I Watched a Great Blue Heron.

While sitting on the Levee last night before the sun went down I was (again) watching a Great Blue Heron. It was a young one, about one foot shorter than those I suspect are its parents. I watch them for tell-tale signs of taking flight and jabbing their long sword like beaks into the water. I watched it for nearly one hour before going into the house and coming back 15 minutes later expecting it to be gone. It was still on the dock when I returned in nearly the same position. I was interested only in watching it, my intention was not to take any photographs.

Depicting an adult Great Blue Heron they strike a regal pose and remain that way for sometimes hours. It gives a guy plenty of time to take as many images as wanted. They are very stoic barely moving at all except to lean into the wind or get in position to strike at prey. They prey on most animals it seems they are capable of swallowing any size of meal.

The young Heron in the photograph is the offspring of the bird in the previous photo. It’s plumage looks new displaying a subtle blend between the various shades of Grey. It remained in this position for two hours while I was watching and tossing the ball for Skunk-Puppy.

It would slowly walk its way along the edge of the old dock often peering into the water. Suddenly with the speed of lightning it drove its head toward the water spearing a small fish. I have always assumed they kill the victim before consuming however last night that did not take place. After nabbing the fish the Heron took a few steps back, flipped the fish and swallowed. Straitening out its neck apparently to make the travel down the pipe easier I was able to see the ripples on its neck. It appeared the fish was swimming down its throat.

Upon completing swallowing the bird dipped its beak into the water drinking water numerous times. I will go with the logical reason that it clears the throat and aids in digestion. It took place after I had watched it for about 1-1/2 hours, still looking for the behavior prior to taking to the air. Mrs. Lebec came out shortly after to water the Levee top; we are barely keeping the grass alive.

With the dog and Mrs. Lebec on the Levee the Heron was watching closely however it did not appear to be overly concerned. With water hose wildly spraying she aimed the flow towards flower pots on the dock next to the bird. That was the last straw, it suddenly took to the wing; my head was turned, I missed it. But that’s not a big deal, being creatures of habit the Great Blue Heron will return tonight as it has every night for a month or so.

Taking time to observe the activities on and around the slough is rewarding as it teaches me animal characteristics. That’s important when photographing them, especially important when the goal is taking pictures of birds in flight. Flying birds are one of the most challenging tasks concerning nature photography. Getting past the camera settings then actually taking the image is a task all of itself. I have to take hundreds of pictures to realize a few detailed clear images. Some photo sessions end up with none, I have deleted hundreds of them at one time. It’s advantageous for me to be very liberal in my deletions, however it is difficult to trash those that are very close to being a keeper.

Jacques Lebec Natural Self Reliance

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