Monday, October 12, 2009

Ardea herodias

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

It was such a gift to be able to observe this adult Great Blue Heron fishing beneath the falls at a nearby dam along the Charles River. The water was low and the exposed rocks, home to many aquatic creatures, offered excellent fishing. In this photograph the bird was moving to another vantage point where he remained for about 30 minutes.

I believe I know this particular heron. He is unusually calm around people because he became accustomed to seeing them at a young age. As an immature and inexperienced yearling he used to hang around the dam, fishing at the far end where the Girl and her flock of Canda Geese liked to rest (see postings from January 2009). I've also seen him downriver, not far from the dam. Even kayakers paddling nearby do not break his concentration; he remains transfixed on whatever fish he has in his sights and ignores the sounds of barking dogs and lawnmowers with the same nonchalance.

Fortunately, I mostly see him in quiet settings, and I always feel privileged to be able to admire his magnificent plumage and observe his studied, patient gaze as he waits for just the right moment to spear a fish swimming toward him in the shallows and then swallow it whole.

On average, Great Blue Herons live 15-17 years in the wild, but some can live into their twenties. I hope this fellow enjoys a long life.

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