The One that Didn’t Get Away – Weekly Photo Challenge: Curves

When the great blue heron resurfaced, her prize catch struggled mightily, the curve of its back straining left then right, scales and fins glistening.

The man in the hip waders put finger to his lips in the universal gesture of “ssssshhhh.”

I rounded the peninsula with smooth feathered strokes, and gave him wide berth. His casting looked slow and measured, with a little flourish as the fly arced out over the lake.

Fish were jumping that day, but not for him.

The green folding boat 20 yards away was having little better luck at fishing.

Across the lake, the tall wading bird plied the shore leisurely, biding her time.

Soon the flycaster in the silly hat would give up.

Soon the green boat would motor back through the channel to the lower lake.

Soon the cove would be hers.

Soon the fish that got away from Men, would be hers.

We waited together, she and I.

I let her take the lead, and soon enough she did.

Taking long purposeful strides, she passed the turtles lazing on the log, and parted the reeds.

Up and over the half-submerged pine trunk she climbed, all the while stalking something beneath the surface.

She stopped.

For more than 5 minutes she stood stock still in water up to her hips. She stared just offshore with an unceasing focus.

The only movement was a slight tilt to her head, first to the left, and then an almost imperceptible extending of her neck, up up higher higher until she was staring straight down.

Great blue heron landing large pike.

Great blue heron landing large pike.

Whoosh, as arrow beak pierced the surface, and her body lunged fully beneath the surface, energy exploding into water. Massive blue-grey wings half-unfurled broke the surface, rippling body muscles straining between wings and water.

How long she was under, I cannot say, I lost track of time, but when she resurfaced, her prize catch struggled mightily, the curve of its back straining left then right, scales and fins glistening. It was an epic fight.

And when she struggled to shore under the weight of her prey, I’m not sure whose eyes held more surprise — mine, hers, or the one that didn’t get away.
Thanks to Sara Rosso at WordPress for the inspiration of this Weekly Photo Challenge!

 (This took place October 7, 2007)

© 2013 Babsje. (

Posted on June 18, 2013, in ardea herodias, Bird photography, Birds, Fishing, Great Blue Heron, Nature, Patience, Photography, Photography challenge, postaday, Weekly Challenge, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I always wonder how the bird gets the fish down its narrow neck! I’ve seen them abandon hard-fought fat fish they just cannot manage! Great capture.

    • Yes, their neck structures are very flexible to enable swallowing prey that is rather large, but even so, I was apprehensive watching this one. It took a full 30 minutes for her to swallow the pike. I didn’t think it possble. And thanks for the kind words about the photo. Apart from cropping, not a pixel was altered. It came out of the camera as-is. Best, Babsje

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