Living near the largest great blue heron rookery in western North American, it's not unusual to see these gangly birds sailing over my neighborhood on their way to feed in the bay below my home.
Five years ago, while looking for bald eagles, we accidentally discovered another heron feeding area on the Lumni Reservation about forty miles north of here. A manmade dike had been constructed to control flooding and provide the reservation with a fish hatchery. As we drove over the four-mile dike, clouds of blue herons took flight in mass. It was a scene I would never forget.
Last week we decided to pay the area another visit just to see if it had changed. This time, instead of intruding with our car, we parked and hiked along the top of the dike. For the first mile or so, the area appeared avoid of bird life. The path had become overgrown, some of the shrubs waist-high. We bushwhacked our way through into a clearing only to see that another overgrown area awaiting us about fifty yards ahead. Then the shrubs began to move, to the left, then to the right, and I realized what we were seeing was a colony of blue herons roosting right in front of us. There must have been around a hundred of these spindly long-legged birds milling around. I was traveling light that day and didn't have my camera, but I was pleased that the herons provided me with another scene I could store in my memory.
Oh, the photo I posted at the top? Taken in a Louisiana swamp last February.