[Tweeters] Fisher kills Great Blue Heron

B Boekelheide bboek at olympus.net
Thu Oct 29 13:16:04 PDT 2015

Hello, Tweeters,

Drama on the Dungeness! On yesterday's Wednesday Morning Bird Walk at Railroad Bridge Park in Sequim, we watched a Great Blue Heron fly along the Dungeness River upstream of the old bridge. Within a few minutes, all of a sudden the heron was flopping wildly about in the middle of the river, struggling against something that was holding it in the water. Through our binoculars we saw that a fairly-large dark mustelid appeared to be holding the heron's head in its jaws. The mustelid continued gripping the heron while it floated downstream with the current. The mustelid came out onto a log across the river holding the heron, giving us a good look, and we talked among ourselves about what it looked like. We are quite certain it was a fisher. The fisher tried to pull the struggling, flopping heron out onto a log, but the wet heron appeared too large and cumbersome, and it slipped back into the water. The fisher then pulled the struggling heron out onto another log, but it again slipped back into the water. Eventually the heron stopped struggling and the fisher pulled the heron's body through the water between two logs in a log jam. The fisher then disappeared into the log jam with the heron's body lying face-down in the water.

The fisher was all dark brown, size of a house cat, about 30-35 inches long (which includes about a 12-inch tail), with pointy snout and rounded ears. It was definitely not a river otter, which has a very different head shape, or a mink, which we have seen before in the park and is much smaller. It did not have the lighter ventral colors of either a pine marten or a river otter. Unfortunately it all happened so quick and we were so entranced by the show that we didn't get photos. As you may know, fishers have been released in Olympic National Park within the past few years and a few individuals have spread around the Olympic Peninsula. I’m meeting with a ONP fisher biologist today to show them the location.

Bob Boekelheide

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