Small dramas play out nearly daily on the Slough, I witnessed one today that was stumbled upon by accident. Mid afternoon I took Skunk Puppy outside mainly because she can’t be trusted to be on her own. I parked my chair on the Levee deck being content to sit watching a Great Blue Heron. I’ve been watching them in an attempt to pick out a tell-tale or two giving away that split second before they take to the air. It was on my neighbors dock face into the wind (25mph average) between two poles, a small boat in front of it and a houseboat 15 feet further. It was obvious the Heron would have to move to clear the stuff on the dock.
It was doing what Herons do nearly motionless studying his domain.
I took this image yesterday April 27, 2022, it may be the same bird however I suspect this one today is a fledgeling; it’s hard for me to tell as they grow so fast.
The Heron was on the edge of the dock not looking into the water which is strange and out of character. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted his main interest walking slowly towards the larger Heron; it had seen the intruder as well. I saw a small Green Heron with the Blue Heron in its path; Green Herons are 6 inches tall and the blue is 4 feet. The Green saw the Blue as it ducked under the bow of the small boat, meanwhile the larger bird had lost sight of the Green as it was looking across the top of the boat. The small Green Heron would have made a fairly good meal for the Blue if it hadn’t of turned on its heels and headed back to where he came from.
The small Green Heron hid under the dock, all animals do that unless if it’s during mating season then all bets are off. I did not see nor could I find the small bird; they are very well concealed in their camouflage.
Meanwhile the Blue Heron on the dock continued looking with no success. He backed away from his obstacles, I suspected he was preparing to take to the air. Backing up two steps it turned towards the open water and the end of the dock. Faced into the wind he flew low directly to the other side of the dock a mere ten feed away next to the houseboat. He was looking for the Green Heron, much to his disappointment it was not spotted. The Blue Heron took to the air again flying this time 25 feet to a dock on the far side of the houseboat. It searched the area of the near dock from afar, still not seeing the Green Heron it took to the air and flew across the slough into the pasture.
Now the Green Heron suspected the larger bird had flown the coop he emerged in front of the small boat again. Instead of flying off, these guy’s are unbelievably fast flyers, he walked across the dock to the edge. At that time he decided to make his escape and shot off like a rocket flying with the wind; there is no possible way the Blue could ever catch one flying. As the Green flew over the old dock on the other side I was surprised when a Night Heron was flushed from the Tules on the Levee’s edge.
I have never been one to pretend to know what an animal is thinking and this next event confused me with the word “why” rattling around in the hollow case the protects my brain. I looked down wind and the Green Heron is headed back and landed right where it made it’s escape. Now the Blue is on top of the Levee on the far side apparently still looking for the Green (what the heck?). Spotting it the big bird took off towards the near side, of course the small bird saw it coming. Taking to the air the Green Heron make a rapid retreat, the Blue Heron flew off to parts unknown; and the Night Heron? I lost track of it 10 minutes before all of this ended. I just have to comment; Good Grief.
Jacque Lebec Natural Self Reliance