The little blue fishing boat that often plies the Lake waters near my place was out early this morning, harvesting from the nets. It’s a pleasure to have one’s pre-dawn sleep prematurely ended by the soft putter of the boat engine, and the drifting cries of circling gulls. So I got up to watch in the waxing light. I could also hear the men talking to each other as they worked. Their exact words didn’t carry over the surface, just the laughter and the jocular tone. A lone great blue heron looped around the boat as well, not as agile as the gulls, with a much larger turning radius, but just as eager to snatch a fish if possible.
Last summer I watched a great blue teach itself how to fish using the nets. It had learned that the marker flags meant nets below, and would hover as best it could over the floats, until it gently, awkwardly, touched down. If it started to sink, it would flap and lift itself and “tread” around until it could get a float under its body, and then sit on the water like a huge long-necked grebe with an oversized beak. Once in position, the heron could put its long neck into the water and grab the netted fish at leisure. Then when all the fish in reach were eaten, it would rise up with those beautiful slow heron wing-beats, and fly off to find a rock to stand and preen on, I suppose.
Heron photo from Wikimedia Commons