Blue Herons

During our recent visit to southern US, we saw quite a few great blue herons, as ubiquitous as are grey herons in the UK.

These American birds are among the largest herons, being twice as large as a great egret, and larger than the European grey heron.

We were also fortunate this little blue heron stood just by us at Brazos Bend Texas State Park. This is only relatively little, being still of a medium size, similar to a nearby ibis.

Note the blue dominance of the beak, compared to the yellow in that of the great blue.

Apparently, the little blue is white during its first year. Maybe there were more around than I thought!

 

The usurpers

Next day, a grey heron was surveying his territory when we first looked out onto the River Dordogne over breakfast. He stood stock still, upright, as if checking out what was going on around.
Then he would begin to stalk fish, creeping like a cat after mice (featured image). Then the sudden pounce, and fish swallowed in a trice.

Later in the morning he’d gone, replaced by a couple of wading men, fly fishing. The predator who has usurped nature’s king beasts at the top of this and almost every food chain. No birds to be seen,  all driven away by the intrusion. 

Clearly, fly fishing is a skilled occupation and gets you into the heart of nature, an image spoiled for me on seeing a fag hanging from the lips of one of the fishermen. 

And they did appear to throw back any fish caught – surely a minor form of fish torture.
Late afternoon the fishermen had gone. The wagtails returned, feasting on flying insects, a flock of goldfinches swarmed into bushes and onto rocks. The heron returned and resumed fishing.

Then we were supremely privileged by a rare royal visitor. A kingfisher appeared in trees on the opposite bank, then came down to a rock within camera range. He stood still, iridescent, intent. Then a sudden flash into the water, another fish swiftly swallowed. Then back on the rock, to repeat the process. Some days you are just blessed.

In a world overrun with humans shouldn’t we be giving back more of these still semi-wild places to their natural predators, while we still can?