Rickubis Bird Page #6: Herons!
This page was born 05/07/2012.  Rickubis designed it.  (such as it is.) Last update: 03/19/2017
Images and contents on this page copyright 2002-2017 Richard M. Dashnau 

Here are my other Brazos Bend and/or critter pages:
 ----------------------------------------------------------------                  OR,  FOR OTHER ANIMALS:
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Introduction            Critters at Brazos Bend State Park Page 1
Snakes-nonvenomous 1-------------------------------------------Critters at Brazos Bend State Park Page 3
Snakes-nonvenomous 2-------------------------------------------------Insects, non-toxic
Snakes-nonvenomous 3------------------------------------------------Spiders
Snakes-venomous------------------------------------------------------Mammals
Birds-Waders Hawks & Eagles-Anhingas & Comorants - -------Lizards!--Turtles!
 Grebes -Misc. Birds  Bitterns  Pelicans
Vultures    Owls & Falcons

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Welcome to Brazos Bend State Park. That's me on the trail. One of the most popular reasons for people to visit BBSP is to see the birds. Although *I* started going to the park mainly for the alligators, one cannot be there for long without learning to enjoy the birds. Over the years, I've captured a few pictures and video clips of them, and here they are. 

03/12/2017  The morning was a bit cool at BBSP today. I was up on the Observation Tower at 40 Acre Lake when I started watching a Great Blue Heron that was down in Pilant Lake. I saw the heron catch a Lesser Siren, and I tried for some long-distance shots with the camera. I also shot some video. Then I hurried down to the ground, and I was able to get closer to the heron as it subdued and ate the siren. I've seen events like this on other occasions, and a few of these early example show on the page I have devoted to herons here.  I have also described Lesser Sirens on that page. Below are some images that I shot as photos and some frame-grabs from the video I filmed. The small front legs of the siren show well in some of the images.  The video can be found by following this link.  
       

9/18/2016  I was watching a Great Blue Heron as it squatted on the concrete casing of the floodgate between 40 Acre Lake and Pilant Lake. It would "squat"-intently watching the water-then stand as whatever it wanted
to catch moved away. Finally, it squatted, stabbed, and....came up with a Plecostomus!  These are sometimes called "armored catfish".  I caught some high-speed video as it snatched the fish,
and watched the Heron for 25 minutes as it worked at getting the fish into a position to eat.I filmed and took photos during that time--until a park visitor on a bicycle scared off the heron.
The images below are photos that I took between video clips. The edited version of those clips can be seen here. I have photos and video of a Great Blue Heron eating a plecostomus at an
earlier time further down this page.   This time, I watched as the Heron worked around the challenge of eating this armored prey.  The video shows how the Heron seemed to test the
hardness of the pleco, and also manipulated the fish to expose its softer belly. In other video clips on this page , Herons demonstrate the usual technique of swiftly ramming the
massive, sharp beak into the prey until it stops moving. With the Plecostomus, I only saw one such stab. The Heron did a lot of "probing" with the tips of its bill, and then made short,
powerful thrusts. The Heron did finally succeed in impaling the pleco.

   

   

The first few times I searched the internet for information on Plecostomus and their environmental impact, I hadn't found much. Since then, I found some more information.
First, I have found that plecos can get oxygen directly from the air, but they don't use a lung, or swim bladder. Instead, it appears that they can extract oxygen from
air gulped into their stomach!  Here's one study (at least the abstract):  
"Morphology of the air-breathing stomach of the catfish Hypostomus plecostomus." Podkowa D1, Goniakowska-Witalińska L.  (link is here)
Plecos are interesting and amazing fish. Unfortunately, they are invaders in the Texas ecosystem, and can cause damage. They are pushing out native species of fish, and are
also causing physical changes to the environment by their nesting habits.
This article published 9/15/2016 in the Houston Chronicle describes damage done by plecos and other invasive species (tilapia, grass carp) click this link.
So, cheer for this determined Heron; because he's helping save our environment!

