Saturday, June 24, 2006


The other day, passing the little river, I noticed that the grey heron was having terrific success with his fishing. I stopped to watch.

"How did you get to be so good at that?" I asked.

"Practice," said the grey heron.

"Really?" I said. "Do you think I could be that good if I practiced enough?"

"Probably not as good as me," said the heron. "But if you practice your sneaky walks and disguises enough, I expect you could become reasonably good."

"Sneaky walks and disguises?" I said. "I didn't know it was so complicated."

"Oh, yes," said the heron. "Watch. This is a sneaky walk."

"And here it is from another angle. Note how careful I am with my feet. No splashing! The fish should not hear you coming."

"But what if they see you?" I asked.

"That's where the disguises come in," said the heron. "I have a range of disguises. For example, I call this one the Surprised Cat."

"That's ... er ... remarkable," I said. "But I thought fish were afraid of cats."

"They are," said the heron. "But they don't expect to see one in a river, so they freeze in shock. Then before they get their wits together you immediately follow it up with the Surprised Cat Caught in Spin Drier With Toothpick Up Its Nose. It confuses the fish so much they forget to swim away."

"Golly!" I said. "And then you pounce?"

"Yup," said the heron.

"I don't know if I could manage that one," I said.

"It is a little difficult," said the heron. "Perhaps you could start off with a basic Cockatoo disguise instead, like the egret is doing, over there. It's simple, but effective. Cockatoos don't eat fish, so the fish think they are safe."

"Oh, my goodness!" I said.

"You have to be careful about the radio waves you can pick up through the aerial thingies on your head, though," said the heron. "Sometimes the egret just can't help singing along, or arguing with talk-show hosts, and it scares the fish. Listen! He's doing it now. Humming."

I listened.

"But not very loudly," I said.

"No," said the heron. "He's getting there. Maybe one day he'll have perfect self-control, like me."

"I don't know what to say," I said. "You are amazing."

"Funny you should mention that," said the heron.

"I was just thinking the same thing myself."


Cheryl said...

Your stories are always lovely, but what gets me this time is the colour composition, the depth, the way the focus is on the water rather than the feathers, just the skill in these shots has me fighting myself over whether they are photographs or paintings. The first three are particularly amazing.

Angeline Larimer said...


Especially since I've recently decided that herons are my totem.
*Which is kind of odd, because I'm a Pisces, so my totem feeds on my Zodiac.
ANYWAY, the birds are hilarious, as usual. The egret DOES look like a cockatoo!
Cheryl's right. The photography is wonderful. I hope these are on your Flickr, because there are tons of bird fans out there who would LOVE these. As difficult as it is to photograph herons around here, I end up favoriting every one I see.
"arguing with talk-show hosts," TOO MUCH! Great stuff.

Angeline Larimer said...

Back again...I clicked larger versions. "With fish" is totally incredible. They're all great, but that is one amazing capture!
The photobirdalistgeek in me is so in awe.

Bill C said...

I can't help but wonder - Greyherontwisted aka Surprised Cat - *what* was that bird trying to do?! It looks like if you grabbed its "face" and held on, its back end would lift out of the water and start spinning.

Great photos and post!

kenju said...

Wonderful stuff, Badaunt!! I still say you should compile these bird stories into a book. It would sell like hotcakes!!

naridu said...

I especially like, Surprised Cat Caught in Spin Drier With Toothpick Up Its Nose, for picture and descritpion.

Unknown said...

Funny that everyone else mentioned how amazing this is, because I was just thinking that myself.