Watching them Watch me.

It has been a busy 2 weeks, the last of the painting from the house fire in January was completed today. Last week we were buried with workers finishing various repairs, then at the end of the week disaster struck. My neighbor of 20 years a very good friend was in a horrific industrial accident paying the ultimate price this past Tuesday. I won’t get into the details; he was burned over 90% of his body. All of my thoughts were on him and his wife all week.

I took a bunch of pictures after the fog lifted the Egret in the photo was caught just after sunrise. The bird may be warming up after a cool night, in this sun it doesn’t take too long for the golden glow to perform it’s work. Caught in the light he doesn’t appear too interested in hunting, but it’s hard to know what they are looking at. With their eyes on the side of the head they are capable of looking nearly 360ยบ, he may very well be looking deep into the water.

After a short while he decided the scenery was better a few steps away. Many times when in this pose the large birds stare towards the direction they are about to fly off in. I have been searching for “tell tales” of when they are about to take to the sky. I have yet to discover one, sitting for an hour or more to catch a takeoff is a task I am no stranger to. Landings are much easier as they can be seen from a distance making their approach then gracefully landing.

The photo above was taken a few days ago displaying an Egret making his approach to land amongst the reeds and tules. He dove directly into the levee side weeds disappearing into the tangled mass. For a bird as large as an Egret to hide amongst them is quite a feat. A brilliant white plumage doesn’t seem to be much of a camouflage however it’s rated unless if in the snow.

The Great Blue Heron acts much the same holding a pose for at times an hour or more. They and the Egrets rely on the same sources of food hunting in identical fashion. I’m not sure how successful either are but obviously good enough to maintain at least a minimal weight. The Great White Egret will eat anything but seems to prefer small water creatures, although I have seen them with rather large amphibians. The Great Blue Heron on the other hand prefers small mammals and if the small birds chasing it are any indication they prey on birds.

I have seen the Blue Heron in the same position as the photo above displays his beak full of something fluffy. The victim is completely dead at this point with the Heron repeatedly dipping it into the water to lubricate it for its trip in and down. Both birds have more patience than words are able to describe, at times holding their position for an hour or more. But they are not successful during every hunt, indeed with chicks to feed in the nest they may not eat for a day or two.

Once again I wonder where they all go during the fire season and now during the fog stretch we are experiencing. From my way of thinking they make themselves scarce when they cannot see where they are going. During fire season they most likely head for a safe rookery a distance from their normal habitat. However during the fog it may be due only to not being able to see far enough to fly. The picture above was taken at dusk with the sunset reflecting on the water. During this time of year we have golden sunsets as often as 2-5 times a week. Blue sunsets are rarer but they occur some distance from the golden hour. A photographer living a mile South of me captured a blue sunset at the same time I took this image. It’s interesting how the colors of the sunrises and sunsets change as I move along the levee, it creates opportunities as displayed above.

Jacques Lebec Natural Self Reliance

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