June 7, 2010: The heron came back this morning around 6:06 a.m. It was still pretty dark. I looked out the back door and spied the heron on the berm, around twenty feet from the pond. As I watched, he calmly walked over to the pond and studied it from the rocks on its edge. He only tested one area today. He even scratched his body like a dog would. I think he satisfied himself that the net was back. Deciding not to waste his time, he flew off to the northeast, still looking for breakfast.
June 5, 2010: Today is the Pond Tour. We have been spending all our spare time lately getting the garden ready for the expected visitors. By this morning, we were through. Through as in what there was is what the visitors would get. So, we got up very early, drove around putting up the Pond Tour signs for directions to the house, took Sarah for a walk and came back for coffee. Maria had our regular brew and I decided to celebrate by having an Irish Coffee, using the authentic recipe from Buena Vista Restaurant in San Francisco. I mixed up the ingredients and headed for the back porch to enjoy the treat. It was exactly 7:17 a.m.
As I sat down I thought I saw a large bird land in the oak tree next to the pond. Probably I just had herons on my mind. Right. A closer look showed that indeed a young heron was in the tree. I called to Maria to bring the camera and come look. She sat down and, Sarah along side, we watch the heron for the next thirty minutes.
The heron first coasted down from the tree onto the grass. He then walked around the pond, testing our defenses. The pond was still netted. He would walk up to the net and study it. No gaps, so he would move on to another area. He would sometimes hop up to a rock or decorative feature for a look from high ground. He went around the entire perimeter of the pond, taking his time. He even perched on the back of a chair for a look. Finally he flew away, only to circle around and land on the garage roof, still looking for a way into the pond.
He next flew down to a weak point (so I guess) and attacked the net. Several times he took it in his beak and gae a forceful pull, trying to remove it. Luckily, it was securely anchored, and he was unsuccessful. After thirty minutes he flew off in disgust.
Around 9:30 we removed the netting and the visitors did arrive. We had almost two hundred people stop by between ten and five. A good time was had by all, and the heron did not return during the day. Once the last visitor left, even though we were dog tired, we netted the pond, just in case. We did not see the heron anymore Saturday.
May 13, 2010: Right at ten p.m. we took Sarah for her evening walk. As we walked down the driveway we were startled to see the heron in the cul de sac. It saw us and calmly walked over to Bill and Nicole's house. It got in their front lawn and allowed us (including our fearsome golden retriever) to get within six feet of it before it calmly flew off to alight on their garage roof. At least it didn't fly into our back yard. When we came back from the walk I checked the pond and all was well.
May 10, 2010: During Sarah's evening walk I flushed the heron on 7-1/2 Street, slightly over one block from the house. The heron arose almost at my feet and flew across the street and landed in Sharon's yard. I walked over to the yard and the bird did not fly until Sarah sauntered up to me. The heron then calmly flew away. Yikes.
May 9, 2010: At 6:07 a.m. I went down to get the morning paper and feed Sarah. While I was in the driveway, a heron flew directly over my head, aimed at the back yard. I fed Sarah (she is demanding!) and then went to the back door for a look. It was still pretty dark. However, I could clearly see the heron in the bog. The heron had dark back feathers, a grey breast, a white crown on its face, and white cheeks, surrounded by black. It seemed unafraid. I opened the back door and it walked off behind the oak tree. I lost sight of it while getting the flashlight, but then saw it fly back and land by the steps we put in the pond so Sarah would have a way out if she ever got in. The heron walked on top of the netting on the highest stone in the water and repeatedly dipped its beak into the water. It seemed more like a drinking move than an eating move. Whatever, no fish were caught. This continued for what seemed like forever. Finally, the heron calmly walked out of the water (the net rose up as the weight on it was released) and circled the pond once more. I thought it was going back to the bog to try its luck, but it continued past the oak and searched out other parts of the back yard until it flew away. All this took until 6:30 a.m. Hopefully, twenty minutes spent with no results will deter the heron from coming back, but I doubt it. All those fish so tantalizingly close is too much of a temptation. Also, a check of the netting revealed that the heron poked four small holes in the net. The holes were scattered over a twelve inch area, so no hole was made such that the heron could get to a fish, but this is worrisome.
