deck. Someone shouted, "Look! What's that huge white bird over there?" I didn't know what it was, but I responded "Well, look at me! Obviously, it's The Stork!" That was twenty-four years ago, almost to the day. My mother gave me a gift of my first birding field guide. I still have The Audubon Society Field Guide To North American Birds, Eastern Region with my mother's inscription in the front. My mother hasn't spoken to me since 1993, but I've still got the field guide and every time I see a Great egret, I think of my mother and that day. It was probably one of the last times that we had lunch together. It's a long story why we don't talk anymore. Every family has something. That's what people say to me. I don't have any guilt about why we don't speak, but I do have regrets. I regret that my mother doesn't know me as an accomplished photographer and a reasonably good birder, thanks in part to her field guide gift. I regret that one day, someone of us will die before this is all set right. I regret that for now, and perhaps forever, the words "every family has something," are the best that we can do. That's not really good enough, but it has to do, and that, I regret.