This has been one of those days…cool, cloudy, and by necessity, mostly given to work. In fact, I've been stuck at my desk since breakfast…which, come to think of it, I ate at my desk about 6:45 this morning. Lunch, too, when that time rolled around.
Working from home can be as tyrannical sometimes as having a real job at a real workplace—except you can dress sloppier. The nuthatches, goldfinches, titmice, and chickadees who've been steadily cleaning out the seed feeder near the study window, simply don't care how you look so long as you keep the grub coming. And the UPS guy can always use a chuckle.
Of course, when I say I've been at the desk "all day," I don't literally mean every single moment. Being your own supervisor has it's perks. One is the right to bolt up the hall every so often for an apple or a cup of tea. Or to the front room to annoy Moon the dog by awakening her from her latest nap with a lob of one of her plush toys onto her upturned belly. Gotcha!
My hands-down favorite time waster, though, is gazing out the deskside window—watching birds and squirrels, and the 200 yard slice of river visible just beyond. You never know what you'll see on or along the water. Today it was a great blue heron.
Heron are common here, along my "home water" because it's a good stretch for them to do their fishing. Seldom a day passes that I don't see at least one great blue wading stealthy along, hunched, leaning forward a bit, intent on the water ahead. Or alternately, they might elect to simply stand on a rock or in the shallows, as immobile as a driftwood stump, a lurking shadow waiting patiently for their next meal to swim to within striking distance.
I've spent a lot of time watching heron fish.
Today, I got into playing a game of hide-and-seek with a particular great blue heron who insisted on tempting me from my work by parading rather close to the cottage. A good photo opportunity, providing I could out-sneak the sharp-eyed and watchful angler.
I also spend a lot of time trying to sneak within telephoto distance (60 feet or less) of fishing heron. I understand that in some places, great blues will tolerate such distances without alarm; some, in fact, are almost tame, to the point where you can practically walk up and get a good heron shot with a point-and-shoot camera.
Not my birds! These wild river heron are not nearly so accommodating. A distance of 200 yards is too close. I've stepped onto my deck and spooked birds wading so far up the river that it was only because I was looking through binoculars that I even knew anything had happened.
Today's heron was no exception—constantly on high alert for any hint of movement along the bank, among the bushes…even in the sky. Once a pair of flying mallards spooked the fishing heron, causing it to squawk and lift and fly a ways downstream, even after the zooming ducks passed it by off its port wingtip. An hour later, during a different stalk, I was flummoxed when one of the island's buzzards came sailing over the roost just after noon—again sending the heron into a squawking flap-off tizzy.
But I persisted—in both my desk work and my heron stalking—and eventually completed both. It isn't the best great blue heron shot I've ever taken…but it was the best one I managed today. And at least you now know I wasn't idle.