Thanks for visiting my blog! MudBay Musings chronicles creative journeys, with inspiration and humor I find along the way... including my mother's and my artwork, stories, local bird life and garden favorites...
all of which I hope will bring a smile to your heart.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fishing Lessons


One of the joys of living in Western Washington is the variety of bird life here. We keep track of each species we find here at home, and watch our feathered friends with great joy and awe.

Tasty morsel of crab.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to watch a group of Great Blue Herons fishing at low tide... one of those magical days when sunshine, moderate temperatures and a "low" low mid-day tide happened to coincide - the perfect chance to view the herons at work.

Fishing lessons... doesn't the little one look a bit bewildered?

Stalking worms (!)

Mealtime tug-of-war... herons three, worms zero.
I had the camera resting on the dock rail for stability and used auto-focus capability "sans eyeglasses." Due to the lack of prescription eye-wear at the time, I couldn't tell exactly what the herons were eating, but assumed they were pulling some type of mollusks from their shells.

 The second-biggest worm of the day.

 What I thought at first was a mollusk body...

  Biggest catch of the day - a large, tasty sea worm.  (EEEwwwww! No more walking in the mud for me!)

Wrong! Once we downloaded the pictures and zoomed in, I realized that their tasty morsels looked like small, red snakes. After a bit of online research, I realized they had been catching polychaete worms. Who knew? It blew my mind that we've lived here for ten years and I've never seen these large sea worms before. You can be sure I'll be thinking about that the next time I think about dangling my toes in the water!

This juvenile was getting a bit aggravated by this point, not having much fishing success.

Juvenile camouflaged in muddy plumage -and just look at those muddy "leggings" - aren't they great?

Squabble between the siblings, which ended in one of them flying off in a huff.

The hour of watching was a dramatic one, complete with squabbles between juvenile herons as well as heron-gull tiffs. The gulls were relentless, each following their "own" heron, leaning in upon each catch hoping to snag leftovers or snatch the prey from the inexperienced juveniles. The juveniles were awkward and didn't have much success at the dinner buffet, but from the amount of worms the adults swallowed I have no doubt there was dinner for all back at the nest last evening.

"Mine."  "Mine."   "Mine."
Ratio of gulls to herons - 1:1

A few words were said to the gull beyond the picture frame at right; amusingly enough, the gull above seems undaunted by the harsh reprimand.  ("Who, me?")

A bit perturbed, this heron had finally had enough of the gull invading his personal space.
Gulls - nature's "Peripersonal Space Invaders"

My favorite picture of the day; I love the way the light reflects on the rippled water and the water reflects on the heron's under-body as it flies past.   And honestly, who wouldn't love those long, lanky legs and "turkey feet?"

Hope you enjoyed our little outing - thanks for visiting!


Magpie's Mumblings said...

Lovely photos! We saw a blue heron coming in to land beside the highway this morning (there's a little pond right there). Of course I didn't have my camera - wo I was especially delighted when I saw your post.

Linda said...

Cathy, what a treat to be able while away some time whatching these beautiful birds. Thanks for sharing the photos!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow! A NatGeo post! So cool, Catherine! These birds remind me of prehistoric creatures.

I loved the photos of the tug of war with the worms. However, large sea worms and dangling toes is a little scary! You have had a most wonderful month among the birds! I look forward to seeing more!

Julie said...

"Joy" was the perfect title. Your beautiful picture truly did inspire it!