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Two Green Herons appeared recently in the little cove outside my window. I rarely see them here. They’re more often reported at the southern end of the pond. Long-term residents tell me there were far more of them about in years past than now.

These small, stocky herons, usually solitary and secretive, roost and nest singly in trees. They’re small as herons go, yet big enough to catch the Largemouth Bass resident in the pond. That, no doubt, is why they’re still with us.

The gulls and cormorants have all departed. They were dependent on the small Bluegills that died out in large numbers last March. The bass may be the next to go, having a known taste for bluegills too. If the bass population declines, so will the heron presence.

In time, the bluegills will recover. How quickly and fully depends on us humans. Will we undertake the long-overdue maintenance to improve the water quality of the pond? Or will we continue to hide behind the fiction that such a big, unseasonal fish kill was entirely natural and unavoidable?

Click an image to open the full-screen slide show. Then, look closely at the bird in the foreground. You should just be able to make out dark streaks on a white breast. That is a green heron in its first summer; next year, as an adult, it will be dark overall.

I watched these two birds for a time, hoping they would move around or fly away — anything to give me a better shot. Finally, I gave up and left the window. When I came back, the nearer bird was perched atop a small rock, offering me a perfect portrait pose. Alas, it flew off in a southerly direction before I could grab my camera. I did have the pleasure of seeing it in flight, however briefly.

Note the big turtle in the first photo, sunning itself on a flat rock in the foreground. Only two minutes later, in the second photo, it was gone, having slipped back into the water. Perhaps the turtle and the bird were both spooked by the photographer’s presence.

The date was July 30, 2012, at about 10:30 am.

Update, August 12, 2012: These photos were taken when the water in the pond was very low. Since then, several torrential rainstorms have raised the water level about eight inches. The rock shelf used by the turtle is now entirely submerged. Yet the water still remains low by historical standards; more rain is needed.

See related posts: Three Days in August, Green Heron Hopping.

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