Tuesday, June 05, 2007

City Life: Heron

I was walking my dog in Golden Gate Park this past Sunday evening when I noticed a small family staring at something. As I got closer I saw just a few feet away, a Great Blue Heron. Great Blue Herons are impressive birds. Large and leggy, they stand up to four feet tall.

Oddly enough the heron was standing in part of a field, a part of the baseball field to be exact. Most of the time it seems that herons stick close to the water.

I shorted my dog's leash so we could walk past the bird without scaring it. As I moved past with my dog, the mother turned and looked at me.

"He just ate a gopher."


"He just ate a gopher. We saw him do it. He's still trying to swallow it down. You can see the lump in his throat." She was blonde and grinning broadly with lovely crinkles around her eyes, obviously amazed. The entire family was transfixed. They were a friendly family, all wearing blue high-end fleece jackets.

I stopped and stared at the big bird, "Was it a big gopher?" She nodded.

Gophers in Golden Gate Park tend to be huge and fat. I wondered how the heron was able to get a hold of it. I know their beaks are formidable. A few years ago, there was a news report that a heron had stabbed a man in the heart with his beak, killing him, when the man got too close trying while trying to take a close up picture of the bird.

"Why don't I have my camera with me?" I wondered aloud in frustration. I would have liked to share that picture with all of you. A Great Blue Heron standing on the grass with a baseball game going on in the background. I watched him for a little while longer, but my dog was pulling me along so we moved on.

When I looked back the family was still standing there.

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