Thursday, February 03, 2005

assorted bird plumage

A great Blue Heron stands about 4 feet tall, about 20 feet away from me, trying to act nonchalant. He's eyeing a trout which I caught which flips on the walkway, shining in the glow from the yellow lights of the bridge above. The heron stands in profile, pretending to look out into the bay and not at my trout, but every few seconds he inches closer.
He was there earlier. Somehow, I didn't notice him land behind me as I was casting, and he was picking live shrimp out of my bait bucket, live shrimp that cost $4 a dozen here. I walked towards him and he flew away, bleating and squawking.
The trout looks good enough to him that he stays put, even as I walk towards him. He stands his ground defiant, showing no fear, until I get too close for comfort and he flies.
I caught a ladyfish, shiny, silver, flopping, flapping, flipping on deck. I got nervous about my trout disapearing so I took them to the truck. I saw the heron on the catwalk out of the corner of my eye from the parking lot and when I returned, the ladyfish was gone.

This afternoon I was wade fishing. My bait bucket was on the beach. A little egret, with his lacy feather tendrils puffed in the breeze stood vigil next to my bait bucket, wisely closed.
In the history or nature, over thousands, millions of years of evolution, shore birds have somehow put together in their mind that good food comes from white and yellow buckets near fishermen. When I came to shore he was still there. I sat down and he stared me down, not five feet away from me. He was so white and beautiful. I wanted to give him a shrimp but I didn't want to encourge the vicious circle of feeding wild animals, bad for them, bad for us.
I pulled my line in and took the shrimp off and threw it into the water, nonchalantly myself, just innocently throwing it away into the water where it belongs. My egret friend lunged after it, picked it up in his beak and strutted away. In thousands, millions of years, humans can't resist pretty and cute.

On the sanibel pier, two egrets were mating, I think. They knocked and locked beaks while leaping. The wind was ferocious, so every time they leaped up in the air, the wind carried them over our heads, like crouching egrets and hidden herons magically zooming over our heads, looked in some gravity defying combat.

and speaking of old birds...today I shook hands with George McGovern. He was larger than life, eating a ceasar salad on a windy afternoon at an outdoor cafe, wearing a black pinstriped suit.
It's funny how famous people are so distinctive. There's probably hundreds of old men who look just like him, but no one looks like him, even years and years after I last saw any image of him.

2 Comments:

Blogger jeffrey said...

cool egret story. one the one side one can say that they get used to our presence. on the other, i read about places where no humans have previously gone (history books,not many left now); the animals show no fear, until bad things start happening to them.

7:51 AM  
Blogger moi said...

". . . every time they leaped up in the air, the wind carried them over our heads, like crouching egrets and hidden herons magically zooming over our heads" . . . How lovely! And so are your words, like crouching locutions and hidden notions cheerfully spinning inside our heads.

12:13 PM  

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