Sunday, August 11, 2019

Around the island: great blue heron nest

Last Thursday morning we were waiting for the ferry “Salish” to finish offloading cars/passengers at Keystone Landing in Coupeville. An extremely foggy morning. We were going to walk aboard, arrive in Port Townsend 40 minutes later, and just walk around town for a few hours.

I’d heard there was a great blue heron nest on one of the pilings next to the ferry, but that the chicks were going to fledge “any day now.” And yes, as I stood at the landing, there were the pilings, there were the four chicks. The ferry (the green bit in the upper right) was offloading at this point.

Let me blow up this photo somewhat so you can see the birds a bit closer.

Apparently, according to a knowledgable woman, the adults fly off when the ferry arrives, and return with food once the coast is clear — literally, when the coast is clear.

And there they are, all four chicks, hunkered together. One markedly larger than the others. (You know it’s a bad photo when you have to put an arrow pointing to the subject!)

Once aboard, I took the stairs up to the top deck, only to find I couldn’t get quite as close as I wished, but it was still pretty amazing to see.

One of the chicks was having a very bad hair day. I could relate.

The adult heron had the ferry schedule memorized. As soon as the boat began departing the landing, she swooped in, neck swollen with tasty fish, and prepared to feed the chicks. The ferry departs surprisingly quickly, and seconds later the birds were well beyond my lens.

Terrific start to a very good morning in the Pacific Northwest.

Images copyright ©Carol Leigh 2019