Since my frequent tandem canoe partner left retirement to work my tandem canoeing has suffered. He had last Friday off so we planned to paddle. Our first choice was near flood stage and has numerous trees that are very dangerous sweepers at high cfs. We have paddled at 900 cfs before the avg flow is around 200. However 2000cfs was more than we wanted try. So, we decided on the Saluda River below the Lake Greenwood Dam.
The weather was sunny and 38F when we put in and the high was 58F for the day. the close to 12 miles of river we had all to ourselves. It became more cloudy as the day progressed, and the sun poking through was certainly enjoyed. There was still some fall color with oaks like The Red, Black and Water Oaks still yellow, red, and brown, but the majority of trees had lost their leaves this last week. Lunch in the sun with the river flowing past was glorious as was the day as a whole. The hot apple cider to top off lunch hit the spot.
We saw deer, a Bald Eagle, numerous Blue Herons, Kingfishers, Redtailed and Cooper Hawks, and both Black and Turkey Vultures. The turtles came out to sun on logs around noon, but were quick to slide off at the sight of us. We saw one half grown Blue Heron which is a rare sight as they don’t seem to be on the water until they are much bigger. There was an adult near it that flew off but circled back through the woods. The young one flew up into a tree when we were spotted at a distance.
Looks like a fantastic day! It’s always nice to have the river (or any body of water) to yourself. So much more peaceful.
If you saw what looked like a “little” blue heron it was probably just that - a Little Blue Heron, as opposed to a Great Blue Heron. Birds are nearly full size when they fledge (leave the nest) and don’t grow much after that. So a significantly smaller bird than normal is likely a different species.
I am familiar with the Little Blue Heron. We don’t see them often around here, but they seem common in FL. We got a good look at the bird, and it was a replica of an adult but about half the size. I first spotted it from a distance as it flew up into branches over hanging the shore. My first thought was Great Blue, but it was noticeably two small. I thought maybe a Little Blue, Tricolor, or even Green Heron, but the coloring was wrong. We hadn’t seen the adult until it flew when we got closer, and I thought dang it’s bigger than I thought. Then uncharacteristically circled back and landed in a tree in the woods not far from where it took off. When we were across from the branch on which I thought I saw the smaller heron it flew away, so I had a much better look.
Now I haven’t seen young Great Blue Herons except when they are on the nest. Never really thought about them once they left the nest. So, I just now did a bit of internet searching. I didn’t find anything about them after leaving the nest. But they can stay for as long as almost 3 months on the nest.
I did find that Grey Herons which are rarely found in America can be mistaken for a Great Blue. They are smaller as adults than the Great Blue. Reaching a max of 39" while the greats can max out at about 54". Did we see a vagrant Grey Heron? I wish I knew, but it didn’t look like any other heron other than a Great Blue or Grey Heron. Wish I was able to get a photo of it.
That would be really cool if you saw a Grey heron! Some of these birds also occasionally interbreed, so you could have seen a hybrid of some sort. There was a GBH/Great Egret cross that lived at Fort Desoto for several years, he (or she) was intermediate in size and had paler feathers than a normal GBH, although the difference wasn’t drastic.
A possibility is the bird could have been blown in front of the remains of 2 hurricanes coming up this way. The Grey Heron is found more often in the Caribbean than in other parts of the western hemisphere. I suppose because of winds from Africa like the Cattle Egret. Makes me really wish I had taken a photo.
On a paddle after the remnants of a hurricane blew up through from the Gulf back in early September 2017. We saw numerous Wood Storks on this same river. I had never seen them here before or since. We also saw numerous Great Egrets which aren’t commonly seen on the river here.
I’ve seen them at the coast and on some black water low country river/creeks. Have a few photos of them and their nest over the Wamba. Haven’t seen them around here thought that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be. I had a close look and it looked like a smaller version of a Great Blue.