I have lived here in Tucson for the past six years and in that time I have experienced and marveled at the incredible diversity that exists in the Sonoran Desert's avian world. One thing that I never expected to find here was a heronry. Perhaps it's just my own preconceived notion of what birds I would find here but I still find it's presence somewhat unusual. That being said there is definitely a heronry in the heart of Tucson Arizona at Silverbell Lake.
I have been to Silverbell Lake only once in the past five years and on that visit I saw only one Great Egret and one Great Blue Heron. Silverbell is a local man made fishing, picnic, dog park, series of ponds that are not that large and frankly not the cleanest park in the area due to it's central location and heavy usage. On my visit there today I cleaned up trash around one of the ponds which after a weekend of picnics needed some attention. It's hard to understand why people would leave such a mess in a park that they use to enjoy the great outdoors.
When I first arrived I spotted this Great White Egret in the corner of the pond close to shore feeding and as I was trying to get a picture the Great Blue Heron flew in and sent the Great White scurrying. I think they must be fairly used to each other because they settled down right away and fed in that same area for quite awhile.
There were three different Great White Egrets around the lake but they kept moving around so I'm not sure which ones I photographed but they really stand out here in the desert. Information on the Great White Egret can be found at: www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/great_egret/id
There were many Great Blues moving about the ponds sitting in trees and on poles and on high tension towers. I estimate around a dozen. Read about the Great Blue Herons here: www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Blue_Heron/id
I'm not sure exactly how many ponds there are but in the middle of the largest one is an island with some large sycamore trees and in these trees are several large heron nests with young herons. The nests are not that noticeable from the west side of the island but I was tipped off to their presence when an adult landed and there was loud calling from the herons already occupying the nests.
Heronry- Make sure to click on the photo to see the enlarged version of the heronry.
Neotropic Cormorant perching near the heronry. www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Neotropic_Cormorant/id
To top the day off I saw several Black Crowned Night Herons around the ponds. You can read more about them at: www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/black-crowned_night-heron/lifehistory