3/06/2016  (posting 9/14/2016)  I was on the Spillway Bridge watching a Tricolored Heron fishing there.  I was able to move behind the Heron without scaring it, so I was able to
"look over its shoulder" with the camera (shooting video at 210fps) as it fished. I captured a wonderful video clip showing the moment a fish (possibly a small Bass) flashed in the water.
This caught the Heron's attention, and the fish (which had probably just eaten) became prey for the heron. The images below are framegrabs from the video clip, which can be seen here.

   

   

   

01/31/2016  Oh no...another invader at the park.
Through the entire month of June, in 2015, a large part of Brazos Bend State park was under water. This water came from the Brazos River and Big Creek. Animal and plant life from the rivers also entered the park.
For example, tilapia were seen in the park right after the water receded. During the months of August, September and October of the same year (2015) I noticed many fish hitting the surface of the water-mostly along the Spillway Trail.
The surfacing fish were numerous, but so quick that I could not tell what they were. So I spent a few weekends trying to shoot high-frame rate video so that I could slow the action down.  When I went through my samples, I found mostly
what I expected. Most of the fish were bowfin or gar (short-nose or spotted gar). But...in a few of the video clips I saw a different fish-and it appeared to be a type of plecostomus. I've got more details with links to the video clips on
my web page here.
It was a bit frustrating then because the video wasn't very clear. I talked with David about this during that summer, and he recalled seeing carcasses of plecostomus after one of our park dry spells in the past. And then....
Last Sunday, I witnessed more proof that Plecostomus are certainly in the park, but this time I caught much better imagery. At about 9am I was on the Spillway Trail, just East of the Observation Tower, when I noticed a Great Blue Heron
about 50 yards away on Pilant Lake. It was eating something dark, and at first I thought it was a Lesser Siren. But when I looked through binoculars I saw that it was eating a large Plecostomus!  So I started shooting, and watched as
the Heron finally swallowed the armored fish. So, here are some images...some are photos, and some are frame grabs from the video clips. I've edited the clips together into this film.

 
Later that day, I talked to David about this, and he had also seen proof of plecos...he told me he'd recently seen the heads of 2 carcasses on the Elm Lake trail.  And now I wonder which of predators could have caught the 2 fish and
left the heads behind. Herons would not have left anything. Alligators probably wouldn't have left *2* heads either. Could Otters be the culprit?
According to various web sources "plecostomus" has become a sort of generic term for a few similar species of fish. They are invasive in Texas. Common Names include "Armored Catfish", "Suckermouth Catfish", and Algae Eaters.
Information on their Texas status is here:
http://texasinvasives.org/animal_database/detail.php?symbol=9 
and here: 
http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/texas/newsroom/texas-by-nature-armored-catfish.xml

April 22, 2012-- Today I had to stay in and around the Nature Center. I was able to spend time on the trails in the morning. Then I returned for a couple hours in the afternoon.
I was able to see some more of our aquatic birds hunting.  First, I watched as a Green Heron perched on a vertical twig. That seemed difficult enough, but then it caught, subdued,
and swallowed a small Bowfin (Amia calva). It seems to me that the Green Heron is perhaps the most acrobatic heron. The images below are from the video clip (18.2mb) that I shot today.
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If that isn't acrobatic enough, here's a Green Heron in another video clip (5.5mb) that I shot in 2010.
Sometimes their hunting behavior is pretty amazing--enough so that when we describe it to park visitors, the visitors look
at us like we are making it up.  For instance--the Green Heron will sometimes use bait while fishing. That is, it will take something interesting (in my experience, an insect), and place
it in the water. After this, it watches the insect as it drifts. If the insect drifts close, it will carefully pick up the insect, and place it further out. The heron is watching the insect,
but also watching for any fish that come up to take the insect. When one does....FISH DINNER! 

