Water, Earth, Sky

Scott Shenk writes about the environment.

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My encounter with a great blue (heron)

As I was preparing today’s story about a Center for Conservation Biology aerial  survey of great blue heron colonies along the Chesapeake Bay, I got to thinking about the late-fall  day a couple years back  when I was fishing for stocked trout at the Old Cossey Pond here in Fredericksburg. I kept my fly rod in the car so I could get in a few casts after work before it got dark. I fished for about 10 minutes, with no luck, when a great blue landed not 20 feet away from me in the water along the bank. Within about 30 seconds, the usually shy giant stabbed its beak into the weeds, pulling out a thrashing 10-inch rainbow. Pretty good, I thought to myself. I stopped fishing and watched. Within five minutes, the heron, with no fishing equipment except a beak and a brain, had caught four (the daily limit for trout in the pond, by the way). Then, with a horrendous squawk, it flew off. I didn’t get a bite, but it was one of my best days ever on the water.

Staff Photographer Pete Cihelka got this great shot of a great blue heron catching a fish in the Rappahannock River.