[Tweeters] Do "Stalking Heron"

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Fri Aug 22 09:15:31 PDT 2014

A few years ago I posted about "Be A Stump" which is what I call sitting down and being quiet in one spot for awhile to see what birds or other creatures come by. It works great .If you like that you might also try "Stalking Heron".
"Stalking Heron" sounds like a yoga pose maybe, but really it's a naturalist pose. The only equipment I use are my close - focusing binoculars and, sometimes, rubber boots.
Walking along a freshwater or saltwater shore, or anywhere really, do "Stalking Heron" - walk slowly and quietly until you see something interesting along the shore or in the water, then be still and watch. If you don't see much at first, stop at a likely spot and be still until you do see something.
Since I don't have the eyesight of a Heron, close-focusing binoculars make all the difference in seeing water creatures clearly with out getting too wet, sandy, having to put a snorkel and mask on, wear hip-waders, or haul around a bathyscope. Go light - that's the way I roll.
I've been "doing the heron" quite a bit in Port Townsend this year while I'm here for my temp job of herding the elderly. North Beach is my favorite spot because of its mix of rocky and sandy shore - lots of inter-tidal diversity. A good bird spot too.
Sometimes, when I don't see much moving around in the tidepool's etc. I just pick a spot in the water nearby and watch with my binocs until something moves in my chosen field of vision. Doing this the other day I discovered the interesting sessile Jellyfish (Haliclystus stejnegiri) which doesn't float around like a typical jelly, and with its eight 'lobes' doesn't look like one either. This little (less than 3/4" across) critter was half hidden in the sea algae it was attached to. Took a while to notice it.
As I stayed still, like a heron, peering at my little spot, I noticed a area where there was quite a current - tiny bits of floating debris drifting past this spot in the sand, would suddenly shoot away! As I peered more closely I realized I was looking at the siphon of a big Horse Clam, the current being the out-flow of this filter feeder, circulating water. Then, as I looked even closer, I saw tiny copepods jerking around, some about the size of a comma in this post - others even smaller were at the limits of my focus. All this was happening in an area about 6 X 6 inches square.
While all this was happening, my role model, an actual Great Blue Heron about 50 ft away, was doing the heron in the largest tidepool on this stretch of beach. I had found this beautiful pool, full of giant Laminaria, and Feather Boa algae, surfgrass etc. to be a good fish watching spot on past trips. With a jab, the Heron snagged a wiggly eel-like blenny, and gulped it down. Nice to watch an expert in action. And non -action.
One caveat about this technique ; when practicing "Stalking Heron" in public, you may be taken for an idiot, or worse (" johnny, stay away from that man!) by unsuspecting citizens, as you stare at the water at your feet with binoculars. Of course someone might be curious - one of those "teachable moments" maybe. Just sayin'.
Jeff Gibsondoing the heron, inWherever Wa

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