April 15, 2012-- Today was a rather quiet day at the park, with the intermittent sun and blustery winds seeming to keep our animals subdued. However, there were a few interesting things to see
in the morning before I came in to do the Creekfield Hike.  After some time in the Nature Center, I decided to go out to look around again. About 3 o'clock, dark clouds off to the West
made me hurriedly bike back towards my car.  I was still near 40 Acre lake, when I saw a Black Crowned Night Heron atop a vertical piece of wood, close to the trail. I stopped to
take a picture or two, and it didn't fly away.
 
Some of us have seen birds at the park fishing and hunting. Sometimes their hunting behavior is pretty amazing--enough so that when we describe it to park visitors, the visitors look
at us like we are making it up.  For instance--the Green Heron will sometimes use bait while fishing. That is, it will take something interesting (in my experience, an insect), and place
it in the water. After this, it watches the insect as it drifts. If the insect drifts close, it will carefully pick up the insect, and place it further out. The heron is watching the insect,
but also watching for any fish that come up to take the insect. When one does....FISH DINNER!
I've got pictures and small video clips on my own page
(http://www.rickubis.com/rick/brazbird6.html) showing a Green Heron using bait in this manner.


Some quick research will show that Black-Crowned Night Herons have also fished this way. But--they also use a variation. Sometimes--if one is lucky--it is possible to see these
Night-Herons performing a very odd activity.  They will very carefully dip just the tip of their open beak into the water--and sort of "flutter" it. That is, they make tiny quick
movements that bring the top and bottom towards each other. I've filmed them doing it before, and it was only after some conversations with folks like Bill, David, and Greg that I
learned that the Black-Crowned Night Herons are also fishing; but they are using their beaks as lures!
Go ahead and laugh. It sounds incredible. My Sibley's Guide to Bird Life and Behavior doesn't mention this particular strategy, but there is some mention of it elsewhere on the Internet.
And then with that sparse reference...there is what I saw. After I took my few pictures, the Black Crowned Night Heron started fishing. And I started filming at 120 frames per second.  
And I caught something quite amazing.  The images on this page are frame grabs from the video clip, which can be seen here: 
video clip (wmv 12mb).  The Park Superintendent has identified
the fish as a Warmouth Bass. Information on the bass can be found at the TPWD site here: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/species/war/


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                 FLUTTERING THE BEAK TIPS                                SOMETHING GRABS THE LOWER JAW!                                    THE HERON LUNGES                                                 THE HERON GRABS!

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                      THE HERON PULLS!                                              WOW! THAT'S A BIG ONE!                                              NOW WHAT DO I DO?

May 16 and May 30, 2010. If you have been walking the trails at Brazos Bend State Park, then you may have noticed crawfish claws (and sometimes legs) lying around the trails. In most cases, just the claws are there. A single pair might not cause much comment, but when there are claws scattered in many places, then it becomes mysterious. After all, where is the the rest of the crawfish? Many of us at the park know that the culprits behind the mystery are various wading birds, and mostly Yellow-Crowned Night Herons. Today's RICKUBISCAM is a full head view of one of them.

While I'm out on the trails, I like to point out the discarded claws to park visitors, and then let them guess why they're there. And then I usually blame the Night Herons. However, I've never really had a good mental image of *how* the Herons remove the claws. Over the last few weeks, I shot some high speed video that cleared it up for me. It appears that the Herons use inertia to de-claw the crawfish.

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            CLAWS ON TRAIL                              READY TO STRIKE                                       THE GRAB                                            GOT ONE!

I've edited together and posted the video online. Images here are frame grabs from the video. When a Heron captures a crawfish, it immediately twists its head from side to site very quickly. This is not like shaking its head from side-to-side (as if saying "no"); but similar to a motion it might do if it was trying to "drill" with its beak. Centrifugal force causes the limbs (and especially the heavier claws) to straighten from the body (this appears to have the added benefit of preventing the crawfish from grabbing the Heron). And the link to the video is here:  Yellow-Crowned Night Herons with Crawfish (wmv. 50 mb)

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                 PASSING IBIS                        DON'T MESS WITH MY FOOD!                        ONE CLAW FLIES                      THE OTHER CLAW FLIES

Along with repositioning of the crawfish for a better leverage against the joints as they spin, the claws sometimes just break off. An alternate method (in the first part of my video) has the Heron grabbing a claw, the "arm", and twisting while holding *that*, with the weight of the crawfish working on the joint. Eventually, one claw after another is broken off and discarded. Sometimes groups of the legs are grabbed, and then hyperextened by the weight of the crawfish's body using the same twisting motion. These break off and are also discarded.  And so, there's video proof of one of our minor mysteries--solved.