May 7, 2010: It was straight-up six in the morning as we reached the corner of 7-1/2 and Beverly, two blocks from our house. We were taking Sarah on her morning walk. A heron flew right by us, heading south. Yikes. As we rounded the corner we spied a second heron in the grass on the east side of Beverly. It flew north about a block and landed. It kept an eye on us until a truck drove by and spooked it. We continued our walk, but I told Maria we were going to go in the back gate to check the pond when we got back. Which we did. And there, on the waterfall rocks, surveying the pond with interest, was a young heron. Fortunately, we had netted the edges of the pond and I think the heron was trying to figure out a weakness in our defenses. I let Sarah in the back gate and the heron took off. Maria and I immediately re-stretched the netting so it covered the entire pond, and then we relaxed. At seven the heron was back, checking out the netting for a weakness. I managed to get a picture before it spooked and flew off--for the moment! But the moment did not last long. As I was headed out the back door for work, the heron was back. This time he was on the gravel in the bog filter. He was studying something about the pond. I don't know if he was counting the fish or looking for a weakness in the netting. When I went out the door I let Sarah out to do her business before I left. The dog spooked the bird, I guess, because the heron flew up into the oak above the pond. I continued to approach the pond and the heron, reluctantly, flew from the oak to the garage roof. A mockingbird entered the fray and began attacking the heron. The heron seemed unconcerned. However, I guess it grew tired of the irritation, and it flew off, headed for me. I made whooping sounds and waved my arms, and it flew south, toward the bayou, with mockingbird in hot pursuit. Score: net one, heron zero.
April 16, 2010: On our morning walk with Sarah, we spied a night heron in a ditch. No sure what he was eating. Frogs had returned to the pond Wednesday night with a vengeance. I heard no croaking this morning however. The bad news is that the heron was at the corner of 7-1/2 and Oxford, just two blocks from the house. Yikes. I decided to go in the back gate upon our return to make sure the heron's brother was not feasting in our backyard. No heron, but, also, no waterfall flow. The pump was not working. I noted that the water level was low, but could see no leak. Something caused the water level to go down below weir level. That probably caused the pump to overheat and turn off. I cleaned the skimmer basket (not that full) and rinsed the skimmer filter (not that dirty) and added enough Aquasafe for four hundred gallons. I then put in the garden hose and set the flow timer for thirty minutes of water. We will see.
April 9, 2010: I went out to clean the pond skimmer since the tassles are falling in force and because we would be gone for the weekend. I got everything cleaned and was watering so clay pots on the back porch when I heard a horrible sound from the pump. I ran to the skimmer and discovered that the skimmer was almost dry. I unplugged the pump and tried to figure out what had happened. Nothing seemed amiss, so I added some Aquasafe and put the garden hose in the skimmer box to raise the water level. I then replugged the pump. Even though the hose was on full, the pump kept emptying out the box. This didn't make sense. I didn't know what to do. I went to the line switch by the waterfall to see if that was the problem. I couldn't even turn the switch, but it looked fine. I then noticed that the bioballs had lifted up the rock we had on them and that the waerfall box was overflowing. The pump was working, but the water was going outside the pond. Not good. The other day we had messed with the waterfall box to get oak tassles out. We didn't put the two rocks back. We only put one rock to weight the bio balls down. They are just hunks of sponge, and they rose up, causing the water to overflow as it went around them. I removed everything from the waterfall box, rinsed it and put it back. I removed about 10% of the bio balls so the bags would fit back in more easily. I put both rocks back to weigh them down, and added a couple of extra rocks for security. Everything worked fine. No more problems.
April 6, 2010: The oak over the pond has started its tassle fall with a vengeance. Tassles are everywhere. They seem to fall through the leaf net, at least some of the time. The filter basket has to be emptied twice a week instead of the normal once a week. Yikes. April 4, 2010: The oak tassles have begun to fall. Ugh. The front oak is littering the street. The pond oak hasn't started yet. Leaves are still falling from it, however.
