Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Great Blue Heron

Today was the dreaded first day back to work after a two-week break. It was very fast-paced at the office and I was wishing I could take an afternoon nap. I have a new director to support now and this will take a lot of my time to get him up-to-speed on administrative details. This situation might be the subject of another post!

There were no post ideas in my brain all day until I was on my way home and driving the single lane into my neighborhood, looking to the right at the first natural pond (like I always do) and hit the breaks very hard and fast. Out loud I said, "Oh boy. A heron." Quickly, I remembered it's Susan's birthday, too. The GBH is her totem bird, out there, staring at me! I turned my wheels onto the easement to let other cars go by and hopped out to grab my camera from the back seat.

This bird was quite a distance away and the western sun brightened him very well. Click on the photos to enlarge them. Maybe you'll see his eyes (staring at me).

On a previous post, I think I briefly mentioned my love-hate relationship with these birds, who, I think at first glance, look like hairy mammals instead of feathery water birds. Being a pond keeper for several years, I have met with this brazen and stubborn stinker a few times. The first time my eyes made contact with this bird was through my kitchen window in Maryland. Was he almost my height? Seemed like it... He just stood there on the side of my pond which was only about twenty feet away from the window and gave me a motionless, one-eyed stare. Every time I saw him perched and waiting to feast on my fish I was stunned at the beauty of this magnificent bird. "Chloe, come! Get it!" And out she would speed like a black and white blur...but I was too late with my command. The bird was so large that he needed a running start to get off the ground and it was comical to watch his long limbs and wing span working hard to get himself off the ground like large aircraft on a runway. He would sit on rooftops nearby and wait for me to leave while I mumbled warnings and obscenities to the poor thing. On one occasion I hurled a baseball at him while he fled. Bad aim. I'm glad I didn't keep Koi in Maryland because he would have eaten hundreds of dollars out of the pond.

In Delaware, I had a smaller heron visit during deep freezes. There were Koi in my pond then and I went to a lot of trouble to distract him. I strung a few aluminum pie plates around the pond to create a clapping noise and light reflections. Not too attractive, but I was desperate. Also, I used my owl decoy but I think herons are wise to them. There were no thefts in Delaware.

Today, I'm living a quarter mile from this bird pictured above and it makes me nervous. There are plenty of stocked ponds in the area for him to snack on so I don't think he'll visit my small pond unless we have a deep freeze. The bird is a stinker, I'll tell you! But a real beauty.


I was energized after this sighting and spent some time outside with Chloe, Bella and Mr. Biggins. Tonight, I made a decision that we will NEVER use black mulch in our gardens again. We had a few inches of rain over the weekend and this is what happens when your dogs play in the yard. Footprints. Not only outside, but inside as well. I'm not all that fussy about things but I try to keep a clean house. So look at this,

Stamped concrete, doggie-style. Inside, there is a stamped bedspread and carpets to match!

Nala is active and doing well at the vet. No bowel movement and no needle yet.

Ahem. Was this a Great Blue Heron? If not, I'll dig a hole and bury myself.


Anonymous said...

I am not going to comment the the bird i.d., as I am far from an expert. Please don't carry out your threat if corrected by a birding blogger. I would miss some good laughs when reading your posts. Glad you keep the camera handy. I actually saw your big moon tonight, but my photo was blurry :(

Jess Riley said...

Thanks for the mulching advice! I will be doing lots of gardening this spring and will duly note this one. ;)

Susan Gets Native said...

Mary, you make me laugh like a fool.
1. Thank you for the photos and post. You rock.
2. Yes, dear, that is a great blue heron. They are quite lovely in the winter, but in the spring and summer, they are piercingly blue.
3. If I had a pond, I would avoid the pricey koi and stock it with big ugly fish so that herons would come and hang out. But I'm a bird nut, so my strange behavior wouldn't be too bad.
4. If you swerve off the road to get a picture of a bird, you have arrived at "birder" status. Congratulations!
Hey, guys! We got another one!!!!

LauraHinNJ said...

Happily, as Susan said, there is no need to grab a shovel and bury yourself.

Glad you survived your first day back at work. Isn't it a drag?

Anonymous said...

LOL Mary! What a great story! I also had some ID issues with a Great Blue Heron back in June in Hilton Head. They are very imposing, large birds for sure!

Mary said...

Jayne - I read about your ID issues - laughed out loud!

Anonymous said...

Stop talking about work!!! :) I still have the rest of the week (I had to work right up to the 21st so don't feel bad!) I'm not QUITE to where I'm looking forward to going back but I can feel it coming on!

Loved your GBH pics. I would totally stock a pond for them! They are SO cool. My totem bird is the Egret (Great, Snowy, whatever!). I love them and so the GBH is like a long-lost cousin to me!

Happy Birthday Susan!

Anonymous said...


How is Nala did she pass the needle yet? I am enjoying your writing. Thanks! -- Lizard

Mary said...


Nala went under the knife this afternoon and is probably sleeping off the anesthetic. The needle was lodged in her liver. Gina is back from Texas and is relieved knowing Nala will be OK and she qualified for "Care Credit" to pay for this operation. The vet saved the $1,000 needle for Gina.

Anonymous said...

Mary - LOL!! Even if it wasn't a GBH please don't go burying yourself over a bird!
I'm glad Nala will be okay! Yay!