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                GRAB THE LEGS                                  SOME LEGS FLY                                  MORE LEGS FLY                             ALMOST READY TO EAT

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                  FOOD TOSS                                   BEAKFUL TENDERIZED                             ONE BIG GULP                               THAT WAS GOOD!

The Heron doesn't always win, though.  The images below are frame grabs from another clip. The Night Heron grabbed the crawfish and immediately dropped it. The crawfish submerged, and the Heron never touched that one again. What happened? I looks like the crawfish grabbed the Heron's bottom jaw. This made the Heron let go.It didn't bother that crawfish again, but it went hunting for others.

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                           THRUST!                                                      CAUGHT A BIG ONE!                                         TOSS AND GRAB                                                        PINCH!!

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                    OUCH! THAT HURT!                                                THERE IT GOES                                                IT'S FREE!                          the RICKUBISCAM shot
Here's an additional note for those who see this and are living outside of Texas: crawfish = crayfish. (Potay-to Po-TAH-to)  Also, these are "red swamp crawfish"--procambarus clarkii--and YES they are that big, and can get even bigger. They are pretty amazing animals. I've read that they can reproduce parthenogenically; that they can actually come in different colors (including blue); and that they have become an invasive destructive species in some countries--partly because of their habit of burrowing. They can also make thick mud chimneys and dig deep burrows. They are the crawfish that are usually cooked and served in restaurants down here (and probably elsewhere).

02/07/2010  Across Pilant Lake from the Observation Tower (actually near the center of the lake), Great Blue Herons built nests in the trees. From time to time, the Herons will hunt for food near enough to see what they're doing. This morning, one of them landed close enough for me to get a good view it with my camera. I caught a series of nice clips (shot at 210 fps) of it landing, eating, and taking off. I've edited some of this together into a short movie clip. Below are some image captures from the footage.  And here's a link to the video clip shot at high speed (wmv 26 mb)

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               COMING IN FOR A LANDING                          GRABBING A SIREN                            TAKING OFF WITH STICK

 The animal the Heron caught is not an eel, and not a snake. It is an amphibian. This is a Lesser Siren (Siren intermedia). Sirens are in the order Caudata--the Salamanders.  Sirens are nocturnal. They eat small fish, tadpoles, insects, and other invertebrates. They range in size from 7 inches to 27 inches long. Sirens are distinctive when seen closely. They have two short legs with feet that have 4 toes (So, could one could say that they are a two-foot animal with two feet?).  Sirens also have external, branched gills. They are nocturnal and live in water. However, if that water dries, they can secret a mucus covering which will allow them to survive while buried in the dried mud. This "suspended animation" is called "estivation". I can't find out how long a siren can estivate and still survive. Sirens feed by sucking food into their mouth. They don't have wide jaws like a frog or most salamnders; but a narrow mouth that can extend quickly and form a suction. I've seen this in action, and the movement is very fast.  The food is there, just in front of the Siren's nose, and then there's a quick movement, and the Siren is chewing something.  Below are two images cropped from the same photograph showing the Siren a little better.

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                 DIFFICULT WITH NO HANDS                             THE SIREN                                      RICKUBISCAM SHOT                    

Here's the taxonomic rank of the Lesser Siren:
                                       Kingdom Animalia
                                       Phylum  Chordata
                                      Subphylum  Vertebrata
                                      Class  Amphibia
                                      Order  Caudata
                                      Family  Sirenidae
                                      Genus   Siren
                                      Species   Siren intermedia


03/29/2009--
(update 9/10/2016)Here is a Tricolored Heron that I watched as it fished in 40 Acre Lake near the Observation Tower.  These are frame grabs from the video clip I have here. I shot the video at high frame rate to play in slow-motion.

