18 January 2010

Grey heron catching lunch

After photographing the dead bugs in one of the urinals in the men's room at Fletcher's Cove last Friday, I took a series of pictures of a grey heron catching and eating a fish in the Potomac River. Unfortunately, the only lens I had with me was a wide angle that went up only to 45 mm. Consequently, the pictures are not great, but they still make an informative sequence. I think.


In picture B the heron is striking at its prey; in C the fish it caught is visible in its beak; in D it is getting ready to swallow the fish; in E the fish is on its way down to the stomach (notice how enlarged the heron's neck appears). The fish was probably still alive as it was being swallowed.

My usual contact in matters of wildlife identification could not give me a definite id of the fish owing to the poor quality of the pictures, but thought that "a reasonable guess would be a small bass".


Neil said...

Alert The Daily Heron !

Perhaps the fish is Lepomis? Looks very much like a centrarchid so "small bass" is probably a safe enough bet.

John said...

Nice shots of the behavior. I especially like frame B with the heron plunging its head into the water. I hadn't noticed a heron's wings flex out like that before. Perhaps that assists balance or accuracy.

By the way, the North American Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is a different species from the Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) of Eurasia and Africa, though they are closely related.


Thanks for that John. I thought there was a blue in the name somewhere, but wasn't sure.