The Least Bittern is a bird that is certainly a regular inhabitant of the ubiquitous marshes that dot the prairie landscape of where I live in west-central Minnesota. Yet I had never seen one. This is due to the bird being so secretive and elusive and its habitat being so thick and uninviting that our small contingent of county birders rarely bump into it.
Late this summer the army of metro birders in the Twin Cities were flocking to the Wood Lake Nature Center where two very cooperative Least Bitterns were being seen from a boardwalk that cuts right through the middle of the large marsh on the Nature Center's property. Pictures of these birds were spamming up the Facebook page of the Minnesota Birding group. It was a rare opportunity indeed to see such a bird up close and unafraid of pedestrians. Despite this, the two-hour trip was just too far to go for a bird I could probably see someday within just a few miles of home. But as luck would have it, I had to attend a three-day training for work in St. Paul, so I was able to get over to the Wood Lake Nature Center and see this bird for myself. And what a delight it was to get this lifer with unobstructed views from just six feet away!
My whole family was with me on this adventure. As a bonus to this lifer, my son got to meet one his field guide author/photographer idols who was watching and photographing this bird right alongside us. Stop over at A Boy Who Cried Heron for the rest of the story.