Friday, September 16, 2016

Egrets, egrets and lots of egrets

Thursday, my painting group met up at the end of Stackyard Road in Rowley, in an area called The Great Marsh.  The skies were a deep cerulean blue with numerous cumulonimbus clouds floating along.
S Jaworski-Stranc, The Great Marsh, oil on panel
What overwhelmed all of us upon our arrival were seeing hundreds of white egrets milling around in the brackish pannes of the marshes.  In the large gathering were Great White Egrets, largest species with black legs black feet and a yellow-orangish bill, Snowy Egrets, smaller in scale with black legs, black bill and yellow feet and a lone Great Blue Heron.  Most likely they were gathering together before heading to their wintering grounds. All of us agreed one may see a couple of egrets hunting for food in the wetlands but not hundreds like this late summer gathering.  This sighting was magical.

        Just think... these beautiful birds were hunted close to extinction for their plumage to decorate women's hats in the 19th century.  In 1890 five million birds were killed annually for the fashion industry. The National Audubon Society was formed in 1895, New York State's Audubon Plumage Law (1910) banned all sales of birds and US legislation such as the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty (1918) helped to put an end to this avian travesty.  Today all of us can enjoy the privilege of watching these spectacular birds grace our landscape and our imaginations as was experienced by the plein air painters.

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