Big Blue, the great blue heron that is resident to our small lake here in northern Alabama, is spending more and more time with us. Our home sits 50 feet above water level on the north shore. Our shore-line vegetation includes three willow clumps, which I have lopped to eight feet — that’s as far as I can reach. Big Blue is spending hours a day (six, three, and ten hours, respectively, these past three days) standing in the near-shore water at the largest of the three willow clumps. This one is about ten feet across. Why there?
A cold front swept through last evening. Cold is relative — what is cold in north Alabama is down-right warm compared to January in Fairbanks, AK, where we lived 2004-08. Today never made it to 50 degrees with a brisk northwesterly wind. So again, why is he adopting this particular spot? The willow clump cut the breeze hitting Big Blue as he basked in the bright sunshine warmly bathing his southern exposure. The willow also prevented any land-dwelling predator from rushing him. Another reason he prefers our end of the lake is that we and our near-neighbors have no dogs. Well, our neighbor to the east does have what I refer to as a diminutive pretend dog. Some large dogs live on the south end, quite noisy when out. I would guess very threatening even though fenced. And finally, I imagine from his fish prey’s perspective, the willow behind him masks his image. So, all in all, a great place to spend the day.
I revel in seeing him comfortable near our home. I can only hope that this is more than a passing fancy.
As I contemplate future Big Blue Blogs, I list several topics for exploration. First, can I be sure there is just this one Big Blue, and not a series of great blue herons I cannot distinguish one from another? We’re trying to catalog sightings with photos. I refer to Big Blue in the masculine — how can I be sure? I call this four-acre body of water a lake — I will delve into the difference between a lake and a pond. Other ideas will come to me.