Tuesday, July 23, 2013

June 2013: The Quiet Dignity of a Heron's Croaking

There is nothing quite like the majesty of the great blue heron framed by the blue sky as it perches high on a tree. A heron catches fish by wading into the water. It makes no noise. Its thin legs leave no wake. Poised in the water herons define the silence of still water

Until you get too close

This June, perhaps because the water level kept rising so quickly, I invariably flushed herons out of trees as I paddled around South Bay. Thank Windows Movie Maker for the weird effect when I extracted that still out of the video clip. I prize the video clip below because the heron didn’t start croaking when it flew off, as they usually do. It stayed rooted to the tree as it dressed me down, which made me a little nervous. Didn’t a heron once try to stab John James Audubon?

The river rose because we had more rain than usual in June and that flooded the old ponds in the interior of the island that the beavers had abandoned years ago. I can’t shake the habit of retracing the old route through the swamps which once led me to upwards of 20 beavers, but those days ended several years ago. This June I didn’t see any beavers. I saw at least two, sometimes three herons working the shallows of the abandoned ponds.

I am proud of my old eyes for zeroing in on that heron wading in a sea of grass.

In the video clip below, where I got those two stills, I first disturbed a heron in the Big Pond as I walked behind the remnants of the dam. Foraging must have been productive in the shallows because it circled the pond and perched atop a nearby tree. Then I walked down the south shore of the old Second Swamp Pond. I must say that framed by the grasses the heron's neck seemed to move in a strange gullet first manner.

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