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Sat, 20 Apr 2013

White faced heron, evening


I walked back from the city via the Botanic Gardens. As you leave the gardens, heading towards the hospital and then to Frome Street, there is a small patch of boggy ground, a bit of a ditch. It's filled with sedges, and has water a few inches deep. It drains into First Creek, just a short distance away. But there's still water here, enough to attract a white faced heron and, a few moments later, a family of Australian wood ducks.


It is the heron that catches my eye. I have my camera, and the heron isn't that far away. Even with my lens, I should be able to get a picture. The path crosses the boggy ground, with a small wood bridge that's maybe less than a foot high. It's getting onto evening, but the sky is still light, and the last of the sunlight is yellow gold, where it gets through gaps between trees and buildings. Mostly the area is in shadow.

I take photos: the heron is a bit of a distance away, striding purposefully, hunting for food in the shallow water. I'm not sure what he's getting: perhaps tadpoles, or newts, or maybe small water insects. They seem plentiful here. It seems an odd shelter for wildlife, overshadowed by tall hospital buildings, but we're just on the edge of the parkland. The water reflects the trees, still lit by the last of the sun.

The heron comes closer, apparently unafraid. I try to be quiet, but my camera is a little noisy. Not enough to scare him, it seems. I crouch down slightly so I am less of a threat. He's really very close: just a few feet away. He seems unconcerned. There are other people a short distance off, but it seems a world away. It's like a spell: a sense of calm, me watching the heron, the heron unconcernedly hunting for supper.


Repositioning myself into a more comfortable position -- changing from squatting to kneeling -- I inadvertently strike the ground with my foot, and the heron's off. The spell is broken. He heads off behind me, across the path, and over to water on the other side of the bridge. Slowly, I move to that side of the bridge, moving backwards again if I seem to startle him.

I get more photos: here, he just has a touch of that last bit of buttery sunlight on him. Not much, maybe, but something. He heads back across the bridge, to where he was earlier, when I broke that spell. I move in closer again, slowly, trying not to startle him. After a few more minutes, I decide I should leave him to feed in peace. I have my photos, but more important, the sense of calm that you get from spending time just being quiet and watching another animal. A quietude where other concerns are pushed back, for a space. What could matter more than that?


posted at: 14:34 | path: /wildlife | permanent link to this entry

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