Wabbit War Mind Game

War is definitely a mind game. Strategy is critical to the success of one, or the other side. Right now, I am trying to understand the new strategy of the Alliance. This morning my intelligence indicated a new player on the scene. Could the Wabbits be so smart as to ally with the Herons? Even if they are not allies, the heron represents another attack on Grumpa Joe. Now, I have to fight the enemy on one more front. Wabbits, ants, mice, now herons; how many more will join the battle before I raise the white flag?

I thought I won the heron battle last fall, but I lost. I last saw him standing on the frozen pond waiting patiently for the thaw. The temperature turned down, and he disappeared. All winter, I waited  to determine if any of my fish had survived his onslaught. They did not; he had eaten every one of them.

The heron is a formidable enemy. He is cunning, clever, and observant. The least bit of noise or movement, and he flies off making a giant circle around the neighborhood only to return and land on the roof of the castle. When opportunity presents itself, he glides down to the water, and patiently fishes.

I avoided buying new fish because of the heron threat. I did not see Great Blue for months, so I finally broke down and stocked the pond with five bucks worth of Comets. The fish are so small, that I have only seen them three times in a month. They disappear rapidly under the foliage of the water lilies.

Today, I did maintenance on the pond. I trimmed the creeping water plants, pulled the string algae out by the bucketful, and cleared the skimmer basket. The heat has evaporated several inches of water, so I ran the hose to top it off. As I picked up the trimmings and piles of algae, I spotted a toad. Then, a few inches away from the toad, I watched a green frog quietly slip into the pool. The frog is another threat. Will he win out over the heron, and eat the comets? Or, will Great Blue have frog legs for supper?  It doesn’t matter; I’m screwed either way.

As I said before, war is strategy. Grandma Peggy hates Great Blue because he eats fish. She will not have a fish eater as her ally, but she will remain faithful to the flower eating Wabbits. How do I resolve the dilemma of split Alliances? In one case she is with me, in the other she is against me. It’s a losin fight.

Guard-Heron

I finally caught him with my camera. Every morning for the last week, I spotted him patiently waiting at the edge of the pond. He hopes to find a fish. I now call him my Guard-Heron because the pond is frozen over and his only function is to see to it that no one else gets into his territory.

Getting his photo was no easy matter. Once I determined where and when to look, I used stealth to sneak up on him. He will scoot at the slightest motion, or noise.  I crawled on the floor under the window line then slowly raised the camera above the window sill. A squeeze of the trigger and I had him. I took a second photo after confirming the first. He was gone. How much longer will he guard my pond? The temperature continues to drop, and more snow is on the way. The fish and other aquatics that make up his diet are safely hidden under the ice. 

Here are the questions:

Will the Dumb-Ass Heron take the Dumb-Ass Squirrel

Will the Dumb-Ass Heron finally move south?

Will the Dumb-Ass Heron become an ice sculpture at the edge of my pond?

Vote for one.

Dumb-Ass Heron

Last week I wrote about a Great Blue Heron that found my pond. He has been visiting steadily ever since. My last words were , “I hope it freezes tonight so he will migrate south.”  The past few nights the temperature has been in the twenties, and the pond is frozen over. He is still here. 

Late this afternoon, I saw him standing at the edge of the pond waiting for it to defrost. How dumb can he be?

I had to look in my Peterson Field Guide  to learn that the Heron’s summer-winter range cuts right through the south end of Chicago. The crazy bird may decide to winter here. I always thought  Herons relied solely on aquatic creatures for nourishment, but I learn that they also take small mammals. Oh well.

@*^#&a;*)Great Blue Heron

     Ever since we installed our pond, I have been waiting for the critters to show up. This summer the deer arrived after four years of absence. They cleaned the yard of every newly planted Hosta.  A possum has dug up the lawn looking for grubs. Squirrels have planted corn seed all about the yard. Slinky the garter snake slithered into the rocks around the water fall.  A red tail hawk often swoops through the yard after a squirrel or dove. The place is a veritable zoo at times. 

      I thought things would quiet down now that the leaves have fallen and the flowers are all gone. Last Sunday morning, I sat having my coffee reading the paper. I could see the window from the corner of my eye when it happened, A huge shadow swooped across the window. At first, I thought is was the hawk. I jumped up to see if he nailed a squirrel. Nope. I looked up at the pond, there he was, Big Bird in person. A great Blue Heron had spotted the goldfish. Before I could say “Peg come see,”  the bird had a bulge moving down it’s long throat. He nailed my largest, fanciest goldfish. He saw me, and took off looking like a prehistoric pterodactyl.

I left to deliver Thanksgiving food baskets with my Lions Club. I got home a couple of hours later. Peggy greeted me with “he’s been back three times already.” Later, I saw him again, but as soon as I made a move for the camera he flew off. It is three days later, and we have spotted him at the pond every day. My friend Al told me he would stay until he has cleaned all the fish from the pond. I hope it freezes tonight so he will migrate south.

Freddie the Frog Wins!

A few days ago, in my post titled Fish “Fry,” I asked myself which would be first to show up at the pond, a frog or a heron.  The question was answered today. It is a frog. I spent time on the patio this afternoon, repairing the gas grill. When I finished, I knelt at the edge of the pond in the shade. I was looking for some of the baby fish or “fry.” Suddenly on my right, I saw a streak arc into the water with a splash. I didn’t really see it well enough to identify it as a frog, but my fifteen years of experience as a pond owner says, “it is a frog.” Where did he come from? Our yard is on the edge of a wetland, or “swamp,” as I refer to it. This year there is plenty of water in it too. The swamp also has plenty of food for the frogs. Why did Freddie pick my pond over the swamp?

This moment verified that the pond is one step closer to ecological balance. Now, I await the villan. When will Bruce, the Great Blue Heron, show up?

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