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When I first saw the heron walking with its wings open, I had thought it was trying to produce shade--to allow it to see through the glare at the surface of the water.  But I've read that herons also spread their wings
like this to scare or herd fish.  Since the heron is striking so far ahead, that's what I think it is doing here--herding or spooking fish to flush them from cover.

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The first lunge was successful, and the heron swiftly tossed and swallowed the minnow.  Then, it saw another, and caught that one, too.

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After the second successful catch, the fish had been impaled some distance from the end of the heron's bill. It took a little effort to work the fish back down to the end of its beak, so the heron could swallow it.

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I've read the term "inertial feeding" in some of the literature I've reviewed. This refers to the use of the prey's inertia to reposition it. That is, the predator's head (with the prey in its mouth) is moved forward, or up (or both);
then the mouth is opened and the prey is briefly released. The inertia of the prey briefly keeps it stationary in the air. During this brief moment, the predator moves its head and grabs the prey from another (usually more
favorable) position.  This is very easy to see in slow-motion video.


06/11/2006--
I was watching a large alligator foraging in what remained in Pilant Slough just West of the Spillway Bridge. As I was filming, I heard a "SLAP!" sound behind me. This was across the trail, in Pilant Lake. I turned, looked, and immediately swiveled the camera around. A Great Blue Heron had caught a good-sized bowfin (latin name amia calva) ! (see ONE, TWO, below). I quietly moved the camcorder and tripod about 3 steps and began filming.

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                                       ONE                                                                     TWO                                                                             THREE                                                             FOUR
The Great Blue Heron dropped the bowfin, and to my amazement, the bowfin was still very much alive!  I was trying to take still photos while

the camcorder was filming, so the fish flopped almost out of view. The Heron stabbed it again, and then neatly swallowed the fish.  The video clip is here.
(see THREE and FOUR above, and FIVE through SEVEN, below).

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                                        FIVE                                                                      SIX                                                                            SEVEN                                                            EIGHT                                    

5/07/2006 I've already mentioned that I've seen a number of snakes being eaten by birds this spring. Here, a Little Blue Heron ( egretta caerulea ) has caught a small snake. The snake appears to be  a Gulf Crayfish Snake ( regina rigida sinicola ).  My copy of Texas Snakes by Werler and Dixon (third printing) shows the snake on plate 118 and describes it on pages 244-246. I going mostly with the color of the belly scales for this identification.  The snake is non-venomous. Even in pictures, one can see the difficulty the heron has with prey of this type.

Imagine eating with chopsticks (some of you may do this regularly. I have.) Consider how difficult it can be to pick up just one soft noodle from a plate using the chopsticks. Now, animate that noodle, and imagine that it can bite, and might be venomous. Finally, imagine that the your eyes are on one end of the chopsticks and that they would therefore be at risk from that animated, possibly venomous, noodle. You may now have some idea of the complexity of the activity that this, and similar birds, have to perform time and again, for their entire lives.
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                  A SUCCESSFUL HUNT                                         CLOSER LOOK AT THE MEAL                                    NOW, WHAT?                                                  A TANGLED SITUATION                                         MAYBE THIS WAY
While watching this kind of event, I wonder how much compression force the bird can generate with its beak. While the bird seems to be squeezing the snake
( sometimes on its head) the snake, in most cases, seems to be moving vigorously throughout all this. It seems that most of the mortal damage is inflicted by stabbing motions of the beak as it is rammed into the prey as it is dropped and repositioned. In most cases I've seen the snake (or other prey) appears to be still moving as it is swallowed. You can see a short video clip of the Little Blue Heron in action here (wmv 1.5 mb).
This happened on the North part of the 40-Acre Lake trail, on the North side of the trail (in Pilant Lake), about midway between the Observation Tower and Hoot's Hollow. In these pictures, you can see how low the water level is.

