Three Days in May
One day in May.
That night, I went out on the back deck and called the cat for dinner.
It was late twilight, the world all in shades of grey, and still.
The orange Maine Coon didn’t come when called, but the great blue heron did.
The fast-fading light was an almost perfect camoflauge for his dark grey-blue plumage, but not for that vibrant orange bill, nor his pure white cap feathers.
He circled our cove end of the pond, then landed on the shore by my neighbor’s dock.
I grabbed the binocs and watched him weaving through the plants and foliage along the shore.
He worked his way across our back yard, passing behind large trees and small saplings, his long neck darting left, right, pointing arrowlike at the water just before striking out at dinner.
His colorings blended in so perfectly with the monochromatic twilight that my eyes were fooled many times.
Look, there he is! No, just a clump of leaves rustled by the wind.
Is that him? No, just the wavy reflection of some thin dock pilings floating on the water.
I watched for half an hour as he patrolled the curve of the shore, until he reached the stand of old pines and passed from view.
If I thin out the volunteer saplings, the view from the deck will be better.
If I thin out the volunteer treelings, maybe the heron’s hunting grounds will feel less secluded to him? He would feel more exposed? Less likely to linger on our shoreline?
I think I will leave the shore area overgrown for him, but trim back the second tier of the terrace, closest to the house.
I thinned weedy treelings by hand for an hour in the waning afternoon sun yesterday.
I started near the “first” birdfeeder – the most obscured one of the three. Lately, it had been left more than half full each day. I think that’s because its become inaccessible to approach in any reasonable flight pattern. Even the nuthatches that hop from tree to tree in short spurts of flight didn’t seem active at that feeder recently, and the mourning doves had no chance to gather and peck the ground beneath the feeder for spilled seeds. But that is all good – after all, was late May and the natural food sources are in bloom, so no one is going hungry.
After trimming back only a bit, it was clear there were other wonderful flowering plants lurking under the weedy canopy – small sweet wild Violets, Lady Slippers, Roses, Strawberries, Buttercups and more with names unknown.
None of them getting much – if any – sunlight at all.
So, that discovery made the act of taking down the treelings more palatable. Even still, though, I apologized to the trees before lopping them off.
Orange Cat helped with the pruning. He stood guard at the base of the oak, ever-ready to defend me from incoming squirrels or chipmunks and other ferocious critters that might bring danger.
I gathered the mounds of clipped trunks, the largest the circumference of my thumb, and carried them to the southeast side of the yard. In a couple of days, I planned to strip the excess leaves from the twigs and put them up to dry properly so they can be used to make baskets or screens.
And now, this morning, there’s a heron foraging along the shore straight ahead 50 feet.
I can hear his long slow fraaawwwwk fraaawwwwk like a baritone goose calling in slow motion.
Can I see him?
Not even after an hour of thinning the greenery was the foliage anywhere near sparse enough to see that patch of water.
Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes.
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™
© 2014 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)
Great Blue Heron
Posted on February 23, 2014, in ardea herodias, Art, Birds, Great Blue Heron, Heron, Kayaking, Nature, Photo Essay, Photography, postaday, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged great blue heron, postaday. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.