When the great blue heron resurfaced, her prize catch struggled mightily, the curve of its back straining left then right, scales and fins glistening.
The man in the hip waders put finger to his lips in the universal gesture of “ssssshhhh.”
I rounded the peninsula with smooth feathered strokes, and gave him wide berth. His casting looked slow and measured, with a little flourish as the fly arced out over the lake.
Fish were jumping that day, but not for him.
The green folding boat 20 yards away was having little better luck at fishing.
Across the lake, the tall wading bird plied the shore leisurely, biding her time.
Soon the flycaster in the silly hat would give up.
Soon the green boat would motor back through the channel to the lower lake.
Soon the cove would be hers.
Soon the fish that got away from Men, would be hers.
We waited together, she and I.
I let her take the lead, and soon enough she did.
Taking long purposeful strides, she passed the turtles lazing on the log, and parted the reeds.
Up and over the half-submerged pine trunk she climbed, all the while stalking something beneath the surface.
For more than 5 minutes she stood stock still in water up to her hips. She stared just offshore with an unceasing focus.
The only movement was a slight tilt to her head, first to the left, and then an almost imperceptible extending of her neck, up up higher higher until she was staring straight down.
Whoosh, as arrow beak pierced the surface, and her body lunged fully beneath the surface, energy exploding into water. Massive blue-grey wings half-unfurled broke the surface, rippling body muscles straining between wings and water.
How long she was under, I cannot say, I lost track of time, but when she resurfaced, her prize catch struggled mightily, the curve of its back straining left then right, scales and fins glistening. It was an epic fight.
And when she struggled to shore under the weight of her prey, I’m not sure whose eyes held more surprise — mine, hers, or the one that didn’t get away.
Thanks to Sara Rosso at WordPress for the inspiration of this Weekly Photo Challenge!
(This took place October 7, 2007)
© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)
Without warning, the juvenile great blue heron – peaceably fishing the north shore of the cove only moments before – straightened up to his full height. Then it dawned on me that his body posture had become suddenly “watchful.”
I followed his gaze down the cove, and there was the older adult male aggressively cruising full-speed straight at us.
The juvenile was riveted, almost cowering at the sight of the large adult. I took one last photo before he hopped-flew across the inlet to the south shore.
The adult swooped very low, gradually circled, and landed thirty yards away. He immediately fluffed up his back plumes, puffed up his breast, and strutted off in the direction of the younger bird. After a few yards of strutting, he broke into a full run and ran down the shore after the juvenile.
When the adult had closed the distance between them to less than 10 feet, the juvenile launched himself upwards and disappeared down the inlet.
The adult relaxed his ruffled feathers and lingered along the shore, fishing, his territory in the cove protected once again.
This was back in 2007, but the memory is as vivid as if it was just last week: it was the first time I’d seen a heron’s territorial display up close and personal. On that day, I managed a couple of photos of the adult’s feathers in display, but then the CF card filled up, and all I could do then was watch in silent wonder.
So, there are no shots of the close encounter between the juvenile and the adult for that patricular day. It was such a spectacle that I didn’t care about the camera.
And as I’ve said before, it is a choice to be present IN the moment, instead of focusing on the technology of recreating that moment for the future. In this instance, a full camera card brought me back to that lesson in mindfulness.
August 18, 2007
© 2007-2013 Babsje. (Http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)