Yesterday I posted a teaser, for which I apologize. I'm no fan of cliff-hangers. I want resolution now, I don't want to carry it around for a week, something conditioned by those one-hour CSI, Law&Order, and Desperate Housewives shows. That said, I'm glad you're back to see how the Great Blue Heron went from "I'd like a fish" to "I got one!"
Heron sightings are abundant this spring in Sapsucker Woods, you only need to look at the nest they built to find one. During, or shortly after, their nest construction I found one perched on a downed log near the middle of the pond. Hoping to photograph the bird in flight, maybe delivering a stick back to the nest, I set up the camera and waited. I didn't catch a return to the nest sequence, but watch the embedded slideshow below (man, I hope this works) to watch what I captured. You can also visit the web album to view the (larger) still images.
If that worked, you will have witnessed a couple of events I found interesting. First, I won the staring contest. You can see in the first slide the intense glaring I received for about a half-minute, and then the moment of victory (second slide) when the bird was distracted by something in the water. But I had no time to savor the moment.
The second event relates to heron foraging behavior. As Great Blues are fairly common almost anywhere there's water, and they are such large, easily observable birds, I'm guessing most everyone has watched one snag a prey item at one point or another. If I'm right, you're familiar with the methodical stalking as they patiently step their way through the water or across a field, leaning forward as they sight a fish, amphibian, reptile, mammal, bird - they're really not that picky.
The actual capture takes but a second. A rapid thrust of the neck and head, and voila! Before you can blink they've got something tightly squeezed between their mandibles.
What I've never seen was a heron jump in the water from dry land, or floating log, after something, and almost fully submerge below the surface. But this one did, and, best of all, it came up with a snack. I particularly like the image of the bird returning its gaze towards me with the, "That's right, homeclown, I got the fish!"
It's always satisfying to witness a successful hunt, the food web in action, especially when it includes a new method of food capture. At least, this was a new method to me, perhaps you've seen this before?
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