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Sure sounds like a BCNH.  My first experience with them was just 
as you describe, an odd sort of bark unlike any other bird, and 
then a rapid, unseen retreat.  Took me a number of visits to the 
same spot on the banks of a lake to finally actually see them 
hanging out tucked into the overhanging tree branches. 
Definitely worth trying to sneak up on this time of year. Their 
pigtail breeding plumes are quite wonderful, especially on such 
an otherwise unshowy, querulous sort of bird.

Jane

Jeremy Smalley wrote:

> Around 7:00 tonight we heard a strange call, almost like a
> bark, coming from a group of black locust trees near our
> house.  The trees are about 200' from a large swamp.  We got a
> quick look and then it flew over our house (away from the
> swamp) and landed in a group of trees about 400' from the
> house.  After looking at our bird guides and a CD of
> recordings we think that it was a black-crowned night heron.
> It would be a life bird for me and my dad.
> 
> Natalia Smalley Brandon
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