Noise outside the studio attracts my attention. I grab the camera. On the back hillside, behind the buildings, are seven deer grazing on the slips of new grasses. Males, just 1 year old, lock their new horns with spring fuzz on them. The two tussle back and forth, play and practice for the serious future when it is time to fight over the females. The three eat, and enjoy the sunny day.
Something is caught in my peripheral vision. A Great Blue Heron lands on the hillside, not ten yards from the deer. It is not concerned that I am below, clicking away with camera.
Heron is stalking across the hillside, away from the deer, moving in slow motion. Suddenly, it stops, head bent low, waiting. Pounce. Up, the head lifts. Dangling from the beak, a gopher. The Heron throws the critter up into the air and it falls into the open beak below. One swallow and it is gone.
The stalking begins again, this time the bird returns across the hill toward the deer, who by now settle at the edge of my property for what looks like a late afternoon nap. Five young deer, heads down, eyes closed, snuggle closely to one another. One female adult at the top of the crowd, head up, ears alert, but eyes closed. The male, a 4 pointer, on the ground, but eyes open, head up, alert, watching over his charges.
The Heron continues its slow motion stalk across the hill, and a sudden stop. The neck leans forward, so slowly it is hard to detect motion, and then, with lightening speed, lunges. Up comes the beak with a mouse hanging by the tale. The predator swings its prey into the air by the tale, opens the beak and he crunches down. Blood squirts out of the beak, spraying the feathers on its face and on the leg feathers below. The mouse disappears down his throat.
The bird walks above the herd of deer, lifts one of its legs in repose, closes its eyes, and naps. The male deer, now watches over not only his own charges, but the Great Blue Heron, too.
Predator Preys, blood
A sign of sacrifice