Published On: Wed, Jun 10th, 2015

BACKYARD BIRDING IN MERIDA, YUCATAN AND BEYOND – EAT, PREY, LOVE: GREAT BLUE HERON

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Cherie Pittillo, “nature inspired,” zoologist, photographer, and author, explores nature everywhere she goes. She’s identified 53 bird species in her Merida, Yucatan backyard view. Her column, published on the 7th and 21st of each month, features anecdotes about birding in Merida, Yucatan and beyond.     

Contact: all4birdies@gmail.com  All rights reserved, ©Cherie Pittillo

 

Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias

At one of Merida’s parks, Parque Ecologico del Poniente, residents and visitors can enjoy walking the upper and lower trails. By the way, expats call it Eco Park, while the locals named it, Parque Hundido, the sunken park, because of the lower level. This former rock quarry offers a fish pond on the lower path for those who want to meander its shores. Visitors cannot fish or swim there, but this Great Blue Heron didn’t obey the sign.

Great Blue Heron ignored no swimming sign

Great Blue Heron ignored no swimming sign

At first, it seemed the heron planned to spear the turtle. Somehow the turtle knew it wasn’t on the menu. Instead the heron readied to launch, grab, and plunge.

Great Blue Heron stalked prey

Great Blue Heron stalked prey

Great Blue Heron eased into position to capture prey

Great Blue Heron eased into position to capture prey

Great Blue Heron prepared to swim if necessary to grab prey

Great Blue Heron prepared to swim if necessary to grab prey

SUCCESS! This four foot high stealth stalker grabbed the small fish in its bill and plunged into the water belly high. It wasn’t a ballet high nor Bali High, however. Maybe this tall bird felt uncomfortable in that depth of water and waded back to its table rock. (Luckily, this fish pond lacked the native Morelet’s Crocodiles, the more or less friendly crocs.)

Success! Great Blue Heron plunged in water to gnab prey

Success! Great Blue Heron plunged in water to gnab prey

Great Blue Heron waded to a stable surface to dine on its catch

Great Blue Heron waded to a stable surface to dine on its catch

Great Blue Heron used it wings to escape water depth

Great Blue Heron used it wings to escape water depth

On solid “ground”, the heron rearranged the fish to swallow it head first. After its meal, the heron skipped to the top of the rock to rest for a bit. Although I didn’t include the turtle in all of the photos, it seemed to watch the heron during each one of the meal maneuvers. Both appeared to gaze in the same direction after the heron ate. Maybe it was eat, prey, love.

Great Blue Heron rearranged fish to swallow it head first

Great Blue Heron rearranged fish to swallow it head first

After it ate, the Great Blue Heron skipped up to top of rock to digest its prey

After it ate, the Great Blue Heron skipped up to top of rock to digest its prey

Both the turtle and heron seemed to gaze in the same direction The turtle watched all the meal maneuvers of the bird Perhaps they were friends who eat, prey, love

Both the turtle and heron seemed to gaze in the same direction The turtle watched all the meal maneuvers of the bird Perhaps they were friends who eat, prey, love

GO OUTDOORS WITH A FRIEND TO PLUNGE INTO NATURE’S WONDERS.

Mexico Travel Care

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  1. Debbie Moore says:

    One of my favorites! Thanks, Cherie!

  2. Dan Pittillo says:

    With the size of the GBH, you can appreciate that neighbor here in western North Carolina strings a rope or wire across his trout pond. Birds have enough sense of their abilities in small ponds where they CAN fish to realize that even if it could land in a small one here, there is not enough room to take off with wet feathers and a barrier in the flight take-off line. So, neighbors do this to encourage our resident Great Blues to fish in the river or larger reservoirs.

  3. Cherie Pittillo says:

    Glad to receive more information about this formidable fish catcher and that small pond owners have an option to keep it away from their ponds instead of killing it.

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