|Geese On Remaining Ice|
|Ice So Thin It Should Be Water|
|Blue Heron Returns|
|Blue Heron Toes on Ice|
|Naughty Bird Dog|
|Temporary Bird Watching Post|
|A Hero's Cape of Feathers|
|New Bird Watching Buddy|
|Wading Through the Dried Grass|
|Birds Unruffled by the Cat|
The chilly non-precipitous days continue and diminish my desire to roll out of my snug and warm bed. Even Bobo looks at me with one eye open as if to say, "Forget it." Waking up ranks low on my favorite daily tasks. No matter the time, I'm never a morning person.
With Grenny on a leash and Bobo unfettered, I stagger outside in Todd's boots only because he leaves his shoes scattered like toys at the porch door. Mine are neatly sequestered upstairs where I always forget them. My brain is still groggy.
A Canada goose couple hold my attention. They give me the morning pond report: ice remains. It seems thin as silver paint flakes and I wonder how two large water birds that can weigh as much as 18 pounds each can stand sturdily on a skim of ice. Maybe it's the webbed feet.
Then I see him and I'm fully awakened. My returning hero, my knight in blue feathers, Blue Heron.
Bobo spies him, too and to my horror, she gives chase. I never allow the dogs pond access once migration returns and breeding commences. Blue Heron tucks long legs and glides across the pond with a few flaps of wings as blue as steel and spanning almost six feet across.
This is a much bigger bird than a pointer can manage. I call and Bobo returns to me.
Blue herons in general can cruise at 20 to 30 miles per hour with those wings. In summer, they are easy to spot, cruising low through the valley from bog ponds to lakes or rivers. Elmira Pond has one resident Blue Heron and he's back! He stays, but avoids the annoyance of the dog by scooting to the far side of the pond.
Long legs are for wading. But there's little open water on Elmira Pond this morning. It's March 5 and last year I welcomed my returning hero on March 29. That he is so early, I'm taken by surprise. What will he do with the skim of ice? The geese at least can munch on pasture grass.
After returning the dogs to the house, I grab my coffee mug, camera and plastic chair. Usually I don't dare so close a view of Elmira Pond, wanting the residents to feel secure, but Blue Heron is on the other side and mating ducks are not yet here. The geese are not easily deterred so I take the rare opportunity to settle a seat so close to the pond.
And then I hear loud meowing. Bootsy has followed me. I watch her approach and figure her voice is giving fair warning to all birds present, including the robins. No feathers seem ruffled and the cat hops onto my lap. How strange it is to be watching birds in the companionship of a cat.
The peat is yet young and greening; clover miniscule and green grass hidden beneath matted humps of last year's crop. My coffee is settled on a mound of peat and my toes wiggle in Todd's boots. Blue Heron is back!
I watch him through the lens of my Nikon, the camera body squishes the tip of my nose and I tuck my elbows in for support. I hold the position. He preens his feathers like a guest who wants a shower after a long trip.
How long? Maybe he just stayed in central Washington. Maybe he went to Arizona. Maybe he's been hanging out along the open waters of the Clark Fork River.
Blue Heron swings his blade-face around and cocks an eye my direction. He coils his neck like a striking snake and I'm surprised to see him in a hunting stance. Like a warrior with a lance, he strikes and returns to a fully upright position, neck elongated and beak holding what looks like a mouse.
Evidently, my wading bird is content to eat mice until he can reach the fish. In another month or two the bull frogs will spawn and he will feast. For now, the feast is all mine and I digest the view before me with eyes fully awakened.
Elmira Pond returns to life.
Haiku to a Heron
of field mice, fat fish and frogs.
Lancelot has returned.