Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Great Blue Heron, Gunderson Slough

These are the last of Laurie's photos from Gunderson Slough:

I mentioned the heron, in my earlier post. We were walking down the trail behind the old float-houses when the heron flew past, over the water. He disappeared behind a mass of blackberries and nettles, out of sight, but just a few feet away. I held my breath while Laurie cat-footed along the trail, camera primed and ready. I heard the camera click, then a great flapping of wings as the heron took off. And this is what Laurie had captured:
Herons fly with the neck folded back on the shoulder, and the legs streaming straight back. This one had barely leapt from the water; he still hadn't gotten into proper flying position.

Full-size, you can see how slender, almost scrawny the bird is; the long, skinny body a mere connecting rod between muscular thighs and neck. And all dwarfed by those astonishing wings.

I think he's a juvenile, because of the brownish streaking on the breast, and the lack of the "bib", those straggly breast plumes worn by the breeding adult. Here's a closer view:
Another view, a bit farther away. Isn't he elegant?
And a couple of general shots of the slough.
This is the same scene that Laurie photographed last December. How different it is in the sunlight!
I love these rusty pilings, supports for something long disappeared. And some of those boats look like they're back in the bushes, on land. They aren't. The slough meanders along, narrow and ringed by rickety docks.

One more: rotting wood pilings. With the remains of the deck above. Parts of it still in use.

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