The rapacious stillness of the heron*

Herons seem to be a part of our lives.  It’s a rare week when we don’t spot one flying languidly along the river, or waiting on an exposed rock for the next snack.

Wherever we travel, we can go heron spotting.   We’ve seen them in Dordrecht in the Netherlands, Córdoba in southern Spain, l’Albufera near Valencia, and Busan in South Korea.  Town and country: herons are there.

We see them as we walk along the path towards West Tanfield, and spot them on the garden pond.

The other day after a stressful week, I needed a bit of space.  Nosterfield Nature Reserve just up the road was the answer.  I walked along the wetland paths watching water birds courting, feeding, simply being there, standing motionless or swimming peacefully.  Quiet fields formed the backdrop.

Nosterfield Nature Reserve, spotted through a hide.

I went to the farthest hide.  I became transfixed by the under-stated drama being played out between a heron and two or three egrets.  They were fishing.  All plodded gracefully in and out of what humans might see as each other’s personal space.  They didn’t care or even seem to notice one another. They simply co-existed, fishing.

This is what first caught my eye….and then I zoomed in closer…..

This series of pictures might not seem that different one from another.  They’re a record of a simple afternoon in the lives of a heron, three egrets ….. and me.

Click on any image to view full size.

* The Crow Road: Iain Banks


Author: margaret21

I'm retired and living in North Yorkshire, where I walk as often as I can, write, volunteer, and travel as often as I can.

19 thoughts on “The rapacious stillness of the heron*”

  1. I’m fond of herons. Their necks, beaks and shoulders are so expressive. You’ve made me think of fishermen I’ve seen communing with the river. Perhaps that’s part of the appeal of fishing – to be able to do it like the heron.

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  2. Your Nosterfield walk looks to have been very soothing–just what the doctor ordered? I find herons fascinating, too. We live right at the edge of wetlands and always have herons close by–I love seeing their silhouettes against a darkening sky. When my mother lived in Florida, they had a heron who would walk right into their sunroom to get a hot dog . . .

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  3. Hope things are less stressful this week – you know where I am if you want to escape for a while!
    When I see herons I always think about Dylan Thomas’s wonderful description – “the heron priested shore”.


  4. I too am fond of herons. We have an occasional visiting egret in the garden, no idea why as our stream is only home to the odd stickleback. I hope your walk had the desired effect and that you are feeling a little less stressed now. Lx


  5. Beautiful pictures of avian harmony. We are in the Nene Valley at the moment and are astounded at the number of Red Kites. We see several every day and they fly really low, often harassed by crows. A spectacular sight!

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  6. A simple afternoon can sometimes be the most special, and the most healing. Finding that quiet spot and just observing without agenda. I hope it gave you some calming respite, Margaret.

    As for herons and egrets themselves, I park in the same spot in order to walk along the river whenever I pop into Looe. I start opposite the tree in which the herons have nested, to be joined in time by the egrets. The trees are too leafy now and the nests are hidden but I hope eventually to see the youngsters in the shallows. That short walk from car to sea never fails to lift my spirits.


  7. Interesting to see how cosmopolitan and adaptable herons seems to be. The nature reserve looks lovely and I enjoyed your photos of the birds. What a great and restorative way to spend an afternoon. I find that being in nature and giving over my attention to just watching can bring about such a sense of relief and release as I let go of worries at least for a bit. Its like a form of meditation that quiets the mind and enables one to re-calibrate. I hope you get more chances to do that more often.
    The title of your post is intriguing – I will be looking up Iain Banks, thanks.


  8. I like the title of your post. I haven’t read any Iain Banks but he is recommended by both my husband and my mother; most surprising, as they are as chalk and cheese usually!
    I hope the walk did the trick; I am often in need of space so can sympathise. I often surprise a heron on our pond and it’s explosive lift off surprises me! They are elegant birds in repose, while walking in the shallows like ballet dancers and in flight with their folded necks.

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    1. No, they do get everywhere don’t they? But ours are bothered by humans. If they see one nearby, they’ll heave themselves into the air and flap away down river.

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  9. Are the herons larger egrets? I think during my stay in UK we only ever spoke of herons, but that was probably rather because I spoke French with Hero Husband because we also sighted many a times the egrets…. Just jumps back to my mind.
    A lovely collection here and I see that uncomplicated co-existence of those waterbirds – peaceful until the fishermen come and swear at them stealing their livelihood!

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  10. Amazing info here. Thank You. Names are probably French, as we (HH) call(s) them héron and egret….. but that they’re called shitepokes…. that’s really the best. And that detail about the 6th retracting vertrebrae – glorious info, goes right in my unlimited fundus of Fascinating/but/totally/Useless/Trivia.

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