Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cousin of T-rex Hisownself

And then you have the easy to photograph critters. I was standing at the point where the Blue Springs Run meets the St. Johns River and noticed a Great blue heron fishing, just moving along the shore nabbing small fish as it went. Great blue herons are neat as hell. I'd always thought of them as just these huge, fragile-looking wading birds. But, actually, they're one of the top predators of the low country. They eat just about anything you can think of that is smaller than they are. Young alligators. Lizards. Bunny rabbits. Snakes of all sizes. Rodents. Etc. One of the park rangers told me that he watched one the previous day pick up a hard-shelled turtle. At first he figured it would have to drop the turtle. "No way he was going to be able to swallow that one," he told me. But, no. It turned its beak to the sky, opened up, and swallowed that turtle whole. No problem.

Great blue herons can stand four and a half feet tall. So I've met a few of them when they were standing on a small log who could look me right in the eye. Amazing animals, and peering into that eye, you can certainly believe that they're the cousin of the late, lamented T-rex.

Here's a series of photos I took of the Great blue as he walked along, filling his stomach from the all-you-can-eat buffet know as the St. John's River.


Wayne Allen Sallee said...

It is amazing what certain species are able to do in the manner of their eating habbits. I've marvelled at ants carrying a sliver of potato chip. We have gulls (and some geese) all over the south suburbs. The days I stop at 95th for comics, I'll drop some Cheerios on the ground. Its amazing how their heirarchy (if that's the word) is: some birds stand watch, others eat, others CAN eat, but may have eaten elsewhere and they all take turns. If only one or two gulls are there, one takes to the sky in an arc. The ones who stand watch fascinate me.

HemlockMan said...

There was a really bold type of bird on our trip. Once, we were tossing some chips on the ground to see what happened and some raven appeared to take the chips. Then this little brown bird flew down and barged in on the action, despite the fact that it was less than half the size of the ravens. In one case, this bird actually took a potato chip out of a raven's beak! He was one little bad ass!