The beautiful young Wood Stork appears to have departed the shores of Cape Ann. As far as I am aware, no further sightings have been reported. A week ago, Tuesday the 23rd of November, the weather turned much cooler with early morning temps dipping in the low thirties. I observed the young WS foraging and swooping across the marsh at daybreak before heading to work. At the end of Tuesday, I didn’t see him, nor the following morning when temps were in the low twenties. Daily checks in all his hotspots have resulted in no sightings. Possibly the cold weather prompted a movement southward. Many of the Great Blue Herons that were also feeding in the marsh have also moved on. Perhaps most have gotten the message that it’s time to get out of here!
The Wood Stork has been on Cape Ann for over a month. I first caught site of him swooping over the marsh and into a tall deciduous tree along Route 128. The site of the WS in flight took my breath away. Several times I circled around trying to catch a second glimpse, but did not see. Over the course of the next month, many sightings were reported and by the mid-November, the WS had settled into the marsh near the railroad tracks.
Fortunately, I did manage to capture some footage of the Wood Stork foraging at dusk and am working on a short video. Most of its time spent feeding on Cape Ann, the WS was crouched down low with only torso visible. I really lucked out because the Wood Stork flew to an opening in a marsh tidal pool where I could see his legs and feet in action. This great gawky bird does an elegant dance shaking its feet in the mud to stir up edible creatures. At one point that you can clearly see in the footage, he does a delightful backward turn whilst foraging.
In reading abut Wood Stork sightings in Massachusetts (see story here, of an elusive juvenile Wood Stork on Cape Cod in 2019), I learned the Wood Stork is rather tolerant of people, which would explain why Cape Ann’s Wood Stork appeared relatively unfazed by the large crowds he attracted:
Mike Faherty, NPR, “I connect with Wood Storks, and not just because we are both bald. They remind me of my younger days doing bird research in the Everglades, where the Wood Stork is one of those birds that, although federally Endangered, could be seen in roadside ditches next to strip malls. Such is birding in South Florida, where the birds are tame and abundant even in the unlikeliest of places. Wood Stork populations crashed from 15,000 pairs to 500 pairs when the Everglades were ditched and drained in the early 20th century, but populations have stabilized enough recently to upgrade them from Endangered to Threatened.