(July 11 & 13, 2005)
JULY 11/05 - SMORGASHBORD - If today's journal looks familiar, it's because I was back at French Creek a couple of times taking pictures of the same birds. The Great Blue Heron once again displayed its superb hunting prowess and answered my question of "Does the Heron grab its prey or does it spear its prey?" The Merganser family was home, and I enjoyed them as much as I had a couple of days ago. My timing was right as it was low tide and time for a fishy smorgashbord for all the birds.
GOTTCHA - The Great Blue Heron's strike was unerring. It's rare that it misses its prey even if it's hiding in a mess of seaweed.
GRAB OR SPEAR (Part I) - I've asked a few people whether the Heron grabs or spears it prey. I've never gotten a definitive response. Answer - it grabs its prey as shown in the above photo. (more about this later)
TENDERIZING - The other day I saw the Heron scramble to the rocks so it could drop the fish and euthanize it with a few strategic surgical strikes of the bill. Today, it merely used its jaws as a vice to squeeze the life out of the fish. Starting near the head of the fish, it would squeeze, then near the middle, then near the tail. It repeated the process several times.
REORIENTATION - When the fish was suitably tenderized, the Heron simply flipped it around to head first, and the conveyor belt carried it down to the stomach.
CATCHING UP WITH THE MERGANSERS - The Common Merganser family was still home and as usual, fun to watch. They were having their customary afternoon nap when I caught up to them.
PREENING TIME - In between swimming and hunting lessons, the ducklings practiced the lessons on self-grooming.
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST - The Merganser ducklings were already accomplished hunters. As I mentioned previously, sharing is not part of their vocabulary. Mind you, the other ducklings would have liked to share, but not the one with the food.
THE CHASE - The French Connection chase scene had nothing on Merganser mayhem. The high speed chase criss-crossed the creek, but the duckling with the fish put a new meaning to "eating on the run." It had no trouble swallowing the whole fish while in full flight.
JULY 13, 2005
July 13/05 - KING OR QUEEN? You're slipping. I slipped on the last journal when I said the King was in the house. It was the Queen. The Queen was still there today. Actually, there were a pair of Queens and not a full house. They weren't as successful as the Heron, but they got a few fish. I was trying for some diving shots, but my angle and perch from the rocks made it impossible. I settled for a couple of flight shots.
CAMERA MISTAKE - I had the camera set at 1600 ISO the previous evening but forgot to change it for the bright, sunny afternoon. The pictures are grainy (noisy) but maybe it was good to freeze the flight shots.
BLAST OFF - I missed the dive - it happened so fast and I was so slow that I caught the blast off instead.
GRAB OR SPEAR? (Part II) - To answer my question, in this case, the Heron spears its prey. The answer is that the Heron uses both techniques. It depends on the size of the prey. Smaller fish would be difficult to spear and easier to grab. Spearing larger prey serves 2 purposes. It not only skewers the prey, but also a well placed strike can also be lethal. Only a few subsequent jabs were required before the supper was downed. The smaller fish at the beginning of the journal took much longer to process. I think the Heron can distinguish what type of fish it has. Some need tenderizing and some don't. That's just my guess.
DO SPOTTIES GROW ON TREES? - I had read somewhere that Spotted Sandpipers grow on trees. No one would believe me so I have been on the lookout for proof. I found my answer yesterday by the Kaye Road sewage lagoons.
NANAIMO - BACKYARD WILDBIRD & NATURE STORE SAVE-ON FOODS (WOODGROVE) CHAPTERS FALCONER BOOKS PORT ALBERNI - CLOCKTOWER GALLERY COURTENAY - GRAHAM'S JEWELLERS SIDNEY - VICTORIAN BIRD HOUSE COMOX - BLUE HERON BOOKS BOWSER - LIGHTHOUSE GIFTS SAANICH - WILD BIRDS UNLIMITED VICTORIA - BOLEN'S BOOKS SOOKE - SOOKE HARBOUR HOUSE (pending) CAMPBELL RIVER - CAMPBELL RIVER MUSEUM DUNCAN - VOLUME 1 BOOKSTORE Comments or questions? email email@example.com
NANAIMO - BACKYARD WILDBIRD & NATURE STORE
SAVE-ON FOODS (WOODGROVE)
PORT ALBERNI - CLOCKTOWER GALLERY
COURTENAY - GRAHAM'S JEWELLERS
SIDNEY - VICTORIAN BIRD HOUSE
COMOX - BLUE HERON BOOKS
BOWSER - LIGHTHOUSE GIFTS
SAANICH - WILD BIRDS UNLIMITED
VICTORIA - BOLEN'S BOOKS
SOOKE - SOOKE HARBOUR HOUSE (pending)
CAMPBELL RIVER - CAMPBELL RIVER MUSEUM
DUNCAN - VOLUME 1 BOOKSTORE
Comments or questions? email firstname.lastname@example.org