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Fri Apr 8, 2016, 06:27 PM

 

Backyard Visitor

The river is wide and slow here. A crescent-shaped sandbar bearing marsh grasses divides the oxbow. The water has been high for several weeks now, the island flooded. Geese, ducks, muskrats and others frequent the area. So do hawks and bald eagles.

Today a pair of Great Blue Heron stopped by to visit, and Crystal Dancer had her camera at hand. These are magnificant birds, standing four-feet tall with a six-foot wingspan. Impressive to see in flight or wading the shallows.

The first bird landed up the river a bit and instantly blended into the background. This one landed 25 yards off our deck.


It's crest, hackles and back feathers were all raised upon landing. You can see a bit better in this enlargement ...


After a couple little shimmys to get its feathers in place, the big bird remained motionless for perhaps 10 minutes, then began it's quiet stalk of the shallows.


Twenty minutes later it flew off, huge wings silently creating the necessary lift. Amazing encounter, and props to Crystal Dancer for grabbing the pics!

42 replies, 4107 views

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Arrow 42 replies Author Time Post
Reply Backyard Visitor (Original post)
Scuba Apr 2016 OP
Awknid Apr 2016 #1
OnlinePoker Apr 2016 #24
haikugal Apr 2016 #26
NanceGreggs Apr 2016 #2
Little_Wing Apr 2016 #3
malaise Apr 2016 #4
NJCher Apr 2016 #5
SoapBox Apr 2016 #6
redstatebluegirl Apr 2016 #7
phylny Apr 2016 #8
mnhtnbb Apr 2016 #9
AlbertCat Apr 2016 #10
Martin Eden Apr 2016 #11
hue Apr 2016 #12
Thespian2 Apr 2016 #13
niyad Apr 2016 #14
dhill926 Apr 2016 #15
a kennedy Apr 2016 #16
d_legendary1 Apr 2016 #17
Duval Apr 2016 #18
Bob Loblaw Apr 2016 #19
Enthusiast Apr 2016 #20
Scuba Apr 2016 #23
Enthusiast Apr 2016 #35
haikugal Apr 2016 #28
Enthusiast Apr 2016 #33
Hekate Apr 2016 #36
Enthusiast Apr 2016 #39
Iwillnevergiveup Apr 2016 #21
secondwind Apr 2016 #22
Helen Borg Apr 2016 #25
yourpaljoey Apr 2016 #27
Land of Enchantment Apr 2016 #29
Triana Apr 2016 #30
Samantha Apr 2016 #31
Octafish Apr 2016 #32
Hekate Apr 2016 #34
carolinayellowdog Apr 2016 #37
democrank Apr 2016 #38
Dont call me Shirley Apr 2016 #40
bigwillq Apr 2016 #41
etherealtruth Apr 2016 #42

Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Apr 8, 2016, 06:31 PM

1. They are so beautiful

Thanks for the great photos!

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Response to Awknid (Reply #1)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 12:17 PM

24. Until they speak

Here's the Bird Note piece on the bird.

http://birdnote.org/show/regal-great-blue-heron

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Response to OnlinePoker (Reply #24)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 12:29 PM

26. We have a breeding colony on the stream and they make a lot of odd sounds. Noisy birds and

Glorious to watch.

Beautiful pictures, thanks for sharing!

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Apr 8, 2016, 06:31 PM

2. INCREDIBLE photos! n/t

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Apr 8, 2016, 06:47 PM

3. Such elegant birds!

Just... beautiful.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Apr 8, 2016, 06:56 PM

4. Magnificent

Thanks

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Apr 8, 2016, 07:04 PM

5. Six-foot wing span

That's amazing. Pics are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.


Cher

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Apr 8, 2016, 07:09 PM

6. Very cool.

Thanks for sharing the nature.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Apr 8, 2016, 07:13 PM

7. Very cool!

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Apr 8, 2016, 07:19 PM

8. We have them all around our lake.

They make quite a mess when they relieve themselves on the dock but we love them anyway.

Nice pictures, thanks for sharing!

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Apr 8, 2016, 07:23 PM

9. Those are wonderful photos!

How fun it must be to watch the river/marsh from your deck!

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Apr 8, 2016, 07:28 PM

10. Whoa!

 

This brought back a forgotten memory from my prep-school years.

It was out in the boonies. I went down to the river and sat down under a tree by a low swampy place, in the shade, to study for a math exam. After a while, a Great Blue swooped in and stood right in front of me and looked at me for about 30 seconds and then gracefully flew off.

I forgot everything I had just studied.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Apr 8, 2016, 07:29 PM

11. What's it worth?

How do we place a value on such beautiful wildlife in a natural setting?

Just looking at this 2 dimensional photograph enriches me.

How impoverished the world will be if the quest for short term profit continues to destroy ecosystems and irreplaceable species!

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Apr 8, 2016, 07:43 PM

12. I love the Great Blue Herons!

I see one on my walks regularly who flies around me at times! Thanks for posting!!!

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Apr 8, 2016, 07:47 PM

13. Thanks...

extremely cool...won't be long 'til we will see some critters in our river...

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Apr 8, 2016, 07:59 PM

14. what a beautiful visitor. thank you so much for sharing those lovely pics.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Apr 8, 2016, 08:28 PM

15. Beeyoutifull....

we have a few in our neighborhood. Magnificent when they fly overhead...

