On a Beach Walk: No. 11

I like walking the beach as it is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Ahead of me stands a Great Blue Heron – standing still and staring out to sea. Sometimes on the dry sand away from the constant waves. Other times at the water’s edge as water laps over the talons.

No matter where, the heron stares. Not pondering the meaning of life. Not reflecting on life, friends, or children. Undoubtedly working to find the next meal – so the heron patiently stands and stares.

The heron is watching for a struggling fish or crustacean in the shallow water. Standing with its neck coiled and a sharp beak – and together they serve as a sharp dagger action of a harpoon. When the heron walks, it does so slow as it doesn’t want to alarm its prey. But the heron is most commonly seen standing and staring – and all alone.

Some days the heron allows me to walk relatively close, while slowing stepping away. Other times as I approach, the heron flies ahead to a new spot – only to be disrupted as I again approach his new domain. The pattern repeats before the heron flies away to find a new spot to stand and stare all alone.

Some days I see the heron from afar – standing and staring all alone – and no humans nearby. Other times the heron patiently stands and stares at the sea, but with a fisherman – for the heron knows the likely source of the next meal and a possible feast for the day. Now that’s one smart bird.

The fisherman stands to tend the pole that appears to have a fish on the line – this heightens the heron’s attention. The fisherman walks away with his catch – but the heron follows. After freeing the fish from the hook, the fisherman tosses his unwanted fish toward the heron – who slowly approaches, then quickly uncoils its adaptive neck and beak to spear its prey – then swallows it whole.

The heron using its adaptations to survive and eventually produce other Great Blue Herons so the tradition continues over time. After all, the heron is design for a specific role in nature – just like all other living things in the nature that surrounds us.

We live in a self-maintaining wonderful creation that is a mere speck in the grand universe. There is so much to ponder as I walk the beach – a walk that is good for the mind and soul as water refreshes my feet.

45 thoughts on “On a Beach Walk: No. 11

    • Debra,
      Your travels brings many bird species to you. I discovered that there are 6 species of herons in Italy (but not the GBH) … so I simply wonder which in Bagni’s beautiful valley.

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  1. Hello Frank! That was a nice wander with you and your herons. I always enjoy watching a sea bird going about its business when I enter its domain. We saw sea lions yesterday – no doubt coming in to birth their young and enjoy some wallowing on the warming sand. I have to leash Siddy at these times, just in case he decides they are potential new friends…….

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      • We have an indigenous white heron known as the ‘kotuku’ which is endangered as it was hunted for its feathers almost to extinction and now lives and breeds in a protected nature reserve. We also have several varieties of introduced heron and egrets. There was a family of grey herons that lived in a quiet inlet by my previous home and I would often see my cat Orlando (who loves water) wandering along the water line accompanied by a couple of tall birds. Now that was an odd friendship – or tolerance, I’m not sure which.

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  2. Mrs Bryntin has compared me to being the human embodiment of a Heron. Seem to be perfectly still and doing absolutely nothing, even on close inspection, then, bam, there’s food and suddenly there’s action.

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  3. For me, No. 11 with its Great Blue Heron patiently working for its survival, stands out as your most poetic beach walk yet. I especially liked:

    “No matter where, the heron stares. Not pondering the meaning of life. Not reflecting on life, friends, or children. Undoubtedly working to find the next meal – so the heron patiently stands and stares.”

    It reminded me of John Dunbar in the movie “Dances With Wolves” saying after the Sioux tribe he was with had defeated the marauding Pawnee:

    “It was hard to know how to feel. I had never been in a battle like this one. This had not been a fight for territory or riches or to make men free. This battle had no ego. It had been fought to preserve the food stores that would see us through winter, to protect the lives of women and children and loved ones only a few feet away.”

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  4. What a beautiful post, Frank. I could feel the sand and surf and hear the peaceful energy that lives at the beach and always fills me with joy. The heron is a beautiful bird and I always feel a special relationship with the shore birds. I try to walk a little distance from them so as not to disturb their feeding, but I do try to get as close as possible simply to admire them!

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    • Debra,
      Thanks for the kind words about this post. I know the GBH is found over a wide swath of our country, but are they in SoCal? Along with your point about the shorebirds, an interesting point is to consider the variety of feeding habits.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Marina,
      Cheers to another who enjoys the beach walks! I miss them too because I drafted this series in January! … A full moon indeed as last night we saw a large, beautiful moon as it was starting it’s daily trek in the eastern sky.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for this wonderful walk, Frank. I love watching herons and I don’t think I’ve ever seen one on the beach (ocean side — I’ve seen them on the bay side). The music was lovely too. A good way to start my day. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Robin,
    Thanks for walking along as I know you enjoy a peaceful walk in nature. I think I saw a heron on the beach (last January) every day … and if not every day, certainly most days. GBH is an interesting creature.

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  7. I do miss my beach walks, but am so grateful for our resident Great Blue Heron who regularly visits our backyard. He is so graceful and very patient, as you say. I love watching him, and am always glad when he gets a good catch. I do feel sorry for the poor fish though. 😦

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  8. We do live in a self-maintaining system, assuming we do not mess with it too much. Of course, even if we mess with it, it will still eventually get back to some sort of balance, only this new balance might not necessarily include us or herons. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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