Thursday, March 02, 2006
Great Blue Herons, Batman!
This morning I walked with Yuki down the winding footpath past the high school to the gully where the oak trees grow. I always think of Ireland here, and though I've never been to Ireland, I imagine it is like this place: green, moist, and thick with moss. There's a shed with a rusty tin roof here, and a stand of curvy oak trees with a narrow stream of water flowing through.
From the gully, I look up into the tall pines across the road, high up to the nest of the Great Blue Herons. Yesterday, one of the adult herons flew over my head towards the nest with what looked like a giant stick in between her beak. Then I watched as she inserted her long beak into the beak of the baby heron in the nest and shook the stick-like thing into the baby's long throat. The stick might have been a snake or a fish that just looked like a stick.
Today I heard the heron's call, raspy and low. According to my Golden guide to Birds of North America, what I heard was the alarm call, "a series of about 4 hoarse squawks" (p. 94 in my 1966 edition). That's exactly what I heard. Here's the heron page from A Guide to Field Identification: Birds of North America (p. 95) and my photo (sans telephoto lens) of the adult heron I saw today.