April 3, 2010: On Sarah's morning walk we saw five heron in the Heron Tree. It was just before eight. One heron was by himself and the others were couples near nests.
March 27, 2010: On this morning's walk we dragged Sarah to the Heron Tree for a look. I say "dragged" because she had another route in mind. Farther away from the house. A longer walk. But we prevailed and spied three heron in the Tree. Two were by a nest and one was just sitting on a limb. It was 8:42 am.
March 23, 2010: Nadine brought seven of her goldfish to our pond. We were glad to get them from her. We floated them for thirty minutes, then released them. They are doing fine. The pond looks well-stocked.
March 21, 2010: Yesterday morning it rained, so we cut our walk short and didn't make it to the heron tree. Sunday we made it, but only saw one heron. But for last weeks siting, we would not think the heron were back in force.
March 14, 2010: Today started daylight savings time. This morning, at 7:55 heron time (or 8:55 daylight savings time) we saw six heron in the heron tree. They heron are really back.
March 6, 2010: The heron are back. On our morning walk this morning we made our way to the Heron Tree on Arlington. Maria was first to spot the heron poop on the sidewalk. We looked up and there was a small (female?) heron right next to the remnants of one of last year's nest. This is a confirmed sighting. We have checked the tree regularly this year, and this is the first weekend we have spotted a heron. Of course, in my humble opinion, this sighting also makes the March 2nd sighting much more likely to have been a heron. Be that as it may, for 2010 at least, the heron are back in early March.
March 2, 2010: On our morning walk, around 6:20 a.m., I saw a bird fly over us. I called it a heron, but Maria disagreed. By the time its presence had registered, it was flying away from us, so we could not get a neck profile to be sure. Also, it was flying east, and flapping its wings a lot more than usual for a heron.
December 5, 2009: I saw a heron standing on the concrete side of the White Oak Bayou at about 9 a.m. No visitors to the pond however. Still, it shows they are still in town, even in the cold.
November 7, 2009: We hosted the November meeting of the Houston Pond Society. Brice Hawley brought along a really neat salt meter. It is called the KoiMedic Salt Meter. You just dip the end in the water, swish it around slightly, wait about five seconds, and you get a digital reading. We tried in in the pond. It read .001. We added a carton of PondCare Pond Salt from Nelsons Water Gardens (4.4 pounds) and it raised the reading to .6. A reading of 1.0 is considered the goal. So, in our pond, we will need to add another three pounds or so of salt.
September 5, 2009: It has been a long time since I've made a pond entry. That's because it's been a long time since there have been heron in the neighborhood. That dry spell was broken this morning. Yesterday, it rained eight tenths of an inch in the Heights. Last night, around 5:30 p.m., we were walking Sarah and noticed the sound of numerous toads. I'm not sure where they had been during our latest dry spell, but they were certainly looking for love in the early evening. This morning, at six, we started our walk. Because of other plans, we took our normal weekday walk instead of the longer route Sarah likes on the weekends. We were coming back on Oxford when I spied a heron on the east side of the street, standing near a bar ditch, but on the pavement. It was on 8-1/2 and Oxford. As we approached the heron calmly walked across the street to the west side. There was a bar ditch there also. We stopped and watched the heron for a while, but it just stood still until we passed by. No toads were singing their sexual tunes. But, surely, they were around.
July 29, 2009: This morning, at 6:20 a.m., we were walking Sarah on Beverly at 9th Street. I saw a heron coming from the eastern sky. It flew directly over us, on a path straight for the Heron Tree on Arlington.
July 28, 2009: This morning I changed up my motorcycle route and was headed south on Columbia at 5th Street. That is a four-way stop. Another car and I arrived at the same time. I turned my hear to the left so the car would go through ahead of me (I hate it when cars wave me through) and I spied a heron in the bar ditch. I guess all the traffic spooked the heron, and it flew off to the east.
