Friday, November 4, 2016

Eyes Too Big For His Stomach

When I watched a Peregrine Falcon eating an American Avocet (Once in a Lifetime Experience) a few weeks back it was a pretty amazing sight.  This week I happened upon another scene of nature being nature, however the two events could not be more different.

The Great Blue Heron is the largest North American Heron
I was doing a little hiking near Lewisville Lake in the Dallas area taking pictures of some Great Blue Herons when I came across this guy on the shore of the Elm Creek Trinity Fork that runs through the Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area.  He had proven himself quite the fisherman having hauled in this very large catfish.

I estimate the fish to be between 10-12 inches long
I watched as he tried repeatedly to get it into position to swallow it.


Herons feed on fish, crabs, shrimp, frogs and even mice and other small rodents
Occasionally he would stop and take a break, wander down to the water to get a drink, then head back up the bank for another go.


Herons hunt in shallow water and along water edges
At one point he decided to drag the fish down to the water, dipping it into the creek.


They have been known to choke on fish too large to swallow
After dunking the fish in the creek the current took hold and threatened to wash the fish down stream, but the Great Blue Heron captured it a second time and brought it back up to the shore to give it another go.


By now I had decided I was going to see this through to the end no mater how long it took.  I have seen a lot of pictures of these birds swallowing large fish whole and really wanted to get that shot, though this was the largest fish I had seen one attempt to eat.  When I sat down on the bank I noticed a snake skin by my side.  A giant zoom lens is not the best for this kind of photography, but I did my best to get a shot.  Love the texture.


I watched as the poor guy tried one more time to wrangle the catfish, but then he became distracted and a little antsy.  It was easy to figure out why as this man wandered out of the woods.


He never tore his gaze from the man who I assumed at the time was a fisherman who was making his way toward him.


But eventually he became just too close and the heron abandoned his catch (too heavy for him to pick up and fly with may be), and flew off to a new perch.


I thought the man and the bird must have both been on the same page when the man stopped in the same spot as the heron had been to set up shop.  He was not a fisherman, however, and seemed from his equipment to be there collecting water samples or on some other environmental task.


If you saw the post on the Peregrin Falcon you have no doubt recognized the differences, but I'll lay them out here anyway.

  1. The falcon ate his prey in pieces whereas the heron tried to swallow his whole
  2. Obviously the falcon was successful and the heron was unsatisfied
  3. The falcon was not deterred by my presence while he ate and the heron was scared off by the guy with the interesting equipement
I saw a few other birds here of note: American Kestrel, Norther Flicker, Osprey, Belted Kingfisher, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  

Ruby-crowned Kinglet
The Kinglet was a new one for my Life List.  I'm up to 256!.  Check out my album to see the new ones.  Pretty excited.  And some of them are pretty good shots, like this one which has become my new favorite.

Blue-headed Vireo