Thursday, March 5, 2015


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
Preening Feathers
Hunting Mice
Wading Through the Dried Grass
Birds Unruffled by the Cat
Sun coaxes my eyes to open, but I ignore the persistent rays. Do I long for the rainy season because northern Idaho needs the moisture or because dark clouds can hide the undeniable fact that the sun is rising earlier each morning?

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

Common predator
of field mice, fat fish and frogs.
Lancelot has returned.


  1. The first thing I notice when reading that March 5 is the day your knight in blue feathers returned is the date. Exactly one year ago you posted the first ever flash fiction challenge over on your other blog, the Carrot Ranch. What a difference your blue knight would see over there! Congratulations on your achievements in this tireless year!
    Now back to this blog and this gorgeous post. The description of the pond and its inhabitants is beautiful. You paint a picture so peaceful and serene, with the natural world in harmony, including its beautiful human who knows the cycles and understands the inter-connectivity of it all, who seeks to protect as much as enjoy, to provide as much as to take. What a beautiful part of the world you live in, and how special for it that you respect it so.
    The heron is magnificent. The blue of the wings is just amazing. But so are the geese and I'm sure the soon to be nesting ducks. Boots and Bobo will learn to respect as you do. They have a patient and understanding human friend to ensure no harm is done.
    I knew I would enjoy this post at the first mention of the heron. Thank you for bringing a little tranquility into my otherwise hectic Saturday. :)

    1. Thank you for that reminder that it was a year ago that I posted the first flash fiction. All I knew was that I wanted to get back to my literary roots and find other writers who were imaginative and interesting and wanting to be a part of a literary community. That day was a leap of faith. To have Blue Heron return exactly a year later feels almost magical! I'm so glad you enjoy visiting Elmira Pond! I'll be posting my "reports" now that birds are coming back. So far, Bootsy & Bobo are respecting the pond space. The cat is more interested in my company and the dog in hunting field mice. :-)

  2. I'm dead impressed by your pond - what is it with you Americans btw. You put hyperbole into exaggeration in everything apart from your water labels. You call Elmira a pond; over here it would be an inland sea. Anyway beautiful bird and I'm green with envy. We have a grey heron even in our chink of suburban London who plays havoc with those pretentious pond owners who populate theirs with koy carp. Ours when fully functioning will be left to nature. And of our two cats the huntress wears a bell the better to warn any dopey birds. Happy spring watch!

  3. I suppose with the second largest Alpine lake in the US just 17 miles south of us, this pond is but a water spot on the map! My neighbors call it "the bog." I think they miss what a lively place it is. Just stepped back inside after watching the geese paddle in the midst of rising fish. Two turtles emerged on the log today and I heard a killdeer. Bootsy is so noisy, meowing, that she announces her presence just fine. This morning she sat on my lap and robins bounced across the peat in front of us! I've heard of herons fishing out pond koy! This one does a number on the bull frogs and fish. We also get King fishers and osprey once they arrive from Costa Rica -- about May.

  4. LOVE the birds! :-) The geese, of course, and your heron. (Lovely haiku about him, too.) And I can't leave out your other animals. What a beautiful place. Thanks for including the pictures with your story. Every time I see your "pond", it makes me happy.

    1. I get my full bird-nerd on this time of year! I drove out to the delta where the Clark Fork River meets Lake Pend Oreille and it is full of migrating tundra swans. To listen to them whistle is incredible. Back on the pond front, the geese are landing solo or in pairs and leaving. Hoping one goose couple will stay and raise a brood! Saw two turtles sunning yesterday on the log in the pond. And I grilled for dinner tonight! I love this time of year!

  5. 'My knight in blue feathers' that Charli! And Elmira Pond is indeed springing into life, how wonderful. Love the photos, and had to chuckle at the one of Boots, so happy to roll around on the earth. Lovely Haiku too, for your Lancelot :-) I love visiting you at your pond, I always feel so calm but alive with all the wild life and the seasons unfolding. I love being by the water. On the Norfolk Broads we saw a lot of Herons - grey herons I believe - and I adore all the water fowl, especially at spring time with all the ducklings and signets. Lovely post Charli, thank you for this glorious update :-)

    1. There is something so calming about water and the life it attracts. I'm sure you have many fabulous bodies of water, and of course, the ocean! Blue Heron is somehow heroic in my imagination. He has a warrior's prowess and a dashing look. Though, he molts in late summer and stands on the turtle log picking his feathers! He's more of a gray heron after that. :-) Thanks for visiting the pond!