What a strikingly beautiful heron.  Look at the spots on his neck.

What a strikingly beautiful heron. Look at the spots on his neck.

I saw my first White-necked Heron (Ardea pacifica) today. It was in a wet paddock in Castlereagh a few kilometers north of Penrith.  With it were three White-faced herons.  In comparison to the other three, the White-necked Heron was a very large bird. It was also super-alert to my presence, while the others ignored me.

Birdlife Australia provide the following description –

“The White-necked Heron is a large heron with a white head & a long white neck with a double line of black spots running down the front. The upperparts of the body are slate-black, with plum-coloured nuptial plumes on the back & breast during the breeding season. Underparts are grey streaked with white. The bill is black, the naked facial skin is blue or yellow, the eyes are green, & the legs & feet are black. The White-necked Heron is sometimes known as the Pacific Heron.” More information can be found here – http://birdlife.org.au/bird-profile/White-necked-Heron

Endemic to Australia, except for desert areas, they are nomadic outside nesting season & can stay for only a few days before moving on. Sightings of the White-necked Heron have been reported in Papua New Guinea & the Bass Straits Islands.

I felt privileged to have seen one.

Side view.

Side view.

White-faced herons in the paddock with him.  These birds are a common sight along the Cooks River.

White-faced herons in the paddock with him. These birds are a common sight along the Cooks River.  

Advertisements