July 27, 2009: At 7:12 a.m., almost exactly twelve hours after seeing a heron fly over the pond, I returned from my morning motorcycle ride to observe a heron sitting on the garage roof, looking directly at the pond. Of course, I can't be sure it was the heron from last night, but the size and coloration was the same. The bird flew away as I rolled up to the garage door. Looks like the net is staying on for now.
July 26, 2009: At 7:06 p.m. I was sitting on the back porch enjoying the last of the rain and thunder when a big form sailed overhead. Yes, it was a heron, flying over the pond. It didn't seem all that interested, and it didn't circle around. I was beginning to wonder if the heron had left for the summer because we haven't seen any on our walks in a while. I guess they are just visiting other stops for now. Oh well.
July 16, 2009: We are still dog sitting. And we still don't have rain. Thus, around 5:40 a.m. I was in the backyard moving the sprinkler around. I saw a heron flying directly over the pond, from west to east. He was a big one. He was pretty high, and flying pretty fast, so I don't know if he was concerned about our pond, or just checking to make sure the net is still in place (it is).
July 13, 2009: We are dog-sitting Micah this week. Thus, on our morning walk we had two dogs and our attention was mainly directed toward them. It has been four days since we have seen a heron in the neighborhood. This morning we saw one, but we almost missed it.
We had turned westbound on 10-1/2 Street, about halfway through our walk. There is a vacant lot after the first house. We had passed it when I "felt" Sarah stop to investigate something. I turned back to watch for her to finish sniffing when I stopped a large heron standing in the middle of the vacant lot. No ditch nearby. Nothing but grass around him. No sure what he was doing, but I know I would have marked up another day without seeing heron if I had not had to turn back around. The bird was stock-still, and totally unconcerned about the two of us and the two dogs, just yards away.
July 9, 2009: I spotted the heron crossing the road, east to west, on 7-1/2 at Oxford, just two blocks from the house. I say "the" heron because it is the same size as the one we have seen for several days now. Anyway, the heron's movement caught my eye. It went to the bar ditch area and was pecking at the ground. As we walked toward it, a car came by. The heron was not disturbed enough to fly. However, as we got within a fourth of a block, a guy walking an old white golden retriever approached the heron from the opposite direction. We stood and watched to see what would happen. When the dog was less than a house's width away, the heron calmly took off and flew down 7-1/2. I watched to see if he would turn north or south. He turned south, and disappeared into Deb and Lindsey's backyard. It was not yet 6:30 a.m. This heron has really cased the neighborhood. I figure we are next on his itinerary, or we have already had a visit.
July 8, 2009: Today, at 56 seconds after 12:34, it will be 123456789. This morning, at the end of Sarah's walk, we spied a heron in the ditch on the east side of Oxford at 7-1/2. Just standing there. A young one, judging by size. Toads were croaking everywhere, but the heron never made a strike during the time we watched it. When we got home, a quick check of the pond revealed all was well.
July 6, 2009: We spied a heron in Deb and Lindsey's lot this morning as we were leaving for Sarah's walk. Fortunately, no heron in the backyard upon our return.
June 30, 2009: No heron at the pond today. However, as we were finishing our walk, we spotted a young heron walk across Oxford right at 7-1/2 and start hunting in the bar ditch. He caught a toad. Better an amphibian than our fish. Well, better for the fish, at least.
June 29, 2009:
Part One: We got up at the usual time this morning. It was a little after six when we started out to take Sarah for her walk. Just as we were about to go out the door, I quickly walked to the back door to make a heron check. And there was the heron. Standing on the rocks where the bog enters into the pond. Staring. On top of the net. We watched for about five minutes. The heron never moved. He rotated his head, but that was it. Even when I opened the back door, and the alarm chime went off, he was unperturbed. Finally, I grabbed the camera and headed for the pond, to see how close I could get. The heron flew to the building across the fence. I threw a rock in its direction. The rock hit the fence with a satisfying thud, and the heron calmly flew away. I went over to the bog and spotted a large area of heron poop under the green swing. Apparently, the heron had been pond-side long before we came down.
