A great friend, Rich Paul, was an authority on Reddish Egrets. As manager of the National Audubon Society’s Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries, he studied them, protected their nesting sites, wrote about their life history, and was a tireless advocate throughout their range. Rich was also a mentor to me when I was hired by the National Audubon Society to establish a network of waterbird sanctuaries on the North Carolina coast.
I can see his fascination with these wading birds. In flight, they seem to float through the air. When feeding, they “dance” and run across the flats in pursuit of small fish or shrimp. They run with a drunken tilt or laser sharp focus, spin 180 degrees in a split second, and strike with lightning speed to capture their prey. One minute you marvel at their agility and elegance; the next minute they may have you laughing at their antics.
Rich lost his battle with cancer in 2005. The Reddish Egret Conservation Action Plan (2014) was dedicated in his memory.