34. The Night Heron or Backpack Quack (untranslatable Dutch pun*)

night_heron_juvenileHerons aren’t familiar for their refinement.
Too often, I watched them fly the streets like a drunk, leaving a trail of nearly beheaded cyclists, due to a literally heavy meal.
Or worse: they catch a fish, so big that –oops, silly detail- it just doesn’t fit through their throat.
Oh well, some animals are simply more beauty than brains…
Not herons though.
Blessed with a chronic bad hair-day and their ridiculously large muppet-like feet, they won’t win a beauty contests either.

Having this said, I have to admit I just love them herons!
Besides utterly clumsy, they can be graceful like a ballerina.
And as awkward as they might seem, so enviable are their fishing skills.
Some herons are even known to fish with bait, how cool is that?!

I always enjoy seeing these grey herons, decorating our ditches with endless patience.
And the great bittern, testing its camouflage skills in a completely snow-covered scene was truly unforgettable.
So when their little night heron nephew was spotted in my country, I wondered whether he would be just as fascinating as his relatives.
And guess what….he was!

Dozens of photographers at just a few meters distance, their cameras rattling like machine guns, did not seem to disturb him the least.
Neither did the passing motor cycles or barking dogs.
Just when I started to wonder if this bird might be not only dumb, but also blind, deaf and autistic at the same time, he suddenly poked his beak through the completely duck-weeded water: spot on!
How did he do that?

There wasn’t a single duckweed-free spot in the water, so it must have been impossible to see a fish.
It’s said that bitterns use their beak to determine the refractive index of the water, to catch fish.
Maybe the night heron has a similar trick, like some kind of ultra-sensitive toes, that help him determine the location of the fish…?

Herons seem to be surrounded by mysteries, which is probably part of their attractiveness.

According to Wiki:

Night Herons stand still at the water’s edge, and wait to ambush prey, mainly at night.
During the day, they rest in trees or bushes.

This particular heron didn’t seem to have the slightest clue what the meaning of it’s name was and he was happily fishing during day time.

Why? I really have no idea, but I surely enjoyed it, since I’m not a Night Photographer 😉

black-crowned night heron,Nycticorax nycticorax,night heron,walking
Night Heron practising for Ministry of Silly Walks
black-crowned night heron,Nycticorax nycticorax,night heron,fish
Some herons are even known to fish with bait.
black-crowned night heron,Nycticorax nycticorax,night heron,shaking,plumage
Night heron shaking its plumage
black-crowned night heron,Nycticorax nycticorax,night heron,swimming
Night heron swimming and fishing in the duckweed
diving, black-crowned night heron,Nycticorax nycticorax,night heron,hunting
Night heron attack
black-crowned night heron,Nycticorax nycticorax,night heron,water
Night heron wondering why the night is so bright
black-crowned night heron,Nycticorax nycticorax,night heron,vocalising
Vocalising night heron
black-crowned night heron,Nycticorax nycticorax,night heron,prey
Night heron dining with fish& vegetables


black-crowned night heron,Nycticorax nycticorax,night heron,portrait,plumage
Night Heron with a Bad Hairday

black-crowned night heron,Nycticorax nycticorax,night heron,bokeh

black-crowned night heron,Nycticorax nycticorax,night heron,portrait
For most herons it’s not likely to win a beauty contest

* The Backpack Quack => Quack is a translation of the Dutch name for Night Heron: ‘Kwak’
Backpack refers to so called ‘backpack-animals’, being relatively tame animals that are lured by backpacks because of the food it might contain.

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