Part Two: We went for our walk, much to the relief of Sarah. When we got back we went in the back gate. A heron was now on the actual net, in the middle of the pond. It flew off as we entered the gate. I hadn't really expected to see heron again this morning, and was caught off guard. I am sure the heron was on the net in the middle of the pond, however, because, as the heron flew off, water off the heron's feet, I am sure the heron got its feet wet. This is the first time that has happened. Also, the net, which we had stretched tightly, rose back up about six inches off the surface of the pond, and water was still in the mesh spaces. Ugh.
As we were inspecting our defenses, I noted that there were five dead frogs on a single rock by the Talavera gazing ball. No parts had been eaten, but there was a two inch diameter of heron poop just off the edge of the rock. Ugh.
Part Three: I thought we were through with heron for the day. Wrong. At about 7:40 a.m., I went out the back door to get to the garage. A heron (I am almost positive it was the same one from earlier) lifted off the true middle of the pond, water drops falling down. Yes, he had been on top of the net. He flew into the oak tree. I yelled at him that I'd had enough of this. He just looked at me and flew to another branch. I walked to the pond, looking for a piece of gravel to throw in his direction. He calmly flew off. This is getting old.
Part Four: At 7:50 a.m. Maria headed toward the back door to feed the turtles. Playfully, I called out, "Don't forget the heron!" Opened the door and yelled that it was back, and had something in its mouth. I ran out the back. The heron was on the building across the back fence. I could see something in its mouth. Not fish shaped. On closer inspection, I saw a leg sticking out. Another frog. The heron tried to eat the frog, but couldn't seem to figure out how to swallow it. Finally it dropped the frog. As I moved closer, camera in hand, the heron flew off to the south.
June 28, 2009: At 7:02 a.m. on Sunday we spied the heron at pond-side. In fact, it was on top of a floating island sedge plant. The net was in place, so it was having no luch. But it was walking on the sedge without concern. I saw the heron make an attack move, probably out of frustration at the net. I ran toward it, yelling. It flew to the roof of the building on the other side of the fence. Maria and Sarah joined me in the backyard. I don't know whether it was the dog or something else, but the heron calmly flew off. Important lesson: plants in a floating island that is right next to the edge of the pond help heron get closer to the fish. The heron are not bothered by walking on sedge. Ugh.
June 26, 2009: It was 6:32 a.m. We were just finishing Sarah's walk. We were on 7-1/2 Street, coming up to Alan and Trish's house. A heron was in their front yard. Deb and Lindsey's house is right next door. I don't know what the heron was doing in the grass, but as Sarah started for it, the heron slowly took off to the east, made a right-hand turn down Mosby Circle, and headed for our backyard. We quickly walked home. We went in the garage gate and the heron was in the bog area. It immediately lifted off and headed south, towards White Oak Bayou. Didn't see anything in its mouth.
June 23, 2009: This morning, at abbout two houses from turning in to the cul de sac. I spotted a heron coming from Deb's backyard. They have a small Italian pond--with fish. The heron was flying slowly, and only about ten feet above the pavement. It headed directly toward us, totally unconcerned about us or Sarah. We got a close view. No fish in its mouth, but I fear for Deb's pond unless she has a net.
June 21, 2009: This Sunday morning we took Sarah for her walk. We have not seen any heron since the multiple sightings on Thursday. We decided to head for the heron tree. We saw one fledgling in the tree. No adults. The time was around 8:40 in the morning.
June 18, 2009: Part One: At 5:50 a.m. I let the dogs out. Yes, you saw the "s" in "dogs." We are dog-sitting Sandy and Sunny, our neighbors' two mixed breeds. I was not sure how long they could "hold" it, so I was in the back a little earlier than Sarah required.
Anyway, the dogs were eager to scoot out the back door. I opened it, grabbed the flashlight, and let the dogs out. A quick check of the perimeter of the pond showed no problems.
Because I was up, I decided to move the waterer to another section of the garden. As I was headed back, a big heron flew out of the oak tree. It must have been there all along. It flew over toward Chris's pool. It had not been spooked by three dogs and one person. Well, maybe it was spooked, but not enough to fly until outdoor activity continued. And none of the dogs barked at it. Ugh.