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                   THE SNAKE'S BELLY                                        BY THE TIP OF THE TAIL                                    DORSAL VIEW OF THESNAKE                                           FINALLY GOT IT!                                         VIDEO CLIP WMV 1.5MB

4/30/2006--I've never seen so many snakes being eaten by birds as I have this spring.  The average water level at the park has been declining since last year. I don't know if the two events are related, but it's possible that the limited amount of aquatic hunting ground has concentrated the snakes (and all other aquatic creatures) into a smaller area, thus making them easier for the birds to find. I've seen snakes being eaten by American Bitterns, White Ibis, Little Blue Herons, and even a Grackle. Here are some pictures of a Great Blue Heron which I just caught a glimpse of as it was finishing off a snake. I can't really tell what kind of snake it was, but I'm pretty sure by the overall color and comparative size of the head that it is non-venomous. This short video clip (  HERON WMV 1.4 MB ) shows the heron apparently having a bit of trouble getting the meal to go down.  
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                               SUCCESSFUL HUNT                                                                           BETTER CLOSEUP VIEW

3/05/2006--(update added 01/08/2017) I was on the West loop of Elm Lake trail when I saw a Great Blue Heron on one of the islands. It appeared to be stalking something, so I set up the video camera I had at the time. When the heron caught its
prey, I started filming. I thought it had caught a fish. But when I zoomed in with the video camera, I could see that the Heron had caught a baby alligator! While I was filming, I noticed an adult alligator moving towards the Heron, which flew off
long before the alligator could reach it. In the 10 years since I shot this video clip, I've never had a chance to witness another Great Blue Heron with a baby alligator--although others have. Alligator nests at Brazos Bend State park average about 
33 eggs per nest.  If all those eggs hatch, only one will possibly survive the 3 years after it hatched. Most of the losses are probably due to predation by the many wading birds at the park; like this Great Blue Heron. The two images below are frames from the video clip I shot, and the clip can be seen at this link. 

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                 BLUE HERON WITH BABY ALLIGATOR  1                                            BLUE HERON WITH BABY ALLIGATOR  2

January 18, 2004  Okay, so we got a little cool weather today.  No big deal. Not when compared to the below-zero (F!) temperatures that have been reported in the Northeast US this week! So, the temperature stayed under 45 degrees, or at least it felt that way at Brazos Bend State Park. We'd gotten about 3 inches of rain recently, so water was high, and it was flowing nicely over the spillway between Pilant Lake and Pilant Slough. If the weather had been a bit warmer (perhaps mid-sixties with lots of sun), alligators would have been there, looking for fish being swept through the spillway. The alligators didn't show, but quite a few of our wading birds did.  The last image below (GREAT BLUE) is a nice close-up shot of a Great Blue Heron.  When I first saw this heron, it was perched on the rail of the Spillway Bridge (see TOLL, ONE FISH, below)
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                PAY TOLL--ONE FISH                                                  WATER'S FINE!                                                         GREAT BLUE
The person in the picture is quite a bit further down the trail, and is only that small in perspective. It's a Great Blue Heron, not a Humongous Blue Heron, after all. Then, it jumped into the water, and walked under the bridge and I used the opportunity to sneak up closer and catch it standing (see WATER'S FINE!, above).  It's always impressive to see these birds take flight from nearby. They are BIG.  See a bird of this size perched on the bridge handrail was an arresting sight by itself, but seeing it open its wings and flap from about thirty feet away can make you hold your breath for a second.  It just seems so odd to see a bird so large standing on anything but the ground.
Visitor attendance at the park was slow, and it was a pleasure to be outside at the silent park watching the wading birds fishing (a lot of them seemed to be eating crawfish).
April 19, 2003
Today, Earth Day was celebrated at the park. As part of my contribution to the effort, I was signed up to lead an "alligator hike" at 2:00 pm. I was able to get out to Elm Lake at about 11:30. As I was passing the last pier, I heard another headslap from near the same area that I filmed last weekend. I approached a pod of baby alligators (about 14 lined up on a log) and their mother in the water right at the trail intersection. And the rest of the alligator stuff today is in my alligator pages.

