Years ago, in the third season of Star Trek the Next Generation, an episode with this strange title aired. I had to look up the synopsis of the actual episode since I haven’t seen it in years. Unlike my favorite Star Trek episode of all time, “The Inner Light”, I had only retained the most basic of remembrances of this particular episode. And why bring this up now?
A few days ago, on an early Sunday morning, I took another early morning walk at Huntley Meadows. There were quite a few photographers out there at half past six in the morning. What were people taking pictures of? Birds, birds, birds. More specifically, egrets and herons. I had the feeling that there would be quite a few people at the wildlife area.
The day before, I also took a morning walk at Huntley. For a Saturday morning, there were more than a dozen photographers at the start of the day. Normally, you see five or six photographers in the early morning but last Saturday was different. Someone had taken a picture of a fox walking on a log to take a drink of water on the wetlands. It probably happens quite a bit all over the world. In suburban Virginia, fifteen miles from Washington, you don’t see that very often. And someone posted the pictures in the Huntley Meadows Facebook page. Needless to say, there were a lot of people looking for the fox. Alas, we saw nothing that looked like a fox. Saw quite a few birds, but the fox was AWOL.
Sunday came and I went back to Huntley to look for kingfishers. The water is getting shallower as the rains have not come and the heat of the summer is taking its toll on the wetlands. I heard the kingfisher’s call, but I could not find it. There were, however, a lot of egrets and herons in the wetlands. Like everyone else, I took a lot of pictures of a fairly large group of birds in the water.
About an hour and a half after I got to Huntley, I was looking at a group of photographers when one of them exclaimed “it got a fish!” Instinctively, I walked over by the group of photographers and saw heron catching its morning meal (probably one of many). A good picture taking opportunity, but the photographers were so engaged in photographing the bird that for five or so minutes, all we could look at is this heron with a fish.
The heron, with it’s catch.
The fish was quite active and the heron wasn’t quite ready to eat its meal. It lifted it up, as if to see if the fish was still actively moving. It was.
The heron turned around and started to brush the fish over the log.
After a minute or so of this, the fish had “calmed” down and the heron was a happy fish eater.
This was the first time I actually watched the whole sequence of “catch and eat.” It was “fascinating.”