Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Late last year, while walking Biscuit, I noticed some unfamiliar young men who had stopped on the path and were intently watching something across the street. As I approached them they assumed an attitude and gave me a look which suggested that they might be up to no good, so I greeted them and asked them what they were watching so intently. Their answer surprised me: they were watching what they thought was a big bird in a neighbor’s yard. They pointed, and I looked: indeed, there seemed to be a Great Blue Heron off in the distance. At this point, I started to laugh: the “great blue heron” was in fact a statue of a heron placed by a pond to frighten off the real thing – heron predation in local fish ponds is becoming an issue for some of us. When I told them we all had a good laugh about it. But I’m still amazed at the acuity of their eye sight: I had walked by that spot hundreds of times and looked over in the direction of the fake heron and never noticed it. Since I had been in that garden and seen the fake heron close up, I knew it was there. But how in the world did those young men notice it from such a distance?

Last week Biscuit and I were returning from our walk and as we approached a house near the site of the fake heron I thought I heard a rustling sound. Thinking it might be a deer emerging from the woods, I looked over in the direction where I’ve seen deer leave the woods. There were no deer in sight. Was the sound from a neighbor moving around the side of the nearby house? No, there were no people in sight either. Then I looked down at Biscuit to see what she thought. She was not looking at the house or the woods, she was looking up. So I looked up. There, sitting on the chimney of the house, was a Great Blue Heron. It was probably warming itself in the heat coming from the chimney. To see it sitting on a chimney reminded me of storks in Europe. The bird remained calm while we were there, and after we resumed our walk, the bird remained as long as I could still see it.

As I was leaving the house yesterday, a neighbor called over to me “Jim, a crane just flew into your back yard”. Right away I knew what kind of “crane” it was; I went back to take a look and got there just in time to see a Great Blue Heron  flapping off to a new roost.  

There is no sign of gold fish in my pond: presumably the herons have had many a good meal. It’s time to restock!

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