On one of our photography jaunts we stumbled across a night heron family of three. For such a large bird (60 cm / 24 inches) they are surprisingly hard to spot.
The juvenile Nankeen can be identified by it's more speckled plumage which keeps the young well camouflaged.
The colour of the juvenile Nankeen is very similar to that of the larger Bittern and they are often mis-identified until their adult plumage of cinnamon and buff with a black crown, comes through. Also often confused with the Striated Heron.
This young Nankeen has nearly all of his adult colouring but retains some of the streaks around his neck and chest.
In breeding season the adults sport 'nuptial plumes' that consist of three long spiky looking plumes from the back of the head. In the above shot you can see one of these plumes reaching down along the left hand side of the body.
The Nankeen is also known as the Rufous Night Heron. They can be found hunting during the day if the opportunity presents itself but one look at those huge eyes and you can tell they hunt after the sun goes down.
It wasn't until he put his foot down that we were sure that strange looking thing on his chest had been his foot. The foot up position is apparently a common roosting pose.