09 February 2009

More Than You Can Chew?

On Tweeters at the moment, there is quite a conversation about a "profligate" Pied-billed Grebe, one that might have bitten off (as it were) more than it could chew.

Last week, I was at Juanita Bay Park, and managed to see much the same fight between a baby catfish and a Hooded Merganser female. While it took the better part of 15 minutes to complete, and there was much good-natured betting the task would not be consummated (the head of the catfish looked larger than the duck's mouth), the catfish finally went down.

I Very Much Hesitate to say any of these birds are profligate, but instead believe they were simply more confident in their ability, or they would never have attempted such.

In the same vein, I have here a photo I took about four years earlier, within 30 feet of the exact same place on earth, of a Great Blue Heron (hereinafter known as GBHE) at Juanita Bay Park, in battle with a salmon who had hoped to spawn on Forbes Creek when its afternoon went terribly wrong.

The salmon put up quite a fight and, for about 10 minutes, the fate of the salmon was not set in stone. The Tale of the Tape:
  • the salmon probably outweighed the GBHE by 3-1,
  • the salmon in length was almost as tall as the GBHE, and
  • the heron never once tried to hack it to pieces.
After an incredible battle of almost thirty minutes, the heron gave up. The salmon's victory was pyrrhic; it had not lived to see the end.

The winner: the gulls and crows who were nearby, watching and waiting, biding their time...

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