09 August 2011

Over my head

perfect form
Early during steamy Day 2 of the MS-150, I was pedaling along a rather scenic country road when what appeared to be a great blue heron soared into view. What caught my eye were the numerous smaller birds, perhaps grackels, dive bombing the bigger bird.

I thought it was a little late in the season for nest raiding, but also, I didn't think herons were known for devouring eggs of smaller species. I watched with interest as the low-flying giant attempted to break free from the chain of naggers right on his/her tail. I also noticed the heron's neck wasn't laid back as a typical heron's would be.

As the graceful bird swooped right over my head, perhaps 13 to 15 feet higher than the top of my helmet, I thought this was no heron. What I thought were dangling legs, typical of a wader, was a silvery black snake, and the reptile was still attempting to curl!

mmmmmA thorough description of the experience failed to garner any identification speculation on a local birding forum, although my tale did entertain a member or two. A little bit of research of my own finally confirmed my henpecked bird was indeed a heron.

I should have known great blue herons are carnivorous. I've stalked them fishing many times, and I once caught one in the act of devouring a live catch. But snakes? Yes, indeed. Who needs bugs when you can enjoy snakes, small mammals and frogs? Herons are even known to bait their prey. Smart birds.

Turns out herons fly with neck extended when under attack. I guess you could say this guy or gal was under attack...

He or she had just scored a huge gourmet, and the smaller birds wanted breakfast, too!

And all I had was a camera phone and a Nikon without a zoom lens. Darn it, I knew I should have carried my monster lens!!!

Mine!  ALL mine!


  1. This post has a metaphorical feel. (The title especially.)

    So I guess the moral would be: Take the best shot you can with the equipment you have available.

    (And be willing to try new foods.) :)

    Have a good day and be sure to read my post. You're in my thoughts and prayers this morning.

  2. Well you did extremely well with the camera phone!

    I spotted a Blue Heron this morning on the way home from the NCR Bike Trail. It was flying low and slow and I also wished I'd brought my camera and my monopole.

    Next time.

    Thanks for sharing the tale!

  3. I have a vague memory of seeing one with a snake. Got to say that the top photo stirred the artist in me

  4. Proof positive that the magic of photography lies in the twelve inches BEHIND the camera.

    Your shots capture the movement, the flight and the moment- perfectly.


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