I told myself a couple of years ago that I was no longer going to rely 100% on the weather forecasts and cheat myself out of a walk in doing so. Too many times that Summer, I had listened to the weatherman, or scoped out The Weather Channel, then heeded their predictions for rain or otherwise ugly weather the next morning. That caused me to decide to sleep in and forego my walk, only to awaken to sun streaming in the window. Grrrrr! Since then, I listen to what the weather folks have to say, but rely on what I see with my own eyes instead.
Like this morning.
I felt pretty confident heading out at my usual time, since the predicted snow showers and frozen precipitation were slated for mid-to-late morning. I looked outside, and even though it was somewhat gloomy looking, it was dry as a bone. No wintry-type weather was going to stop me in my tracks today!
So off I went.
Halfway to Council Point Park, a snowflake or two fluttered down and landed on my coat. I thought to myself “well, if this is all the snow they’ve been crowing about, it’s no big deal!”
But, by the time I wended my way down Pagel Avenue and arrived at the Park, the snow showers were fast and furious, and, though nothing was sticking, the perimeter path was soaking wet. That snow was coming down pretty hard, but I decided I had not walked a mile only to turn around and return home, and besides … there were two other walkers on the other side of the loop. So I stayed.
The snow was still a’flyin’ when I saw him.
A Great Blue Heron was standing on the cement landing. I have had a love/hate relationship with a Great Blue Heron for over a year. All Summer I see him as I near the cement landing. There he is, standing on those spindly legs waiting to catch a fish. But usually, once he sees me he takes off. I’ve gotten a few shots of him but that’s because he was staring into space and not paying attention.
This morning we made eye contact, and he bolted before I could even take out the camera. Another missed opportunity I thought. I figured it was just as well, as I didn’t want the camera getting all wet from those snow showers. He flew across the Ecorse Creek and stood in the water where I got a better look at him. He was definitely not the same heron I’ve been pursuing for an up-close photo all these months. He was much larger; the other heron seemed scrawny in comparison. And this heron’s crest and plumage were more blue than all gray. I found a tree to go under to give some protection to the camera, then parted some dead brush and zoomed in.
I even took off my gloves to use my bare hands like a hood to shield the camera lens while I studied this beautiful bird. It seemed he was preening and/or picking at his bugs forever.
My hands were freezing, the snow showers were incessant, and now turning into a sleety mixture and leaving big damp spots on my coat. Finally, he posed for me and I clicked off a few shots. I continued watching him through the camera, so I was surprised when suddenly there was a flurry of activity. His body puffed out, with each feather on end, and I saw that long neck snake out into the water. Look at the wriggling green fish he caught with his spear-like beak! If you look closely, in this photo only, you can see the frozen precip landing on the water.
With that prize fish clamped firmly in his beak, the heron returned to an upright position and I took its picture once again.
I decided not to linger to determine the ultimate fate of the fish, but to get going. It was serendipity that I should have continued my journey on a snow-showery April day, only to cross paths with this beautiful Great Blue Heron.