Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Green Heron, Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve

Catching a fish is an acquired skill, even for a Green Heron.

When I turned around, this juvenile Green Heron was marching up the boardwalk towards me. 

I was at the Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve, north of Milwaukee, south of Port Washington and along Lake Michigan’s shoreline.

Unaware of me when he landed, he began patrolling the edge of the boardwalk intent on catching something good to eat in the water. Green Herons have a surprisingly long neck when it's not tucked into a football-sized compact body.

Being a juvenile, he may have not yet figured out how he was going to land a fish or a frog from the boardwalk. I'm not sure he'd thought this through, as this would present a new challenge for him.   

Never mind, strolling the boardwalk is easier.

He occasionally peered over the edge, excited by movement in the weeds and water.  Whatever he was looking at  was well out of his reach, so he may have just been reacting on instinct or testing out his stalking techniques for use later.

Stepping along the boardwalk he’d replay the same stop and stare stance over and over, contracting his neck each time in reconsideration.  I suspect this was an exercise somewhere between practice and play.

Meanwhile, an adult Green Heron was hiding behind a nearby tree.  I have no knowledge of these two Green Herons' relationship, but I’d like to think it could be an adult parent still keeping an eye on an offspring.  It’s an observation and a reasonable speculation, but totally unfounded.

Someday junior here will share the blue, green and wine colors of adulthood, but for now he’s still in his adolescent plumage.

More camouflaged than colorful, this may be a 1st year individual.  His camouflage would serve him better if he weren’t strutting down the boardwalk though, but he'll learn someday.  He looks to be well-fed, independent and somewhat capable of fishing on his own.