Monday, January 14, 2013

Phenology: Heron Fishing in Stream

After a few days of unseasonable warm weather, unfortunately without enough dry wind to firm up the ground, we're now back to dampness, sometimes heavy rains, rain-swollen streams, soil-dwellers like earthworms swimming desperately across paved roads.

Yesterday, during a short break in between "showers," I saw a flicker. Mostly, apart from the resident sparrows and cardinals, the birds I've seen have been crows; but today, on the way to the computer center, I saw a great blue heron fly from the large, steep-sided pond at the west end of town, across the road, to the almost flooded creek the road follows.

As great blue herons go, this one isn't very big, and it has no "breeding plumes." From the fact that it flew close enough for me to observe these facts with my naked astigmatic eyes, we can also infer that it's grown up among humans.

From the fact that it chose to fish along a shallow creek, which seldom harbors even a minnow, rather than a pond that harbors many kinds of fish, we can tell that the footholds the heron would normally have used beside the pond are flooded. And, from the fact that the shallows in the creek are now quite deep, the low banks are under water, and the weather was warm enough that several early-spring creatures hatched last week, we can guess that the heron will find a few frogs, crayfish, and insects to nosh on. (I heard a Spring Peeper on Saturday.)