Conquering My White Whale

An american bittern stands in marshy grass and cranes its neck, looking for potential predators
An american bittern stands in marshy grass and cranes its neck, looking for potential predators

After almost 15 fruitless attempts, I have finally photographed a local American Bittern that has been causing me grief. Time after time, I have gone to “the spot” without a trace of this bird, and time after time countless birders have reported seeing it, sometimes only an hour before or after my attempt. But I am happy to say that this ghost bird does indeed exist!

While not a rare species by any means, the bittern tends to be a secretive bird, often staying hidden within tall grasses and reeds. A few months ago, local birders began reporting seeing a bittern at Shoreline park in Mountain View, CA. I was excited about this opportunity, as I had never seen a bittern before and this location is relatively close to home. I soon found myself obsessed with finding this bird, half convinced that it would watch me approach in then dive into the bushes just to spite me.

Finally, yesterday, I succeeded in finding it after all those tries. I’m sure it felt more satisfying due to the difficulty – if I had found it the first time, I probably wouldn’t have been nearly as excited!