Fish for breakfast

A juvenile black-crowned night heron catches a fish

I was running early to work recently, so I decided to stop in Kawaihae, as I often do. With more time, I’d have gone for a walk along the coast, but I had only 15 minutes so I plumped for a visit to the south end of the harbor to see if there were any herons around.

I found two there, but one quickly disappeared. The other stood on a rock in shallow water, a popular fishing spot for them. I took a few photos and noticed the heron leaning forward. It had spotted something. An instant later, it plunged into the water and then emerged with a fish on its beak. It returned to the rock and paused. The fish appeared to be impaled on the heron’s beak, but extracting the beak risked losing the fish before it could be eaten.

A moment later, the heron hopped over to the small beach where I was. There, it popped the fish into the air and swallowed it in one slick movement. This whole sequence took less than three minutes. The heron stayed on the beach and I returned to my car and headed off to work, very glad that I’d stopped by.

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