Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Heron's Dinner

WE had just walked onto the bridge to watch the sliders (turtles), which are rather a common sight at this spot, when we saw a bird we hadn't seen before. It was a wading bird; I thought perhaps a heron but it was small - no larger than 12-18" tall. Naturally we had neither camera nor binoculars on hand, so instead had to stay very still and try to creep a little closer for a better look. Emma and I took it in turns to observe the bird's features out loud. Long beak, grey back, reddish chest and throat, yellow ring around the eye, long yellow legs. It was remarkably well camouflaged among the reeds and dead trees. When it extended its neck, it was definitely a heron. We watched it for a good fifteen minutes. When we first saw it, I could have sworn it was eating a mouse. Something very mouse tail-like was hanging out of its beak, then it gulped and a lump was visible all the way down its neck, like a snake eating something large. After poking about in the shallows, it was stalking something in the water we couldn't see. Then the bird made its move, and we saw what it was after! A water snake. Later I looked it up. It was a green heron, and yes, they do eat rodents. Who knew?

Photo credit to Barbara Simpson

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