Heron Number One was awake early, with neatly sleeked feathers. It seemed aware that it was nearing high tide, because it ignored a nearby gull and headed straight into the stormwater outlet in Ball’s Head Bay. It must have known that the tidal peak reaching the drain would allow fish inside to search for food.
Pretty soon, it saw something, and stabbed the water, and - first success, albeit just a tiddler.
The heron quickly checked to make sure the gull hadn’t noticed where the fish were:
The gull was oblivious, so the heron went on to the next fish:
And so it went, until Heron No 1 had had a hearty breakfast.
Heron No 2 looked as if it had partied too hard the night before. It woke late, found it too hard to smooth its plumage, let alone go fishing, and just sat recovering in the sun. No breakfast!
Both birds were White-faced Herons (Egretta novaehollandiae). They are medium-sized birds - about 65cm or 2ft tall - found all over Australia, usually close to water. They take a wide variety of prey, including fish, amphibians and invertebrates, mostly whilst standing or slowly wading in shallow water like Heron No 1.
North Sydney – my home suburb – holds Sydney’s second largest CBD. However its parks and bushland areas, and those of neighbouring councils such as Willoughby, host a surprising variety of native flora and fauna. These bush areas are maintained by dedicated council staff, often working with local resident volunteers.