Part Two: 6:40 a.m.: After returning from Sarah's morning walk, I headed toward the garage to put something up. As I exited the door I saw movement. A heron (it looked like the same one) gracefully flew up into the oak. It must have been pond-side. It was almost as if it jumped up into the tree.
I retreated back into the house and grabbed the camera. There was much more light than on the last photographic attempt. I got several decent pictures of the bird. It was not at all concerned about me. In fact, I was able to walk up directly under the heron and take pictures. The heron was on a low branch, no more than a dozen feet above groundlevel. I threw a pebble toward it. (Clearly, I need to practice throwing). The noise made the heron hop to the next branch. It was still largely unconcerned. Another toss resulted in another hop to a nearby branch. The heron had no inclination to leave. Finally, I threw a pebble and charged the bird, waving my arms and yelling. It calmly flew off toward the WSW. What a morning. Note: all fish seem present and accounted for. The net is still in place. There was a gap around a stand of Taro, but we fixed that. Stay tuned for further adventures.
Part Three: At 9:20 p.m., I was a Chris's house, getting her dogs. We are dog-sitting for the night. I was on her back porch, trying to coax Sandy to let me put a leash on her when I was a heron fly low over the fence, straight into our backyard. It was flying with a purpose.
It took me at least five minutes of game-time before Sandy consented to let me put a leash on her. I immediately went home, got the flashlight, as checked out the backyard. I looked everywhere, but no heron. I know it can be almost impossible to see them in oak trees (we have a big one right over part of the pond), but I looked thoroughly, to not avail. Maybe the heron saw the net and moved on. And maybe the Brooklyn Bridge is still for sale.
June 16, 2009: At 6:12 a.m. we were walking Sarah down 7-1/2 Street. We were just passing Sharon's house when a low-flying heron swooped by, headed exactly in the direction of our pond. Boy, did it look big. It seemed to me that it was considerably bigger than the one that ate the frog yesterday, but it may have been a function of the fact that the heron seemed to be only ten feet or so above us. I'm sure that estimate is an illusion. Because the bird flew over the rooftops, it had to be at least twenty-five feet in the air.
Anyway, we decided not to turn back to guard our pond. We are beginning to realize that heron have probably been around our pond since we put it in. Scaring them off each day is not a realistic option. Nonetheless, we stepped up our walking pace, but it was still after 6:30 when we got back. No evidence of heron.
June 15, 2009: This morning we got up a little before six to walk the dog. Maria happened to look out the back door and spotted a young (smallish) heron at the pond. We watched it for twenty-five minutes, even though Sarah was impatient to get on with the important things in life, like sniffing every shrub in the neighborhood.
The heron circled the pond from the bog garden all the way to the skimmer box. It looked carefully into the pond. Moved slowly. For a long time it stood on the skimmer rock, looking into the water. Last night, we had netted the pond. I was anxious to see what would happen. I wanted the heron to get tangled in the net and warn off all its cousins to say aways from our pond. We did not make noise. We tried to take pictures, but the lighting was too dark. With the regular lens setting, the heron was not all that clear. With the zoom in play, too much light was used up by the lens. The flash couldn't reach far enough. All-in-all, not a Kodak moment.
After sitting on the skimmer rock for some time, the heron walked over to the blue fountain, then back to the skimmer. It then walked around to some black taro. Maria had made a gap between two pieces of black taro so the plant could stick out above the net. She told me that there was a chance that the heron could get a fish at the point to which it was headed, and that she was going to scare it off if it got close. I agreed.
The heron seemed to be studying the net. I guess it found the gap. It moved in to the edge, Maria quickly opened the door, but the heron was faster. It struck like a viper. A dark shape was in its mouth. Maria yelled that it had one of the fish. I could tell it had something.
