Wildlife Wednesday: November – Patient and deadly

Our fish have gone. Our lovely new (and therefore newly stocked) pond has been raided. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise I suppose. I’d even noted a heron flying over the village a few times recently. Then I began to realise that I was disturbing it from somewhere nearby when I took the dog out down the alley. And then there was the day that I went to hang the washing out and saw a heron take off from the edge of our pond.

After that I took to counting fish daily. They seemed to be coping OK, hiding in the submerged terracotta pots we put in the bottom … until the day I caught the culprit brazenly standing on the lawn staring into the water.

heron.jpg

Juvenile Grey heron fishing in our pond

I chased him off in a perfunctory way, but when I counted that day I couldn’t see any fish whatsoever.

So, we appear to being targeted by a juvenile grey heron. He’s been back several times (actually I’ve no idea about gender), making me optimistic that there must be some fish left in there that are good at hiding.

heron2

Then, last weekend when I was at the kitchen window I was startled to see a heron strolling though the archway to the patio (there is another small pond there too). I guess he was surprised too, because he waited to see what I would do (get my camera of course!!)

heron3

Grey heron (Ardea cinerea) on the patio

He is a very large bird and very elegant. I’ve labelled him a juvenile since juveniles are greyer than adults, without the darker markings (such as the broad black stripe that runs from the eyes to the nape).

Eventually, I chased him off, but I don’t think that he is particularly bothered by me. I expect to see him again shortly. Sadly, I can no longer spot any fish in the small pond either, so he appears to be a fairly efficient fisherman.

We had another unexpected visitor to our patio area last week in the shape of a female sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus).

sparrowhawk

Female sparrowhawk making use of the chimnea

She seemed to be mostly interested in taking a bath. I spotted her fluttering around the waterfall to the small pond, but she couldn’t settle. Eventually she perched on top of the chiminea, checked out her surroundings and then moved on to the birdbath.

sparrowhawk2

Sparrowhawk taking a bath

There you have it, two successful predators and an exercise in contrasts. Just compare their beaks, talons and body shapes. I’ve not seen either close up in the garden before, so that has been most exciting.

I’m joining Tina @mygardenersays for Wildlife Wednesday (first Wednesday of each month). In her post today she finds herself reflecting that in a thriving wildlife garden ‘life and death is business as usual’. This post would seem to illustrate her point.

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About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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9 Responses to Wildlife Wednesday: November – Patient and deadly

  1. FlowerAlley says:

    I love visits like these.

  2. Tina says:

    I purchase inexpensive fish. And, I don’t name the fish, either. If you have a pond, you’re gonna have fishing birds. Mine usually show up in spring/early summer. Your visitors are gorgeous though, and it’s all apart of wildlife gardening. Great post, thanks for sharing. Go get yourelf (and your heron…) some more fish.

  3. Eliza Waters says:

    Magnificent visitors. Sorry about your fish, but I guess that is the way of things. Hope they weren’t too costly. I know they sell netting for ponds, but I suppose it isn’t all that attractive.

  4. The two birds are beautiful and very good at camera poses. That’s not so good for the fish though. I’ve seen some creative pond covers but in the end all must eat.

  5. susurrus says:

    I’m sorry about your fish too, but it is very exciting to be able to see these birds close up. Herons are a particular favourite – they have a very human quality, like men with overcoats on that are just a bit too big for them.

  6. shoreacres says:

    Another way you can tell that heron is a juvenile is by the ‘herringbone’ pattern of the feathers on its neck. As it matures, that will disappear and become a smoother gray.

  7. Chloris says:

    The trouble with herons is they keep coming back until they have every fish. I keep pots and stones round my pond because they like to be able to wade in.

  8. Oh the wonderful irony of wildlife! Great photos!

  9. Ha! I feel your pain! I have a beautiful backyard sanctuary replete with bird feeders, a mini waterfall and a butterfly garden. It’s like my own little Discovery channel. However, if you’re watching DISC you know you have to take the good with the bad! LOL We have a resident Cooper’s Hawk that dive-bombs our doves in the morning and occasionally some other visitors. There is an osprey that comes around as well. Our yard is on THEIR radar. In creating a feeding station, it’s a great spot for HIS dinner! 🙂 :/

    Beautiful article!

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