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Apr 8, 2016, 08:39 PM

16. One of my favorites.....just a spectacular bird.....used to have them in front of our

home, then the Mississippi rose....and now, no herrings, or Great American Egrets....or any tall legged birds. Hoping, as the river goes down the tall legged birds will come back. We heard some Sand Hill Cranes calling as they flew over our home......here's hoping they'll continue to fly overhead. Been in this home for 16 years and have only heard these cranes for the last few years....and am falling for them also. What a wonder world we live in....so thankful for these magnificent birds to enjoy and tell others about.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Apr 8, 2016, 08:40 PM

17. Beautiful birds, bad memories for me

When I once drove straight trucks through West Palm Beach via the Turnpike I saw a Blue Heron was on the side of the road. I thought myself lucky since I've never seen one in real life before. Then the other one showed up, flying on the lane that I was in. As soon as I see that I might end up colliding with it I hit the brakes. Thank God it saw me since it started changing direction, giving me an even closer view of how big those things can get! If that bird had gone through my wind shield...but it didn't. I was mesmerized and scared at the same time. Hell of an experience for me!

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Apr 8, 2016, 08:56 PM

18. Wow! We have only one.

 

We live in a Lakeside community and the man-made lake is about 12 to 15 feet from our deck. We have a Great Blue Heron we call "Blue" and have been fortunate to see his lovely totally white mate during the Spring. One day I looked out, and there they were flying in formation, with a little baby heron taking up the rear. But, we didn't have Crystal Dancer to take pictures, darn it.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 09:14 AM

19. Props

to Crystal Dancer for the pix, and to you Scuba for the lyrical prose accompaniment.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 09:38 AM

20. They make a sound that one imagines sounds like what a Pterodactyl would make.

They are very predatory. They love to eat some baby ducks and most anything else they can catch in addition to fish.

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Response to Enthusiast (Reply #20)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 12:10 PM

23. Lots of birds are predatory. Red-winged blackbirds owned the cattail marsh behind my old house ...

 

I saw them sit on deer, and sandhill cranes, and peck on them until they left.

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Response to Scuba (Reply #23)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 06:02 PM

35. Red-winged blackbirds make funny sounds too. Almost metallic sounding.

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Response to Enthusiast (Reply #20)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 12:33 PM

28. Our favorite nickname for them...Pterodactyl. Great minds...lol

We had a group of wild Turkey come through the meadow the other day and there were about 6 Herons enjoying the sun at the time. The Turkey gave it right back to the Herons...took no grief from the big birds. It was cool to watch and it was the first time we've seen Turkey on our place. Exciting!

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Response to haikugal (Reply #28)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 06:00 PM

33. Turkeys are impressive birds too.



I used to watch them while deer hunting. One time I watched a flock of hundreds! I live in the wilderness.

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Response to Enthusiast (Reply #20)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 06:06 PM

36. Sometimes they like to stand out on the median strip and pick off gophers.

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Response to Hekate (Reply #36)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 06:29 PM

39. Really? I saw one with its head in a McDonalds sack beside the road one time.

Bad turkey!

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 09:58 AM

21. As a person

who will never see any of these beautiful creatures in my back yard, I thank you for sending us these pix.

K&R

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 10:34 AM

22. wonderful pictures, and I LOVE the perfect reflection of this magnificent creature in the water!

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 12:22 PM

25. Hide it from Cheney!

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 12:31 PM

27. I used to wade the rivers while fly fishing

Always amazing to come upon one of these great birds.
They would let me pass by quite close without making a fuss.
Same with poisonous snakes.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 12:47 PM

29. Beautiful. I used to see them near the Tennessee River

along with snowy white egrets. Crystal Dancer is a gifted photographer!!!! Thanks, fist thing I saw today on the computer.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 05:23 PM

30. Stunning. I love Blue Herons. n/t

 

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 05:33 PM

31. Beautful pictures -- thank you for sharing (eom)

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 05:51 PM

32. Jackpine Radical said about that bird: ''I'm heron you loud and clear.''

From September 2013 --

"The blue heron is one of my totem creatures. They have appeared at many times and brought comfort in my life crises. I can't explain their personal significance to anyone who doesn't already know about that sort of thing." -- Jackpine Radical of DU

-- http://www.democraticunderground.com/10023676773#post19


My wife and I saw one in Kentucky:



Gorgeous beings, birds and humans.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 06:01 PM

34. Gorgeous photos. We have some out here in the slough by the beach...

One of my favorite memories of all time was of taking a very late afternoon walk along the beach, until it became twilight and we turned back. As the twilight deepened I realized there was a Great Blue Heron pacing us, walking breast high in the waves parallel to the shore. He was hard to see in that light, and became harder and harder to make out, but I kept checking and he was still there. As we reached our destination the lights from the pier blocked out fainter images and I lost sight of him... I don't know when he finally took off, but it was a magnificent experience.

Forgot to say: I'm in the Santa Barbara CA area. We have an amazing number of birds who live here year round or pass through.


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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 06:06 PM

37. as an avid kayaker I've been awestruck by their beauty for years, and perplexed by one behavior

Dozens of times, on many different rivers, I've come around a curve and seen a Great Blue ahead, noticed it noticing me, and then the same thing happens. S/he flies slowly downstream, waits a hundred yards ahead for me to get within sight, then takes off when I'm within the same distance I was the last time... rinse and repeat. It can go on for miles as if the bird imagines it is guiding me down the river.

Not once have I seen one fly upstream or perpendicular to the river; it's always downstream and always keeping a certain distance ahead, just enough to let me keep getting in sight. This seems playful to me, and when dolphins have done similar behaviors I know their mammal brains intended to interact with me. But with the herons there may be some sensible non-anthropomorphic scientific explanation of this "lead you down the river for miles" behavior which many paddler friends have also commented on. And which might have contributed to JPR's feelings about their specialness.

Thanks for the wonderful pics which bring back fond memories.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 06:23 PM

38. So beautiful

Thank you

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 06:32 PM

40. Beautiful.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 06:51 PM

41. Great pics!

 

K and R

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 06:53 PM

42. K&R so no one misses this

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