Sunday, December 10, 2023
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Little Heron

This still counts as fishing right?  It was quite astonishing to find a bird fishing with bread crumbs. This extraordinary skill was demonstrated to my family and me not just once but about a dozen times because the hungry little heron (a.k.a. striated heron) gulped down about 7 fish in one session and 5 or 6 more on another.  Not only was the method amazing - so was the voracious appetite of this bird.

We were feeding the tilapia and terrapins in a pond at the Orchid Country Club, Singapore one quiet evening and out from under the izora bushes lining the pond's edge, came this heron. It dashed to pick up a chunky bread crumb, then settled to a nice spot like any fisherman would. It surveyed the fishing ground for good feeding activity and carefully placed the crumb in the thick of the frenzied fish.  As the ripples from the munching tilapias took the crumbs out of the bird's reach, it would snatch it out and replace it nearer to its target zone.  Then, when a fish took a lunge toward the tasty morsel, the bird struck and drew out its prize in a lightning move to dry ground.  

Sometimes, the bird seemed to have picked the 'wrong' fish as it looked to be in trouble for taking such a big fish out of the pond.  But the bird surprised all its captive audience that it was not a big problem.  After a few adjustments to ensure the fish's head was pointing toward its gut, the bird gulped down the fish seemingly too enormous for its good. We thought after one fish, still bulging in its throat, the bird was done for the day but like any fisherman would, it started the process all over again. "Yup, this looks like a nice piece of bait..." - the heron picks up another bread crumb, puts it in the water, steels its glare over the waters and bait (at times warding off terrapins that took a fancy to its offering); readies for the strike and 'boom!' - another fish for dinner. 

"Again, again!", the crowd silently chanted. And like any professional performer, the heron gave an encore - and then another, and yet another.  When dusk fell over the pond and after gulping 7 fish, the heron ducked under the izoras and disappeared. Who would have guessed that there was such dangerous waters for fish in a peaceful pond in a golf resort in Singapore.