Epic Great Blue Heron Swallows Ginormous Fish
Eating such a large fish can be deadly for herons. While they often abandon fish that are too large to swallow – which I expected her to do that day – they sometimes swallow fish too huge for their digestive systems to process, which is fatal to both fish and bird.
It was a nature photographer’s dream to capture everything that unfolded that day, and I was thrilled at the outcome: the great blue heron got her fish.
My emotions ran the gamut from excitement (at seeing the heron near the fisherman), to apprehension (at her getting too close to him), to alarm (when he whistled to her and started feeding her baitfish), to protectiveness (when I had to move close myself in case she got tangled in fishing line), to amazement (when she surfaced with that 2+ foot fish), to curiosity (at whether she’d be able to swallow it), to anxiety (about whether any of the photos I was firing off would turn out at all), to happiness for her (when she finally swallowed the fish without choking). It was a roller coaster.
She looked beautiful walking down the shore in the late afternoon sun.
But the question remained: would she survive digesting the fish? There were flashes of dread while I was watching her, wondering if I was witnessing the ultimate cause of her demise.
Would I see her again?
The boathouse closed for the year that weekend. It would be at least seven months before that question would be answered
Thanks to Ailsa for her Weekly Travel Theme: Still prompt. (When the fisherman tossed the enormous fish to the waiting great blue heron, I gasped, silently. While the heron attempted to eat the fish, I sat stock-still in my kayak, not daring to move lest the heron get spooked and choke on the fish.)
Thanks to Cheri Lucas Rowlands and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand prompt. She asked for jaw dropping, grand. The great blue heron literally dropped her jaw at the sight of the grand fish being reeled in, and my jaw dropped as the rest of this story unfolded that day.)
Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for the Wild Bird Wednesday prompt.
Thanks to Sue Llewellyn for her Word A Week Photography Challenge: Shadow challenge. I shadowed the heron for a long time, in order to make sure it wasn’t harmed by the fishing line or hooks. It is not recommended to get so close or feed any wild animals, but this bird was obviously already familiar with fishermen as food sources before that day.
A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.
Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.
Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™
The Tao of Feathers™
(These photos were taken October 7, 2007.)
© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)
Great Blue Heron, Fishing, Kayaking
Posted on December 14, 2013, in A Word A Week Photo Challenge, ardea herodias, Art, Birds, Fishing, Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, Nature Photography, Photo Essay, Photography, postaday, Weekly Photo Challenge, Weekly Travel Themes, Wildlife Photography and tagged great blue heron, postaday. Bookmark the permalink. 48 Comments.