June 16, 2017
Having Lunch With A Great Blue Heron

Today I was blessed with having lunch with a great blue heron.

It was a rainy morning and I felt like I hadn’t been out of the house in 3 days and then this afternoon the sun dissolved the clouds along with the help of a brisk wind and I could see blue skies.

Dropping housework (which I’m never keen to do anyway), the garden, my writing and anything else I was avoiding I headed out the door.

It was a perfect day to take lunch to the beach so hopped in my car and headed out.

I ended up at Esquimalt Lagoon and watched the cruise ships head into the Victoria Harbour on the ocean side.

I avoid downtown Victoria at this time of year as although I know that tourism is great for business I figure I can wait until fall when the city goes back to locals.

On the lagoon side, there was a group of children (grade 2-3) and their teachers walking the beach.

I gather from what the kids were doing and their remarks that they were on a treasure hunt. They had to pick up so many feathers, so many rocks, shells etc… and they were having a wonderful time.

I went and sat on a log with my lunch and camera and I could see a heron not far away. He flew off when the class went by and then returned again after they had left. He’s found a good fishing hole.

I ate my lunch while he hunted and gathered his. At times he came so close to me that I could only get portrait shots of his head as I couldn’t get my camera far enough away.

 portrait of a great blue heron

One day I will take a video to share with you, as they are so interesting to watch.

The wind was picking up and the water was getting choppy, so it wasn’t just a matter of looking straight down into the water.

He would put his head almost sideways in order to see through the waves and the glare of the sun on the water.

the heron turns its head sideways in order to see through the water

Herons are the most patient of birds and can stand for long periods of time in one spot. I know this because after holding up my camera for 15 minutes waiting for the next fish, the muscles in my arms got sore and I’m wishing I had brought a tripod.

Then… with a flash, he zeros in on something in the water. It’s like when you see a compass point due north. His head swings around and like a pointer and stares at one spot.

reflection of a great blue heron

The next thing that happens is that his head dives into the water, the bum goes up in the air and out he comes with a pipefish. He got something every time he put his head under. As the saying goes… practice makes perfect.

bottoms up

The wind was blowing harder so I gathered up my lunch to stop it from being blown away. I could also see that the long feathers on the crest plumage of the heron were sticking out at the right angle to the head but he kept fishing.

crest feathers blowing in the wind

The next time his head snapped to attention and his head went under he came up with a shiner perch. Shortly after he dropped it and grabbed it before it hit the water.

heron with shiner perch

I didn’t realise until I downloaded my pictures that he had actually stabbed the fish with his bill and needed to let go of it in order to be able to eat it.

impaled fish on heron's beak

Shaking after eating the fish he preened for a minute or two.

heron shaking after catching a fish

And in the next moment… he was gone. Lunch was over and time for a well earned rest.

heron taking off

The heron was so close that I couldn’t fit him all in the picture as he took off.

As I headed back to the car I gave thanks for allowing me to experience this wonderful bird up close and personal.

It was a good day birding.