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You Can’t Catch Me – Daily Prompt: Ha Ha Ha

When last our dragonfly appeared in this blog, she was perched enticingly on the tip of heron’s beak.

Did you wonder if dragonfly became lunch that day?

(Spoiler alert.)

See for yourself. 

 © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)   Dragonfly teasing great blue heron. © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Dragonfly teasing great blue heron.

Is it just me, or did you also hear a dragonfly’s voice sing-songing that childhood playground taunt, “Nah nah nah boo-boo, you can’t catch me?”
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Thanks for the Daily Prompt nudge, Michelle W and WordPress.  
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© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Dragonfly, Humor

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The One that Didn’t Get Away – Weekly Photo Challenge: Curves

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.

She stopped.

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.

Great blue heron landing large pike.

Great blue heron landing large pike.

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.
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Thanks to Sara Rosso at WordPress for the inspiration of this Weekly Photo Challenge!
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 (This took place October 7, 2007)

© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Saturday Poker Game

You’re going to have some explaining to do, Mister! Another long poker session with the boys? You’re a father now!

Heading out first thing that Saturday morning, I was apprehensive that the herons’ nest might have been abandoned, as it had been a few years ago. Our Independence Day holiday was three days earlier. It had been a magical day on the water on the 4th of July, but that night back at home, I cringed in bed listening to hours and hours of fireworks going off from the general direction of the lake. My home is only a block or so away from the southern-most end of the lake, and from the relentless percussion of the booms, it was clear that some private homes were setting fireworks off over the water.

If it sounded that loud to me, what must it have sounded like to the herons? Adult herons frightened by loud noises have been known to abandon nests, and the chicks – how would that sort of boom and blast affect the hearing of chicks that are less than two weeks out of the egg?

So, it was with deep gratitude that, as I rounded the point and the island came into view, I saw the adult female standing guard patiently above the nest. Through the binocs, I could see the two chicks present and accounted for, and sparring with each other – butting bills together in the heron equivalent of lion cubs tussling and rolling each other over. So, three of four herons remained at the nest, the adult and two chicks.

Great blue heron on final approach to the nest.

Great blue heron on final approach to the nest.

And the adult male? Usually, he arrives at the nest around 11am, to relieve the female, but he was late, and getting later.

By 1pm, the female had climbed off the nest, and up a tall branch. She stood at full height for a long, long time, looking in the direction from which her mate usually arrives. The male stayed out on his fishing trip much longer than usual, and finally showed up for the changing of the parental guard around 2:30 pm. 

I’m not sure what goes through a mother heron’s mind, but while she was staring off so expectantly for her long-overdue mate, at one point her body language seemed to say, “You’re going to have some explaining to do, Mister! Another long poker session with the boys? You’re a father now!”
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 (This took place July, 2012)

© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Bodes Well

The mother heron perched on a limb high up in the trees on the shore directly across from the nest, in a horizontal posture that would let her take flight in a heartbeat. She was staring intently at the nest and island and the far shore, watching. I sensed a longing in her stock-still watchfulness…

The day before, I discovered one of our fledglings in a cove midway up the lake, about two miles north of the nest. This is quite an achievement for a heron that had fledged less than three weeks earlier. I’ve observed the fledglings as far as three-quarters of a mile from the nest, but never that far away, and never that far north.

It bodes well for that fledgling’s survival, as the shoreline and fishing there is much more suitable for their foraging. Only a narrow strip of land separates  that cove from the secluded inlet which is the best feeding ground, where I’ve watched the most fledglings grow over the past eight years.

Great blue heron three weeks after fledging the nest.

Great blue heron three weeks after fledging the nest.

The main concern for this one now would be territorial disputes with adult males in the area. Those can be exciting to watch, but can be deadly for the losing bird.

That day,  an adult heron worked the eastern bend in the shoreline, about twenty yards from the chick wading along the northern-most shore. The fledgling was definitely aware of the adult, and watched it for a while before starting to forage. The adult was facing away from the chick, and didn’t seem aware at all.

Eventually, the adult reversed direction, and she noticed the fledgling. I say “she” because a male adult would have become territorially aggressive and attempt to chase off the interloping youngster. Instead, this adult fluffed out it’s neck feathers fully, which can be either a greeting display or a territorial display, depending. There was no ensuing chase scene, and eventually the adult lazily flew to the west end of the cove and the fledgling continued on fishing.

Later on, I paddled down to the nesting island. No fledgling in the nest, I hadn’t seen one there in a week (which doesn’t mean they didn’t stop by at night). Both parents were in the general area, the male was perched on rocks alongside a tunnel, perfectly camouflaged – his grey, black, orange, rust, and white feather colors echoed by the rocks.

The mother heron, however, was perched on a tree limb high up in the woods on the shore directly across from the nest, in a horizontal pose that would let her take flight in an instant. She was staring intently at the nest and island and the far shore, watching. I sensed a longing in her stock-still watchfulness, waitingness. I swear she was watching for her fledglings.

I may be anthropomorphising, but my sense is that she had noticed that the fledgling was missing from the nesting grounds.

The adults sometimes venture there, to the north and the mid-lake area , and the fledgling may return back south, so eventually the herons will find each other again.

Still, I sensed a longing in her stock-still watchfulness, waitingness…
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(This took place September 2, 2012)

© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

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