After 2 years of not seeing the Heron, he or she (it) has finally returned to give me a hard time. Of course, it has no idea that it is causing me to stress out as I envision the damage it could do to my fish population. On the other hand, it is such a beautiful bird that I have to admire its tenacity as it returns several times a day in the hope that either myself or the dogs are not awake and watchful. I have to say that I no longer get that adrenaline rush of fear when it flies in as I used to. Maybe I have come to accept it or maybe I am confident that my electric fences will do the trick. Or maybe I am just enjoying the contest as we try to outsmart each other.
It all started a little over ten days ago as I was sitting and working in front of the window as I like to do. I saw this movement, you could hardly call it a flash as Herons are not exactly very quick and when I looked up, the Heron was perched on top of the shed roof as bold as you like.
One of the dogs spotted it from inside the house and next thing four dachshunds and the big ole mutt dog were scrambling out through the doggie door all trying to get out at the same time barking and kicking up an infernal racket as they pushed each other to get through first. The Heron took one look and immediately bent its knees and sprang up in up in the air as they do to take off and was gone.
They really are an enormous bird when they have their wings extended. When they are perched, they don’t look that impressive but when they fly, they are huge. I bet the wingspan on this particular bird is probably 5-6 feet. I thought it had gone but they are very crafty and sometimes return almost immediately to catch us off guard which is exactly what this one did. Luckily, the dogs were all riled up and they drove it off with their noisy barking.
The Heron’s re-appearance has kind of upset the schedule in my house. I am one of those that never usually goes
to bed until midnight and sometimes later than that. Conversely, I never usually get up until 9:00 am unless I have an appointment which if I have any control over, never get made for first thing. I use the “don’t want to fight the traffic” as an excuse but the reality is that I am not an early riser even when I was a working person.
I remember that when I lived in England many years ago, I got a job working for the Post Office as a mail delivery person, OK, postman. That job was considered a plum job back then as it had benefits and sick pay, something that not too many companies provided over there. The job required that I get up at 4:30 am to clock in at 6:00 am. Needless to say, I quit after two weeks and went back to the 9:00 to 5:00 schedule. Like I said, I am not a morning person and to hell with the benefits. Besides I was only a little over 20 and neither my brain or my body could envision getting up this early for the rest of my working life.
Back to the Heron story. I found another use for my I-Phone as it has a very good alarm. Nice and loud, more so than my alarm clock so I set it for 7:00 o’clock when it was just starting to get light. I wanted to be ready if and when the Heron showed up and sure enough, as I watched it parked up in the tree and surveyed the scene. This time, it got a little bolder as it didn’t fly away when the dogs barked at it but instead just sat there. I was able to get a couple of shots before it finally flew away when I came out. It came back three times through the course of that day. On one of those occasions, it didn’t fly off when I approached and I was able to stand almost directly beneath it. Probably not a very wise idea as you can see from the white marks on the shed roof.
The next day, two of them showed up at the same time. I have never seen two together as I always understood they are very territorial. When I walked out, they both flew away. I should mention that they were not a pair as they kept a good distance between each other. The day after neither of the Herons showed up. Maybe they were a bit unnerved to find competition for the food.
It didn’t last long as the following day, bright and really early, just at first light, the bigger of the two re-appeared. By now, I am really into this “getting up early” thing and was ready for it. I scrambled out the door even before coffee or a shower (in my case, the hot tub) and it flew away. Well, the sneaky bugger waited until I went back in the house and while I was shaving, got close enough to the pond with the streams to catch several of the goldfish. For some reason and maybe because the dogs and I came out, the Heron didn’t eat one of the fish and I found it on the pathway. It had been flipping about and was covered in gravel as you can see by the picture. I tossed it back in the pond and it has survived and is swimming with the rest of them. I don’t know exactly how many the Heron caught as it’s a job to count but it looks like at least four, all goldfish. The remaining fish are very skittish and are all cowered under whatever cover they can find. I guess I would be cowering too if my immediate death was coming at me in the shape of a Heron.
The rest of the day was spent on checking the electric fencing to make sure it is working and raising the fence a bit higher. I also “marked” the posts with little whirligigs and ribbon so that I know exactly where to look. It was a job to know before where that particular pond is as the garden has already grown in with tall plants and green-stuff. Now I can see exactly where it is making it easier to spot anything unusual. The Herons tend to blend in unless they are standing out in the open. I want to get a video of this bird in flight but I can’t get close enough with my video camera. Maybe I can get it with my Canon 5100 D and its telescopic lens in video mode. I have also been thinking of installing a couple of the cameras from the surveillance system so that I could actually take a look at the Heron in action.
I am quite sure that we will be fighting this battle for some time to come. On the one hand, I don’t want to lose any more fish. I forgot to mention that it had cleaned out seven of the eight fish that were in the two small 80 gallon tanks that I put together for last years Pond Tour. I don’t plan on replacing them but instead will plant water lilies in these tanks as I can’t get the lilies to grow in the ponds because the big Koi just tear them up.
On the other hand, maybe by the end of the summer, I will have completely changed my sleep habits and will become a morning person. Heaven forbid…
To be continued…