Sunday, January 08, 2012

The Great Blue Heron Challenge


My Spark Bird is the Great Blue Heron. For years I sought to capture images like this. And today, I could publish an album of my best Great Blue Heron photographs.

I’ve recently had a change of heart.

My love/hate relationship began with this bird when I lived in Maryland. Rinsing dishes, bored, I glanced out back through the window and saw the giant standing on the edge my pond. To see this majestic bird only a few yards away will make most anyone gasp. The bird is stunning but not so stunning that I was unable to chase the son of a bitch out of the yard yelling and cursing all the way. That particular heron cleaned the goldfish from the Maryland pond three times.

“Get your fat bird ass out of here and break a leg, will ya?”

Great Blue Heron sat on my neighbor’s rooftop and laughed at me.

Smaller herons visited my Delaware pond but weren’t successful there. The owl decoy and aluminum pie plates clacking in the wind kept them away.

Here in North Carolina, I've raised six Koi since 2005. They grew from four to thirteen inches and probably now weigh a little more than two pounds each. A good friend described them as puppy dogs and she’s right. Always pleased to see me, wiggling in delight, I talk to them every day, even when they are stunned, cold, and lay at the bottom of the pond in the dead of winter. In six years, there have been no perpetrators until last Sunday.


The perp found us. Did I freak out? You betcha. But I did race for my camera to get this snapshot from inside the house before I ran out there and raised all kinds of hell. They’re so tall, lanky, and uncoordinated it’s laughable to watch them try to exit quickly. They really need a slow gallop on a runway for a few seconds before lift-off.

For me, it’s been hell week, and also for my neighbor who lost all of the Koi in his small water feature.


My husband sprang into action and created a tactical combat zone for the cocky, arrogant Great Blue Heron who sat on the hill with a yellow eye on us, waiting for the coast to clear.

Great Blue Heron did not care about decoys or scarecrows.

He did not care about dense fishing lines stretched across the pond surface.

He probably wondered why humans think he’d mind stupid shiny pie plates.

He fished day and night, all week. I was very surprised to see him at the pond at 10pm and fly away into darkness.

Herons have to eat and I have a heron feeder in my back yard. I shouldn’t be so angry and wish to throw rocks.

Casualties are one smaller Koi taken away, two large goldfish swallowed, and one large Koi was cut and froze to death on the grassy outside edge of the pond because Heron had a problem. He’s unable to stuff a foot-long two-pounder down his throat. So instead, he tortured all of the Koi with jabs and scrapes and flung them around and out of the pond water for me to find.

My frustration grew and my heart was breaking.

I cried.


On Wednesday I came home from work to find this fat fella had been tossed. I brought a bag to carry him away but what I didn’t realize was that he was looking at me! I lifted him and saw him struggle to breathe so I quickly and gently lowered him into the water where he floated for an hour. I thought him dead and netted him but he would not have it! His mouth opened wide as if to scream, he struggled to be free of the net, and I joyously put him back where he belonged. He swam low, nudged his three pond mates, and I smiled.


Today, the Courageous Four are safely tucked in with a blanket pond net.

While I cried on that awful Wednesday afternoon I heard them. They landed not far from where I stood and have been back every day for their helping of Zick dough.

Three couples!



Banded lady!



Bluebirds of Happiness. My sunshine on a gloomy day.

Damn you, Great Blue Heron.