Wild Hare

Quest for the Least Bittern

so near yet so far


It happened by chance, as I was walking down a trail in Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, VA one day  I noticed a brown colored bird fly towards me and land in the tall grass in front of me. I initially thought it was a King Rail later on hearing its calls I realized it was a Least Bittern. These birds are seldom seem and usually only heard. I was so disappointed that I didn't get a picture. I waited close to 3 hours, but luck wasn't on my side. I was very determined that I was coming back and clicking a picture of this bird.

This is how my frequent visits to this place began. Each visit I would see something different. There were a variety of water fowl like Buffle Heads, Lesser Scaups, Canvas Backs, Pied Bill Grebes, Red Necked Grebes, Ring Necked Ducks, Mallards, Canada Geese, Common Mergansers and Gulls that I saw in the bay numbering hundred's.

Buffle Head 
Lesser Scaup

There was the occasional Wild Hare and Painted Turtle sightings. During the Spring and Summer months one can see Red Winged Black Birds, Warblers, Orioles, Blue Jays, Ospreys, and Bald Eagles.

Female Red Winged Black Bird
Painted Turtle

During all these visits I hoped I could sight the Least Bittern again but it just wasn't happening. I lost count of the number of visits and did think that I would never see it again. Then one day as I was leaving the place, I saw something fly by and land in the grass. I quickly fired off a few camera shots and on reviewing the photos, there it was a few blurry shots and others not so great.

Least Bittern flying over the Grass
Least Bittern

I keep hoping every time I visit this place, that I see this bird again and get good pictures. Dream of fulfilling my wish is certainly uncertain.

Picturesque view of the Occoquan Bay


Naveen Naidu

Data Engineer

I am a passionate wildlife photographer, interested in conservation and creating awareness about nature.