We had an unexpected visitor at Coracle Cove last week. The sun made a brief appearance and I forced myself to sit down on an outside deck for a few minutes, if only to soak up some of the vitamin D that has been missing in my diet for the past few weeks. It was then that I noticed the visitor, standing quietly on the rocky shoreline below.
Great Blue Heron are actually regular visitors to Coracle Cove, but they don’t often stay put for as long as this one did. But then, this beautiful blue feathered bird was quite focussed on catching its next meal and didn’t seem to mind the close attention that I was paying to it at all. Heron are carnivores and their long legs, neck and pointed bill are particularly well suited for foraging in the water. A further modification in their vertebra lets them draw their neck back into an S-shape. Standing completely motionless, they patiently wait for small fish to move into striking range, and then shoot their head and bill forward with lightning speed to spear their unwary prey.
Unfortunately, these heron are themselves, caught in the middle of the food chain. They must be ever vigilant and on the lookout for the sharp-eyed and swift-flighted eagle. As our eagle population has increased, the ungainly flight pattern of the heron is seriously outmatched, and our heron population is now noticeably declining. Can anything be done, or have we already interferred too much with Mother Nature?