Sunday, 24 August 2008

Venus Pool - Heron 'Nasty' (x-cert)

It was a quiet Sunday afternoon, little of note was about and I was idly surveying the scene from the North hide.....

Before I continue, I should point out that what follows is not very nice and took me totally by surprise - so, ignore the pictures if you are squeamish or if you don't like to witness the apparent 'heartless' side of nature at work!

What do Herons eat? Well, fish, amphibians and small mammals are the norm but they will eat small birds! One such small bird - a full sized juvenile Little Grebe ventured too close to that dagger like bill.

The commotion that followed with just about every bird nearby trying to distract/rescue the youngster instantly drew my attention! At first I thought it had caught a large fish so the camera was poised ready. I then realised, this 'fish' had legs, feathers and was frantically flapping about. The Heron purposefully strode to the shore and went about his gruesome business....

This was the worst bit, the Grebe was fully mobile and tried vainly to escape at least twice, only to be dragged back again....

Then, several lethal strikes with the bill and it was all over.

I was thinking to myself, this kill was just a reflex urge, the Heron couldn't possibly eat the Grebe? Oh dear, how wrong I was to be proved - this next stage took three or four minutes to complete.
Whether the repeated dunking and soaking of the bird was to aid swallowing, I don't know....

Eventually, after retreating into the middle of the island, the legs and feet disappeared and that rather large bulge in the Heron's neck was gone - I don't think he ate again that day?

I checked the timings from the image files. The whole sequence took just under ten minutes to complete. Birdguides has featured a 'kill' as POTW for the past two weeks, showing just how powerful such images are. I'm glad I kept firing bursts throughout to record the moment but couldn't help feeling so sorry and helpless for the poor Little Grebe - lets move on to a cute image next?

1 comment:

  1. Wow, i've never heard of that before! Been looking at your blog for a while now and It's brilliant! All your photos are amazing.
    Do you mind if I link your blog to mine?
    Josh J Shaw