Tuesday 30 November 2010

Can't Get No Flatisfaction

Golden light is the order of the morning. The warmth of the sunrise colours belies the bitter cold; re-frozen snow-melt makes for treacherous footing on deck and path; snow clouds intermittently obscure the mountain tops.

You may be able to make out a heron in the foreground of this photo. We have seen quite a few high up on the shore the last few days. They appear to be spending more time in this area and less out on the exposed rocks. Perhaps they change their feeding habits when it's this cold.

We watched one a few days ago, trying to tackle its hard-earned meal. It had managed to spear a decent sized flatfish and quickly set about attempting to eat it. The heron first shook the fish off its beak, then grabbed it again and tried to swallow it whole. This didn't succeed, as the flatfish was simply too wide to go down its gullet. It then dropped the fish and began to toss it about and hack at it: this didn't seem to evoke much nutrition either. It tried the swallowing routine once more before giving up and flying off in a lazy arc across the bay, unsated but with dignity intact.

I suppose it can't be easy trying to fit the wide body of a half-dead flatfish into the narrow hole of a heron gullet. Kind of like trying to eat a sandwich bigger than your head while the filling struggles to make a run for it.

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