Sunday, August 03, 2008

Heron Overload

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That grocery store pond is always calling me…

The water level is very low. Great for waders!

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Great Blue Herons keep distance between us.

A dear Environmental Science teacher in Maryland kept those fancy, chubby goldfish in a classroom aquarium - you know, the ones with the bulging eyes and fleshy growths on them. They have no ability to swim away from danger. They chug along, taking a few seconds to make a u-turn. They're so unlike wild, darting Comets. One June, he asked me to add them to my pond. I warned him, “John, I have a heron…”. John was delighted to make the contribution, if you know what I mean. I agreed and added them slowly and gently to the pond whilst out of the corner of my ever vigilant eye, I saw the “Stinker” watching my business from the rooftop of a neighbor’s house. This particular heron had me penciled in for a stop on his lunch route every day. I ran toward him waving a broom but he remained unruffled.


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A day later, those poor, obese goldies met their maker, along with the rest of the goldfish I kept. It’s frustrating to come face to face with a bird almost as tall as I am, looks like he should be covered in fur instead of feathers, and who outsmarted me so many times. Looking through my kitchen window, our eyes would meet and before I could call Chloe and race to the door, he’d already be in that awkward looking take-off mode down the back, looking hilariously ridiculous. Once, before he was in flight, I hurled a baseball but missed by several yards. Chloe was near his tail. I didn’t want to hurt him. I only wanted to scare the heron crap out of him.

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In Delaware I kept Koi for the first time and they grew from four to twelve inches in the three years we lived there. Herons visited during severely cold winters when the nearby river banks and natural ponds would freeze. The heater in my pond kept the waterfall moving and large parts of the pond unfrozen. Herons never ate there but showed enough interest, even when the fish rested on the bottom of the pond during winter hibernation. Pond nets were a nuisance and owl decoys didn’t matter. The most successful deterrent, after all, were aluminum pie plates I strung around the pond area. Seven or eight of them clacked together and made enough sound and sunlight glare to scare hungry birds away.


To date, no visitors in my North Carolina backyard!
I probably just jinxed myself.

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Now I’m getting to know little Green Herons.

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I watched a young one investigate an old tree limb and the water beneath it.


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Nice dragonfly, nice job!


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Mom flew in to give warning to the young one a few times but always returned to her own perch, half-way across the pond.


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Here she is. Ms. No Neck.


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Look what happens when she’s in an alert mode. Where does she keep her neck?


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UP, PERISCOPE!

36 comments:

Cheryl said...

Hi Mary......up periscope...that was so funny....I am still smiling now....

We have ponds either side of our property full of fish.....the heron is a regular visitor.....I think he does the owners a favour in this instance, as the ponds are a bit too full of fish......

I think the green heron is lovely, beautiful colours....great birds, I like them....

NCmountainwoman said...

Oh, Mary. There's no such thing as "Heron Overload." What great shots of these magnificent birds.

Once again, you hit one out of the park!

Ruth said...

I just wrote a post on the same birds. Our water levels are so high the birds have moved to different spots that last year. Great pictures of the Green Heron.

Jayne said...

LOL Mary! Great shots of the "stinkers" you got there!

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Hi Mary! This was very funny. The green heron is beautiful. Lisa

possumlady said...

Gorgeous photos as always Mary! I've stopped trying to get any wildlife photos with my little Easyshare. I'm trying to get up the nerve to upgrade to your level easyshare but just can't get myself to spend the money. Maybe if I keep telling myself it is for the good of my blog!

Lynne said...

Great post May! I've never seen a green heron extend their neck that far. I didn't know they could do it!!

nikkipolani said...

I'm loving the little stories you weave with your photos, Mary.

Red said...

Hi Mary... I got a lot of laughs from your post today. Thanks :D

Funny little Green Herons... enjoy them! Thanks for sharing.

Kerri said...

Never Never overloaded on Herons! I love them all! I hate grocery shopping...but if I had Herons like that near my grocery store...I'd go every day! Fabulous post once again Mary!

Debbie said...

Fantastic shots, Mary.

We see many Great Blues up here, but I'm not sure I've ever seen a Green Heron before...quite lovely.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Ooh, did the green heron eat the dragonfly, or drop it on the surface of the water? Generally, bait-fishing involves dropping crumbs, a feather, a small twig, or even fish food (at hatcheries) on the water's surface and then coiling to strike. A heron will carry a particularly good bit of bait from pool to pool (an important indicator of whether it values the item as a tool, and an indication that it plans ahead to use it). Tell me true! Did he eat it or drop it?

egretsnest said...

Very cool. I don't think you od on herons. I've never kept koi but I did talk to someone who had a HUGE pond of koi and he said the secret to keeping them is to make the pond deep enough with ledges way down deep so that they can hide from the predator. He told me a number - as if I'd remember it now. Sigh. Anyway, that's all I know about that! :)

LauraHinNJ said...

