“…We had a fine view of a blue heron, standing erect and open to view on a meadow island, by the great swamp south of the bridge, looking as broad as a boy on the side, and then some sheldrakes sailing in the smooth water beyond. These soon sailed behind points of meadow. … When the heron takes to flight, what a change in size and appearance! It is presto change! There go two great undulating wings pinned together, but the body and neck must have been left behind somewhere.”
— Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), Journal, April 15, 1855.
I saw a scene very much like the one Thoreau described, on a wet day in November at a small park in my area. I had driven into the area to see what ducks might be there, but my attention was completely drawn to the large Great Blue Heron that stood like a sentinel on the grassy edge:
As I snapped photos, a pair of mallards sailed by, just like the sheldrakes (common mergansers) that Thoreau had noted. When I read that diary entry today, I remembered my photos of the heron and the mallards, so here they are.
And here’s a short video of the heron preening. You can hear the rushing water in the nearby stony stream.