Sunday, 16 May 2021

A heron

Walking back into town with the rest of the family yesterday, I looked over the canal bridge and saw a heron, standing the other side of the lock gate, calmly watching a narrow boat squeeze through onto the river. I don't recall ever having seen one so close without it hiding from the fishes amongst tall reeds and rushes.

I called to the rest but it was only H.I. who showed any interest, and to say 'showed any interest' is an understatement. We were transfixed. The others peered over the wall briefly and walked on, some showing more passive interest in their phones than the other-worldly bird standing fifteen feet away in real time. 

I thought about taking a photo of it to show you, but soon came to my senses. We spent a good ten minutes just watching it, so I can now bring it back to mind without referring to the screen of my phone.

Its huge feet were like cast bronze and its bib with rows of evenly-spaced, square-ended grey streamers running down both sides was more than functional, as the fringes on the buckskin jackets of backwoodsmen shed rain. A single black streamer on the back of its slicked-back, black head and two long white streamers either side of its colossal beak. It had eyes like the fish it was hunting.

The last tribe of ancient Britons to be conquered by the Romans in this region had a heron god, and you can understand why.

27 comments:

  1. We sometimes see Herons (Grey Blue Herons) wading in rivers and they are incredible. However, the odd times I have seen them in flight, it's like witnessing smaller scaled ptarodactyls! -Jenn

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    1. Yes, and they have a squark which sounds primeval too.

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  2. Herons are magnificent birds. You were wise to leave your phone in your pocket and to spend time just observing it instead.

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  3. I’d have liked to have seen a photo !!!! XXXX

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    1. There are plenty of photos of herons out there.

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  4. A portrait painting of the heron as you described it would be fantastic. I can see it framed just thinking about it. There are individuals that seem to prefer their phones over and above everything else. A sign of the times?

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    1. We were looking down on it, but that was an unusual viewpoint. There is a whole generation who never used celluloid film and never had to meet under the clock in town.

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  5. I had a déja vu moment upon seeing the post heading. I wondered what I was going to read about seeing as he visited you here last night.

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    1. A view of a heron rather than a heron's view.

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  6. It is breathtaking to witness something like that. You were truly fortunate

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    1. My mother went through her whole life never having seen a kingfisher.

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  8. Love herons - one of my favourite birds. Their crouch reminds me of those black and white movies of American gumshoes waiting outside apartment blocks, collars turned up in the rain...
    And when they start to fly it takes them so long to get going, as if they are saying , oh must I... here we go I suppose... like the old guy who trudges round to our local shop to but his paper... funny analogy I know, but it's what they remind me of.
    Not quite sure how I ended up at your blog, but hello nonetheless.., I'll pop back sometime soon.

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    1. You are welcome back. I have heard references to you so I popped over to yours last night too.

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  9. And if you every have opportunity to watch once fly away, you will be transfixed. A slow, running take off, then slow uplift from giant wings and then an arrow, from bill to feet, in flight.

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    1. I see them land on a small lake near me a lot. The approach is full of tree hazards, like certain airports and high rise buildings.

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  10. It obviously made a deep impression, Tom. Your description was almost poetry. I see quite a few herons when quietly cycling over Romney Marsh. The dykes and ditches attract them for the fish.

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    1. Yes, marsh creatures seem to generate mystery.

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  11. There is something very old and magical about herons, we have one around here in the fields, and he must be rather old because his feathers look tattered and raggedy.

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    1. I wonder how long they live. A gull can carry on for 35 years if it's lucky.

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  12. We get herons on the nearby River Lea. There is one that is quite " tame" and I have been within a couple of yards and it doesn't fly away! Beautiful creatures.

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    1. I imagine they could give you a nasty peck if they needed to.

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  13. Thank you for the detail about the fringe on buckskin jackets, never knew it had a function. This fact will now be stored away amongst the hoards of nuggets of useless information filling my brain.

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    1. I have a lot of useless bits of information clogging up my brain.

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  14. We have great herons here. I love to watch them lifting those long legs as they wade. Such ungainly creatures on the ground, but when they lift off, it is a whole 'nuther story.

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    1. That's funny. I think they are quite graceful on land. The take-off and landing needs a bit of work done on it though.

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