"Patience is my name"
Some years ago a pair of bald eagles decimated the Great Blue Heron colony in Beacon Hill Park here in James Bay, Victoria, BC. They did it ‘Rambo’-style. So we missed those tide pool fishers, but they’re back. Great Blue Heron nests are placed high up in the trees, but ashore they appear to stand forever in the shallows, or on a rock, awaiting their meal to show up.
The shoreline here is strewn with driftwood and logs after winter storms. One section has a quiet, pebbled beach and nearby is a bit of sandy beach, very small. That’s where visitors spend time with children or dogs, with the odd person brave enough to dip into the cold waters. The herons are far from this crowded beach.
These prehistoric creatures stand like statues or mime performers a la Marcel Marceau. An octogenarian with time galore, this morning I decided to go and watch once again these long-beaked fishers at our shore. Years ago, we were fortunate to have a teacher who taught patience. So now I intended to put my patience to the test. Settling quietly on a log, I waited together with the herons. There were two, some 15 metres apart. Standing like sentinels with alert eyes, beaks down, gazing into the tide pool, ready to catch a fish.
Breakfast for me and my chicks
You could see, ever so slightly, a tiny movement of the beak, while their legs stayed still. A picture of rapt attention. Over two hours, their catch was 4 fish.
Off home, that's it for this morning
Then the winged master of patience took flight, direction Beacon Hill Park. Thought we’d share this experience. Unlike we humans who let millions of children go hungry or perish, Great Blue Herons ensure their young do not go hungry - such is their instinct and timeless survival ritual, helped by a tremendous dose of patience.
Henri van Bentum