Great Blue Herons 1, Bald Eagle 0 (Not Art Nbr 6)
Wherein the Bald Eagle was looking for lunch in all the wrong places.
Readers may remember the dismay felt when a fierce storm toppled the Great Blue Herons’ nesting tree on the island in August, 2015. Back then, I wrote of that nest
those chicks are destined to be the last brood to fledge from our island.
Fast forward one year. I had no idea where – or even IF – the Herons would breed again in that area.
[Editor’s Note: All of these photos were taken in the rain, with the camera encased in a gallon-size ZipLok bag. Ordinarily, I feel that if I need to use yellow circles to point out features in a photo, I’m on a slippery slope and probably shouldn’t publish them, but this was an extraordinary experience, a once-in-a-lifetime and so I’ve made an exception.]
Suspense was palpable as I ventured south in search of Great Blue Heron fledglings. Over a short distance I counted them. One, two, three… then four, then five. Could there really be five fledglings there? One adult, then two adults – both on alert, staring in the same direction from opposite shores. And then Fledglings six, seven, eight on various patches of shoreline. I hardly knew which way to aim and focus the camera.
I panned down the western shore, and the Eagle perched on a stump at the water’s edge suddenly filled the viewfinder. So that’s what the adult Herons were watching so intensely.
Scanning the shoreline father south from the Eagle, the whole picture came into view. The Eagle was closely watching two Great Blue Heron fledglings.
Great Blue Herons are not noted for being playful birds, yet fledgling Herons, like youngsters of many species, often engage in rough and tumble play. The two fledglings on the shore were engaging in mock-territorial squabbles, one challenging the other, back and forth until they lost interest, all the while unaware of the danger posed by the Eagle nearby.
The Bald Eagle quickly took flight up into the tree canopy, unseen by the fledglings, but the adult Heron nearest stood up higher, alert on the shore. I scanned the trees, myself, but no sign of the Eagle.
The fledglings, meanwhile, had separated and settled onto separate areas of the shore. I worked my camera, trying to capture as many birds as possible in the rain.
Suddenly chaos erupted from the trees, and the Eagle swooped out and down, but just as quickly, some of the Herons took flight, too.
By this point, the Heron fledglings had scattered, and the Bald Eagle left the area, without its intended lunch. In the top photo here, you can see the Eagle soaring up and over the trees at the end of the lake.
But wait, what’s that you see in the bottom frame above? It was taken 5 seconds after the frame above it, along the same patch of shore.
Yes, there were two Bald Eagles that day.
Thanks to Ben H and WordPress for their recent WPC Challenge: Rare. This was an exceptionally rare experience to witness. In 2015, I had no sightings of Bald Eagles. Additionally, the bumper crop of Great Blue Heron Fledglings was the largest I’ve observed. On a scale of 1 to 10, that day on the lake was a 15 for me… But not for the Bald Eagle, who left without having lunch. For that, the Great Blue Herons and I are grateful.
From July 1 through July 30, 2016, I was the Featured Artist of the Month at the Summer Street Gallery. The Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced the walls of the lobby and theater in a one-woman show at The Center for Arts in Natick. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.
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™
© 2016 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)
Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagle, Kayaking, TCAN
Posted on September 5, 2016, in ardea herodias, Audubon, Bald eagle, Bird photography, Birds, Great Blue Heron, Photo Essay, Photography, Photography challenge, postaday, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged great blue heron, postaday, TCAN. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.