The mother heron perched on a limb high up in the trees on the shore directly across from the nest, in a horizontal posture that would let her take flight in a heartbeat. She was staring intently at the nest and island and the far shore, watching. I sensed a longing in her stock-still watchfulness…
The day before, I discovered one of our fledglings in a cove midway up the lake, about two miles north of the nest. This is quite an achievement for a heron that had fledged less than three weeks earlier. I’ve observed the fledglings as far as three-quarters of a mile from the nest, but never that far away, and never that far north.
It bodes well for that fledgling’s survival, as the shoreline and fishing there is much more suitable for their foraging. Only a narrow strip of land separates that cove from the secluded inlet which is the best feeding ground, where I’ve watched the most fledglings grow over the past eight years.
The main concern for this one now would be territorial disputes with adult males in the area. Those can be exciting to watch, but can be deadly for the losing bird.
That day, an adult heron worked the eastern bend in the shoreline, about twenty yards from the chick wading along the northern-most shore. The fledgling was definitely aware of the adult, and watched it for a while before starting to forage. The adult was facing away from the chick, and didn’t seem aware at all.
Eventually, the adult reversed direction, and she noticed the fledgling. I say “she” because a male adult would have become territorially aggressive and attempt to chase off the interloping youngster. Instead, this adult fluffed out it’s neck feathers fully, which can be either a greeting display or a territorial display, depending. There was no ensuing chase scene, and eventually the adult lazily flew to the west end of the cove and the fledgling continued on fishing.
Later on, I paddled down to the nesting island. No fledgling in the nest, I hadn’t seen one there in a week (which doesn’t mean they didn’t stop by at night). Both parents were in the general area, the male was perched on rocks alongside a tunnel, perfectly camouflaged – his grey, black, orange, rust, and white feather colors echoed by the rocks.
The mother heron, however, was perched on a tree limb high up in the woods on the shore directly across from the nest, in a horizontal pose that would let her take flight in an instant. She was staring intently at the nest and island and the far shore, watching. I sensed a longing in her stock-still watchfulness, waitingness. I swear she was watching for her fledglings.
I may be anthropomorphising, but my sense is that she had noticed that the fledgling was missing from the nesting grounds.
The adults sometimes venture there, to the north and the mid-lake area , and the fledgling may return back south, so eventually the herons will find each other again.
Still, I sensed a longing in her stock-still watchfulness, waitingness…
(This took place September 2, 2012)
© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)
Posted on June 7, 2013, in Adult Heron, ardea herodias, Bird photography, Birds, Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, Mindfulness, Nature, Photography, Wildlife Photography and tagged ardea herodias, great blue heron, heron, heron fledgling, patience. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.