Great Blue Heron Chase Scene (Not Art Nbr 7)
Heart pounding in my throat, partly hidden under overhanging branches along the channel, I watched the chase unfold. Will the Great Blue Heron Fledgling escape the territorial adult?
I was returning to shore after a relaxing morning, hoping to get back to the dock before the rains started. The grey skies threatened to open any minute. Passing into the channel, I noticed the adult Great Blue Heron foraging on the south side and so I stopped under the oaks to watch. This particular Heron was a capable fisher and it occurred that maybe I could capture him as he captured a big fish. I looked at the threatening sky and stuffed my camera into a handy ZipLok bag, and stashed everything else below decks, and then settled in to watch him work for his supper.
After a few minutes, a Great Blue fledgling landed on the same shore as the adult, about 20 yards east. My heart rate picked up as the fledgling quickly made a beeline for the adult, taking long strides along the water’s edge, closing the gap between them. Usually a fledgling will not try to approach a ‘strange’ adult Heron, and so that behavior was a clue that the adult was a parent of the fledgling. The question was, which parent – father or mother?
It didn’t take long to find out, as the adult Heron suddenly erupted from the shore, and burst over the small rock-island. He landed less than five feet from the fledgling, in an unmistakable territorial display posture that told me the adult Heron was the father of the fledgling, not the mother. Female Great Blue Herons will allow the fledglings to join in feeding activities even after the youngsters have left the nest. The father birds, however, will defend their territory and chase away their own offspring.
And so the chase was on.
Having vanquished the fledgling, the adult Heron landed on a fallen tree jutting over the water, his back feathers still in an erect territorial configuration.
He pivoted on the branch and settled in, staring up into the trees.
Where was the fledgling? I scanned and scanned the canopy with binoculars but couldn’t find the fledgling.
I tried to follow the line of sight from the adult Heron’s angle of view and at last found him about 50 feet up in the trees.
And so we three had a standoff – fledgling in the trees, adult on a branch at the shore, and me across the channel, trying to stay hidden below the oak branches.
People who know me know that my motto is “Walk softly and carry a long lens.™” Because most of the photos on this blog were taken on the water, it is especially important to give the wildlife an extra-wide margin of personal space so as to not endanger them in any way by venturing too close.
As much as I take special precautions to remain hidden from their view, including use of telephoto lenses and natural-cover hides, every once in a while the wildlife sees me. Such was the case yesterday – busted by both birds – the fledgling gazing down from his perch 50 feet up, and the adult glowering at me from across the channel.
The question was, which of the three of us would give in first. Would the adult give up his rapt focus on the fledgling? Would the fledgling make a run for it? Would I tire of getting drenched watching them from under the oaks along the shoreline?
It was music to my eyes to see the fledgling make a run for it. The adult Heron swiftly took chase, but the fledgling had enough lead time to soar around the corner at the end of the channel before the adult got close.
I paddled off after them, well off their intense pace. When I rounded the curve at the end of the channel and panned the sky with binoculars, there was no sign of either Heron.
Lazily, I headed into the first cove I came to. There was the fledgling on the southern cove. His body language was anxious, and he was repeatedly glancing back to the mouth of the cove. It seemed like he was “looking over his shoulder” to make sure the territorial adult wasn’t still chasing him. He eventually settled down and began plying the shore for dinner. I felt as though he had had enough excitement for one day, and didn’t need my presence to add to his nervousness, and so I quietly backed out of the cove and headed south.
Within less than 3 minutes of leaving the fledgling in the cove, a shadow passed very close and very low over me. It was the fledgling.
I love happy endings.
Great Blue Heron Fledgling 1, Adult Great Blue 0
Thanks to Ben H and WordPress for this week’s WPC Challenge: Edge. Ben has asked for something that kept our heart beating fast. Yesterday’s encounter on the lake kept me on the edge of my kayak’s seat and my heart in my throat and beating fast: would the fledgling escape the territorial adult?
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, Kayaking, TCAN
Posted on September 11, 2016, in ardea herodias, Art, Audubon, 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. 13 Comments.