What’s for Lunch? Hint – Great Blue Heron 1, Chipmunk 0
Never eat anything with a face?
Does that apply to great blue herons, too?
“And the great blue herons? They’re a study in Patience and Grace.” I’ve often said that. In fact, it’s a tag line for this blog.
But we need to remember that they’re not just graceful creatures, they’re also fierce predators. The top image in the right-hand sidebar is a potent reminder of the heron’s power: great blue herons average only 5-6 pounds, while the pike she has landed could weigh around 4 pounds. It was an epic struggle for her to catch and consume that pike.
Not only are great blue herons fierce predators, they are also opportunistic feeders. I have observed them eating a variety of prey besides fish – eels, crawfish, turtles, dragonflies, frogs, grubs, and plants – but until last week, I had never watched a heron catch a mammal.
One minute, she was fishing in a small cove, and the next? Striding down the shoreline, then striking out into the shrubs in one smooth, efficient movement.
The life or death struggle was no less epic for the chipmunk than it was for the pike, but for me, despite the instincts of a pro photojournalist, there was a vast contrast in the emotional charges of the two events. What I felt for the unfortunate chipmunk was stronger and deeper than what I felt for the pike, and I was repulsed by the chipmunk photos – by my own photos.
Yes, these sorts of predator-prey struggles are the way of Nature, the circle of life. There are some things, however, that cannot be unseen once the photographic genie is out of the bottle. I never could easily watch those nature videos of lions taking down elands in the African savannah. I cannot post here the dozens of crystal clear images of the great blue heron capturing the chipmunk, even though they would add to our understanding of heron behavior.
I cannot unsee them…
Did I ever mention that no two days kayaking at the lake are the same?
Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts. Michelle asked us to speak to the topic of contrasts. In this post, I look at contrasts on two levels: the photos show the contrast between predator and prey, while the commentary touches on the contrasts of my emotions towards a mammal as prey compared to a fish as prey. I linked to a series of photos of the heron devouring a ginormous pike, but am taking a pass at sharing the equivalent series of photos where lunch is a cute furry mammal.
Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for hosting the Wild Bird Wednesday challenge.
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, Chipmunk, Kayaking
Posted on July 1, 2014, in ardea herodias, Audubon, Bird photography, Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, Nature, Nature Photography, Photo Essay, Photography, Photography challenge, postaday, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wild Bird Wednesday and tagged great blue heron, postaday. Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.