Great Blue Heron

My property is bisected by Sinking Creek, a 10-mile tributary of the Watauga River. The Watauga River originates from a spring at Linville Gap in North Carolina. It starts from the western side of the Continental Divide and ultimately its waters flow to the Gulf of Mexico, while the Linville River on the opposite side of Linville Gap flows to the Atlantic Ocean.

I front on a narrow and slow-moving section that winds between my garden and wetlands. It is a certified trout stream, and regularly attracts avian visitors in search of fish. This great blue heron visited my yard this week in search of breakfast. I watched as it stood like a statue for half an hour before flying downstream where I photographed it exploring for a more promising fishing spot. They are very patient, and I regularly see them standing on the bank of the creek for an hour or more waiting for trout.

Great blue herons are the largest North American heron, up to four feet tall. However, they only weigh around five pounds, because like all birds their bones are hollow. They can fly up to thirty miles an hour, and I often see them flying over my house, moving between sections of the creek. They usually catch smaller fish but occasionally will spear such a large fish it takes a lot of strategy to eat. They are said to eat voles, and I would definitely appreciate if they could remove a few of the rodents creating numerous tunnels through my garden. No matter what they catch, they are always welcome visitors. Their prehistoric appearance hints of their kinship with dinosaurs. Watching them is almost like time travel, catching a glimpse of the past in their graceful flights and patient hunts.