Nature in a Minute with a Great Blue Heron

Many Miles by Mary Oliver

The feet of the heron,
under those bamboo stems,
hold the blue body,
the great beak above the shallows
of the pond.
Who could guess
their patience?
Sometimes the toes
shake, like worms.
What fish
could resist?

A Great Blue Heron answers the dinner bell

Great Blue Heron, April 2, 2020, Norton Reservoir, Norton, Massachusetts

Although the iron grey sky hung low and the drizzle damped the muddy spring earth, I’ve been trying to spend time in communing with nature each day and enjoying the restorative power of simply being outdoors. Especially for those who can’t make it outside during our days of shared isolation, I’m always searching for the spectacular in the ordinary and not so ordinary that surrounds us everyday to bring you some wonderful glimpses of the natural world through my photography. As I was driving around the Norton Reservoir looking for Common Mergansers, Buffleheads, Bald Eagles, and other ducks, I spotted a faint flash of bright white in some cattails and reeds along the pond’s edge. I was delighted to see a Great Blue Heron and really excited when I realized it was enjoying a meal, mostly likely a sunfish – either a Pumpkinseed or Bluegill. I hope you enjoy these photographs of this amazing natural history moment.

Great Blue Herons will eat almost anything – from fish, small mammals, frogs, and more. Because herons and other birds lack teeth, they can’t chew and swallow their prey whole.

Will the Fish Fit?

It Fits!

Swallowing it Whole! Look at the Neck…

Where is my next meal???

Landscape of the Norton Reservoir with two Common Mergansers in the Distance

Thank you so much for reading our Nature in a Minute photo essay. We hope you are doing well in these challenging and uncertain times. Also, we have linked to a wonderful post by Barry Van Dusen, our former artist-in-residence at MABA, about his wonderful visit to a Heron Rookery at the Rocky Hills Wildlife Sanctuary in Groton.

Barry Van Dusen visits a Heron Rookery at the Rocky Hills Wildlife Sanctuary during his artist-in-residence at MABA

Enjoy this wonderful post from Barry Van Dusen about his visit to the Great Blue Heron Rookery at Mass Audubon’s Rocky Hills Wildlife Sanctuary.

6 thoughts on “Nature in a Minute with a Great Blue Heron

  1. Susan Brand

    Hi Sean,
    Are the great blues nesting at Rocky Hill this year? I visited last year and was thrilled to see multiple nests and babies!

    1. Sean K. Post author

      Hi Susan,
      I think they are nesting at Rocky Hill this year, it’s wonderful to see them.

  2. Rosamond Vaule

    Sean, I’m new to “blogging” and love your recent posts. Your great blue heron essay was beautiful and brilliant. A story well told that rewards close looking–a valuable lesson for any nature lover– at your lovely photographs, and I applaud the way you’ve wedded them to poetry and Barry Van Dusen’s splendid drawings.
    Thank you, and I also think you’ve done a great job harnessing Milly’s curiosity and enthusiasm to entice other readers and visitors to MABA!

    1. Sean K. Post author

      Hi Rosamond,
      Thank you so much for following the blog and wonderful comment, I’m touched. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Be well and safe.

  3. Faith F Sandstrom

    Sean– you have an amazing eye for capturing birds… what wonderful photos of the Great Blue “having lunch.” It reminded me of visits to the Everglades and watching anhingas fish in similar fashion.. quietly – silently waiting in the shallows and then suddenly jerking forward to spear/capture the fish; then juggling the catch so it would fit lengthwise down the gullet… and oh, watching the fish protrude from the neck as the bird forced it down! That was the hardest part as I kept thinking about the fish! Your photos are fabulous! Thank you for being in the right place and the right moment and ready with your camera! Stay safe, Faith

    1. Sean K. Post author

      Hi Faith,
      Thank you so much for the wonderful memory of being in the Everglades. The anhingas are such wonderful animals, truly remarkable. Be well and thanks for the nice comments.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *