Herons

Great blue heron preens on island just of boardwalk in Explore the Wild.
Great blue heron preens on island just off boardwalk in Explore the Wild.

Typically, we have one great blue heron in our wetlands. Recently a second has shown up. Yesterday, I saw three gbh’s. Today (11/28), there were four.

do all these herons want? Fish, tadpoles, crawfish, and whatever else they can catch that’ll fit down their long throats.

A large concentration of golden shiners pressed up against the bank of the open water of our wetlands.
A large concentration of golden shiners pressed up against the bank of the open water of our wetlands.
A closer look at the fish, packed in like sardines.
A closer look at the fish, packed in like sardines.

The fish were packed in tight up against the shoreline of the wetlands at the foot of the Main Wetlands Overlook. It has been very busy lately, people wise, and¬†this area has been extremely popular with visitors. The herons want to get over to the fish but are reluctant to do so with the many humans occupying the platform. There’s little for them to do but sit and wait till closing time before assaulting the mass of minnows.

Resting while waiting for a shot at the shiners.
Resting while waiting for a shot at the shiners.
Thirty feet or so from the feast of fish, our resident heron watches the passing of humans.
Thirty feet or so from the feast of fish, our resident heron watches the passing of humans.
Patience is the key.
Patience is the key.

Meanwhile…have you ever had a look at heron feet?

The long legs and feet of a great blue heron.
The long legs and feet of a great blue heron.
Closer look at the toes.
Closer look at the toes.
One of the "outsider" herons which flew in during the afternoon.
One of the “outsider” herons which flew in during the afternoon.
Another gbh sits and waits.
Another gbh sits and waits.

At one point one of the herons tried to sneak through the willow tangle next to the overlook.

Creeping in for a meal.
Creeping in for a meal.
Peeking over at the abundant fish waiting to be eatten.
Peeking over at the abundant fish just waiting to be eaten.

I’m sure the herons had a good feast after we humans departed at closing time.

2 responses to Herons

  1. Avatar
    Richard Stickney says:

    Why do you suppose all those fish are packed in like that?

    • Greg Dodge
      Greg Dodge says:

      I believe the fish were herded into the corner by the dozen and more mergansers we have swimming about the Wetlands. The fish instinctually travel in schools in trying to avoid being eaten. The mergansers, in pursuing the fish, cause them to concentrate even more among any hiding area they can find, like the smartweed at the base of the Main Wetlands Overlook.
      There are other areas of the Wetlands that the fish congregate. If you watch the mergansers you may see them dive in certain areas more than others, at the end of one of the islands, below certain willow trees, or in the smartweed. These are areas where the fish have concentrated, among the roots of the willows or in the smartweed, for protection from the predators. However, concentrating in those places actually makes them more vulnerable to the mergansers and herons that seek them.

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