Play it Again, Sam: Freshly Fledged 2013 – Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh

“We saw a great blue heron,” exclaimed the excited young boy in the blue kayak.

My pulse quickened.

I hadn’t seen any herons at all at the nesting island since July 12th, the day of the sibling territorial standoff out on a limb

An extreme heat-wave had settled over New England, and it was too hot for kayaking on the lake, and by the time the temperatures moderated, I had been off the water for six days – a long and aching absence as I wondered about the fate of fhe two fledglings, who had appeared very-nearly ready to fledge at last sight.

Monday, the 22nd was the first foray back. It was thrilling to find that one of the two 2012 fledglings had successfully migrated back to his home on the lake. Absolutely thrilling. However, through the binoculars, I could see no fledglings in the nest atop the tall tree on the island.

Tuesday, the 23rd brought a sighting of a newly-fledged great blue heron in the small cove on the eastern side – what a gorgeous creature. There is a hidden nest in that area, I have never been able to see it in person despite watching adults and fledglings in that cove for seven years in a row. Absolutely thrilling. However, once again no fledglings sighted at the island, just an empty nest.

On Wednesday, the 24th, as I was headed for the nesting island once again, a flotilla of two mothers and their children in five kayaks bottlenecked the entrance to the keyhole tunnel.

I struck up a conversation with them as I waited my turn to pass, and asked a young boy, “Did you have fun?”

“Mom, what was that bird we saw at the island?” he replied.

I prompted him, “The island has cormorants and swans and geese….” And here I paused for a few beats on purpose before adding, “And herons.”

“We saw a great blue heron,” he exclaimed.

My pulse quickened. Could it be? I hadn’t seen any herons at the nesting island for ten days, since the day of the fledglings’ territorial standoff out on a limb. I had visited the island for two days in a row, with no heron sightings, but maybe the young boy was right.

I waited for their full group to clear the tunnel, then paddled swiftly through, into the cove, and then further south past the small waterfall and then under the larger tunnel. 

At last, the island was in sight. I raised the binoculars and focused, then focused again. No herons in the nest, nor on the island shores. I aimed next at the north shore across the channel from the island, to the denuded limb and branch where herons have perched in the past. Nope.

My hopes were dashed.

Great blue heron fledglings in the rain. They fledged between July 16th and July 22nd, 2013

Great blue heron fledglings in the rain. They fledged between July 16th and July 22nd, 2013

Had they fledged during the heat wave? Or had they perished in the nest, where there was no shade to be found? The air temperature exceeded 99 that week, with a heat index of 109 degrees at surface level. I can only begin to imagine what the heat felt like seven stories up in a nest with no cover…

A cold front brought a sweet and drizzly taste of autumn yesterday, and the lake was quiet – I didn’t see another boat before the rain drove me inside.

I did once again see the female heron and her fledgling in the small cove, the same pair I observed on Tuesday.

And I did see a fledgling from the nest on the island at last. Absolutely thrilling.

In fact, I saw two. Both great blue heron chicks from 2013 have successfully fledged!

When I found them, they were taking shelter together from the rain under the leafy canopy on the limb and branch across the channel, where I had looked the day before. 

I like that they found each other after flying the coop, that they were sheltering from the rain together.

And I am again smitten.

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Thanks for the Weekly Photo Challenge nudge Sara Rosso and WordPress.
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(This took place July 25, 2013)

© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

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Posted on July 26, 2013, in ardea herodias, Art, Birds, daily prompt, Great Blue Heron, Nature, Photography, Photography challenge, postaday, Weekly Challenge, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. So sweet! Your discoveries give me goose-bumps!

  2. Great minds think alike for this challenge, Babsje! Great capture of the GBH with his catch!. 🙂

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