It is Heron Day on the Sheep Creek delta. True, there is one bald eagle perched on the number 2 navigation marker and the usual scattering of mallards, scoters, and gulls on the beach. But I am drawn to three great blue herons.
Aki finds a lumbering golden retriever to circle as I snap pictures of the herons. Two are as rigid as tide markers. A third, perhaps made uncomfortable by the playing dogs, trots into the wind with wings extended and lets itself be lifted by the breeze off the beach. Once airborne, the big bird turns sharply and glides to a stop 30 feet down the beach.
After the flying heron resettles itself, I notice that rather than extend its long neck for optimal viewing of the small fish it usually hunts, one of the other herons hunkers down. He looks like the skulking villain in a melodrama. I figure out why when I enlarge a fuzzy photo I took of him and see a pan sized fish dangling from its beak. His catch must be too large for the little snap head back and swallow technique I’ve seen herons use to eat prey.
Looking at Douglas Mountain range reflected in the channel on this rare blue sky day, I wonder if angels take flight like herons. Do they unfurl wings as wide as they are tall, curl them into a aerodynamic foil, and float off the earth?