I love green herons, but don't get to see them nearly enough. They seem to like small quiet ponds.

Anyway... I don't have heron problems at my backyard pond either (hope I didn't jinx myself) - there is a kingfisher in the neighborhood, tho)

;-)

JeanMac said...

So funny,Mary.

beckie said...

Loved seeing the wonderful pictures. We don't get the green herons-very pretty. Under those feathers are several double chins...that's how she can stretch that neck out so far.:) I'll bet Chloe has a ball chasing after the heron, and you throwing a baseball-funny!

Mary said...

Julie, darn I was too far away to tell if the dragonfly was eaten or not. I'll pay attention next time - maybe I'll be closer and have a better view.

nina said...

I'd be shopping pretty often, too, if that pond was along the way.
I wonder if the herons are used to people for that reason?
I can never even get close enough to get a FUZZY picture.
Yours are great!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Oh Mary, your heron pictures are great. You are so lucky to be able to see them so close and often.

Naturegirl said...

Mary I want to thank you for leaving such sweet words on my last post!

Your photos are incredible!! The second and third with the reflections in the water are worthy of framing Mary!! I know I know you'd probably throw your baseball at it..seeing you have no fond feelings towards this heron..whom I never see so I rather like seeing his image!

Always a good chuckle with your sense of humor when I come by.
Keep smiling ..hugs and smiles aNNa

KGMom said...

Cool pics of herons--add my voice to the chorus of your admirers.
We have a friend who had a pond with many fish--and would warn neighbors of approaching herons. One day, a heron swooped in, my friend couldn't get out to the pond in time. NO FISH anywhere.
Next day, when she went out--there were all her fish. Seems the fish also saw the heron approach, and dived into the mud on the bottom of the pond.

Rose said...

No herons here in the middle of corn and soybean seas, so this was a real treat, Mary!
Perhaps there's a little slinky in the heron's neck...:)

Annie in Austin said...

While on pond tours here we've seen translucent fabric sails slung over ponds to keep the herons from landing and getting the fish... but it must be wonderful to see those birds up close.

Great photos, as always, Mary and the stretchy necked green heron is fun. But she's not going to like the one with her rump in the air!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Crayons said...

I really enjoyed this post. The great blue heron is my dear dad's totem. It was the first bird we saw after he passed. So they are majestic and magical to me.

Those green ones are brilliant. I'd never seen one before. The color is like something out of the tropics.

PS: Thanks for your comment on my "Garlic Farm" post. I thought of you when I made the comment about office work.

Q said...

Dear Mary,
Oh my goodness!!!! Green Heron is beautiful....I want to see one too..
Wow...
Wonderful photography.
Did you get a new camera????
I am so impressed...
WOW!
Sherry

Corey said...

Go go Gadget Neck!

I got an up-close-and-personal moment with a Green Heron this morning too . . how oddly parallel!

Awesome photos as usual.

Susan Gets Native said...

Mary's new Native American name:
"She Who Stalks Herons".

Pete said...

lovely composition on the second one Mary

Balisha said...

Hi Mary,
I haven't read your blog for very long...so I don't know if this pone is right in your backyard or elsewhere. Lucky you to be able to watch such antics. Love your commentary..you have a natural wit.

Mary said...

Balisha,

Thank you. I'd love to have a natural pond as beautiful as this one in my backyard. I do have a man-made pond that's pretty and very much alive, however. Sometimes I need to drive down the road to see the real thing.

Mary

Peg Silloway said...

Mary, reading your blog is like a mini-vacation every time. Not only do you capture the images beautifully, but you convey the emotion. Your herons may be voracious fish feeders, but you make them look like a lazy summer afternoon. Thanks, as always.

dguzman said...

Oh Mary, those pics are fantastic! We have a few green herons on the marsh; I love them.

There's a big fish hatchery near here where herons and osprey pretty much eat their fill every day. I love watching them, but I've never managed to get there with my camera.

Wren said...

The heron isn't the only one who's green: I've been trying to get just one good photo of a green heron for two years.

Yours are loveley - thanks for letting me photograph vicariously.

Kathiesbirds said...

Mary, this is an excellent post! I have often wondered the same thing about the heron's neck! You crack me up! Hey, I am hosting "I and the Bird" for August 21st(see anouncement on my blog). Do you have a bird post you would like to contibute? Just send me the link. I'd love to have you particiapte. In fact, this post would be perfect! Can I use it? Or would you rather write something new? Email me and let me know!

RuthieJ said...

Lucky you.....adult AND juvenile green herons! And you got good pictures of them too. Thanks Mare.

Larry said...

Wow mary-what great green heron Photos you have-and you're very funny! I came across your blog on I and the bird.-I'm not sure I've ever seen your blog before-but it's very good!