June 16, 2002  It's time once again to see our friend the Green Heron. As I promised, I tried to get some video of a successful fishing trip. Here it is, with some more pictures. The Rickubiscam this week shows the heron with its catch.
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                 BAIT DRIFTS IN                                      GENTLY GRAB THE  BAIT                                HERE' S A GOOD SPOT                                     TIME TO WAIT                                             GOT ONE!
 As I've shown before, there is a repetition of bait, watch the drift, grab, bait.... This time, however, there was a "stab" and a successful one. Click on the following links to view the clip. Heron Snags It  (wmv video 6.1mb)  Heron Snags slow motion (I've slowed this a bit with software) (wmv video 8.0mb).   Note--5/10/2012. In the 10 years since I posted this, video editing and computers have changed quite a bit. Internet access has as well. Unfortunately, 10 years ago, I archived my digital videos in the best format available to me at the time, which was 352 x 240. I've been able to do some post-editing and enlarge the video. So, now there are expanded versions of the original video clips mentioned above. If you are visiting here after 5/10/2012, you are seeing the better-quality versions of the clips I filmed 6/16/2002. I'd really thought I'd shoot better video of this behavior in the years since then, and I hadn't been able to. Just think--when I first posted these, almost everyone ONLY had dialup connections available--and slow dialup at that. Video size was critical. This is why I generated all these tiny thumbnail images on the pages--to make them load better over dialup. 

May 18, 2002  Last week I talked about the Green Heron, and its habit of using live bait to catch fish. I wouldn't be surprised if some visitors to this site found that story hard to believe. This week, I was able to see some Herons doing it! (Not "it". Fishing with live bait. Jeez....) The image above, (GREEN HERON FISHING) shows a Green Heron in the act of placing its bait. This was a continuous process. As the bait would float or swim towards the lily pad, the heron would pick it up and place it back in the water.  Watch these two clips if you'd like to see this.  Look very carefully at the speck the bird is placing in the water. It is a bug of some kind, but this all happened about 20 yards away, and I had to use the video camera to bring it closer (which is why the image jerks around. Sorry.).  So, I couldn't tell exactly what it was.  Clips one (wmv video 9.4mb)  and two (wmv video 2.9mb)  show a few repetitions of the bait placement. Clips three (wmv video 3.5mb) and five (wmv video 8.0mb) shows one more baiting, and then lunges at food.  However, the fish got away.  One of these days, I'll get a clip of a successful stab at a baited fish.  When I do, it'll show up here.   Note--5/10/2012. In the 10 years since I posted this, video editing and computers have changed quite a bit. Internet access has as well. Unfortunately, 10 years ago, I archived my digital videos in the best format available to me at the time, which was 352 x 240. I've been able to do some post-editing and enlarge the video. So, now there are expanded versions of the original video clips mentioned above. If you are visiting here after 5/10/2012, you are seeing the better-quality versions of the clips I filmed 5/18/2002. 

May 12, 2002  I watched a few of these Green Herons (sometimes called Greenback Heron) feeding today. Sometimes, one of these small birds will catch an insect, and drop it into the water. Then, the heron will watch, and when a fish comes up to investigate the insect, the heron grabs the fish. While I saw a few Green Herons fishing today, I didn't see any of them using bait.  I was able to get a short video clip of one of these herons spearfishing.  Click the links to download the flv video file(246 kb) or an mpg file(1,304 kb). While watching the clip, try not to blink, or you'll miss the long neck extension as the spearing is done. (GREEN HERON HUNTING, below)
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                 GREEN HERON HUNTING--                                                                 --GREEN HERON FISHING WITH BAIT 

If you'd like to know more about the park follow these links:

Brazos Bend State Park   The main page.

Brazos Bend State Park Volunteer's Page  The volunteer's main page.
 

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