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The Kerfuffle!  While I floated around (in a boat) on Lake Pleasant (NW of Phoenix) with my buddy Ted, we encountered a great blue heron perched on the shore.  That’s not at all unusual there – they’re big fans of free fish.  This one, however, gave us quite a performance.<br />
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It took off as we approached, but then unexpectedly landed after flying a short distance and speared a good sized fish it spotted near the shore.  It struggled to swallow the fish, which was almost too big for its throat, and thus attracted a couple of “well meaning friends” (another heron plus a great egret) who were more than willing to assist by relieving it of its catch.<br />
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So it had to shoo those larcenous “friends” away without losing its grip on the fish – not a small feat.  The egret hung back, looking for an opportunity to snatch the fish as the herons squabbled, while the intruder heron made several direct passes attempting to wrest the fish away.<br />
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But ultimately the first heron prevailed, and its “friends” withdrew.  It then just had to figure how to get that sizeable fish down the hatch.  This involved repeatedly washing it in the lake (to get rid of sand and gravel clinging to the skin, and also possibly to lubricate it) before getting it positioned just right for a giant gulp.  <br />
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The fish did not seem overly enthusiastic about its role in the episode.  I captured many dozens of photos as all of this unfolded; here are a few…<br />
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Images ©2024 James D. Peterson<br />
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Tech info: Nikon D850 camera with Tamron 150-600mm lens at f/11, mostly at 600mm with various shutter speeds (fast – typically 1/3200) and ISO settings (1000 or higher, in Auto ISO mode).