Near the end of a gray spring afternoon a distant white flash caught my eye. A large bird settled at the other side of the marsh and its landing pattern was not at all swan-like, but just like the landing of a large heron.
“It must be a Great Egret,” I thought – though I had never seen one in these parts before.
As soon as I could grab my camera I headed out on safari. The mysterious white bird was nowhere to be seen. At the far end of the marsh, however, a hedge of herons was assembling.
First one, then two, three, and finally five Great Blue Herons were stalking one area. It became clear that fishing in this particular puddle was very good.
The fishing was so good, in fact, that our Egret made a sudden entrance to join the hunt.
At this point, alas, I must confess that my headline – “juggling mudcats” – is mere click-bait.
You were lured by the prospect of precocious little catfish juggling several tennis balls at once, perhaps while riding unicycles along a tightrope. But the best I can offer are pictures of birds tossing poor mudcats into the air, one at a time.
That being said, it is not easy to consume a squirming spiny catfish, which is much longer than your neck is wide, unless you serve your meal just right. For herons and their ilk, juggling a single mudcat is no mere parlour trick, it’s an essential life skill.
Catching the fish is just the first step.
Next you must throw the fish high enough that gravity helps you swallow, then catch and re-catch the fish until it lands between your jaws at the ideal angle.
You might cock an ear to check that your supper has settled – and then you look for another fish.
Photo at top of page: White Shadow (click here for full-screen version)