Close Encounter of the Heron Kind

Without warning, the juvenile great blue heron – peaceably fishing the north shore of the cove only moments before – straightened up to his full height. Then it dawned on me that his body posture had become suddenly “watchful.”

I followed his gaze down the cove, and there was the older adult male aggressively cruising full-speed straight at us.

The juvenile was riveted, almost cowering at the sight of the large adult. I took one last photo before he hopped-flew across the inlet to the south shore.

The adult swooped very low, gradually circled, and landed thirty yards away. He immediately fluffed up his back plumes, puffed up his breast, and strutted off in the direction of the younger bird. After a few yards of strutting, he broke into a full run and ran down the shore after the juvenile.

Adult male great blue heron in territorial display running along the shore.

Adult male great blue heron in territorial display running along the shore.

When the adult had closed the distance between them to less than 10 feet, the juvenile launched himself upwards and disappeared down the inlet.

The adult relaxed his ruffled feathers and lingered along the shore, fishing, his territory in the cove protected once again.

This was back in 2007, but the memory is as vivid as if it was just last week: it was the first time I’d seen a heron’s territorial display up close and personal. On that day, I managed a couple of photos of the adult’s feathers in display, but then the CF card filled up, and all I could do then was watch in silent wonder.

So, there are no shots of the close encounter between the juvenile and the adult for that patricular day. It was such a spectacle that I didn’t care about the camera.

And as I’ve said before, it is a choice to be present IN the moment, instead of focusing on the technology of recreating that moment for the future. In this instance, a full camera card brought me back to that lesson in mindfulness.

August 18, 2007

© 2007-2013 Babsje. (Http://

Posted on May 29, 2013, in Adult Heron, ardea herodias, Bird photography, Birds, Fledgling heron, Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, Mindfulness, Nature, Photography, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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