Even though Maria went outside, the heron was not too disturbed. It simple flew onto the roof just beyond the fence. It proceeded to try to eat its breakfast. The shape did not look right to me. I went outside, camera in hand, and approached the fence. I sat in a wicker chair by the pond. The heron continued to try to gulp its prey. I saw legs. It had a toad, not a fish. The toads regularly swim on top of the pond, and sometimes bask on the rocks on the inside. This toad was doing one or the other, as its last act. The heron was having trouble downing the entire toad. Finally, I decided I had watched enough. I found a small rock and tossed it in the direction of the heron. It hit the roof with a satifying sound, albeit not that close to the bird. The bird calmly flew off, toad in mouth.
I took a look in the pond. The fish weren't even scared. They were swimming around like nothing had happened. Becasue the heron had not actually gotten its feet wet, I guess the fish were unconcerned. The net seemed to work. However, before taking Sarah on her walk, we readjusted the net to close the gap. The taro is on its own.
June 14, 2009: On our Sunday walk today we spotted three baby heron in the Heron Tree. No adults were around. It was about 6:50 in the morning. "Baby" heron are njot small, except in comparison to adult ones. I don't know how to tell if they heron have not yet flown, only that they hadn't flown this morning.
June 13, 2009: Today we took my parents to Nelson's. We bought fish food, Clarity Max and a set of 48 inch-long Corona pruners for the water lilies. When we got back we watched National Treasure and then set out by the pond, drinking wine. At 7:38 pm I spied a heron glide in from the far eastern sky. He was a long way off when I was him, and he headed directly for the oak tree. Clearly (to me), that was his destination. A mockingbird was chasing him the entire flight. And, once the heron landed in the tree, the mockingbird continued to attack him. The heron stayed for less than a minute before taking off to the west.
Maria and I covered the entire pond with netting after this visit. We had removed the net only this morning. Yikes.
June 4, 2009: HERON ATTACK! This morning, while walking Sarah, we spied a young heron on Beverly at 10-1/2 Street. It was in a bar ditch, eating something on the side of the ditch. Maybe a roach. Anyway, it flew off to the west (toward the Heron Tree) once we got about one house away.
That was bad enough, but nothing like what awaited us when we got home. We went in the back gate and into the house. I was at the kitchen sink, washing my hands, when I glanced out the window. I saw a gigantic heron sitting on the fence right above our climbing rose, Fourth of July, staring out toward Chris's pool. A mockingbird was repeatedly attacking it, to no effect. I yelled to Maria that we had been attacked by a heron, and ran for the camera. Unfortunately, by the time I got back, the heron had flown. A check of the pond revealed only two silver mollies. Disaster. No goldfish anywhere. And yesterday we had eighteen! Surely one heron could not wipe out our pond. After emptying the evenings gathering of toads out of the skimmer box, I noted that we have at least three goldfish left. No others were in sight. This means that the fish are either spooked, or heron food. Time will tell.
May 27, 2009: It's been a month since my last entry. This weekend we added extra boulders to two parts of the pond perimeter to make heron entry more difficult. We are having trouble with the electronic owl. It has blown over several times, and now, when fresh batteries are added, it hoots constantly, not just when motion is detected. Ugh.
This morning, at 6:14 a.m., we were walking Sarah down Beverly Street when I felt a big shadow go silently overhead. I looked up and saw a heron headed for a garage roof two houses down on 9th street. The heron landed on the roof as if it was his destination. We watched him peering into the backyard from the roof. I don't know if a pond is there, but he was definitely interested. Yikes.
April 27, 2009: No net on the pond. That means it is vulnerable to heron attack. Ugh. Today on my motorcycle ride I rode by the Heron Tree just before seven. I spied two heron sitting on nests. One was hunkered down as if warming eggs. The other was sitting on the nest, preening itself. It didn't look like it was trying to warm eggs. Still, spring has sprung and babies are surely near. More hazards for our goldfish.
April 26, 2009: Today we took the net off the pond. The oak tree is pretty much finished with its spring leaf and pollen tassle drop. Thank goodness. The net did a great job, although some leaves managed to sneak through. Next year, I want to take special trouble to net the bog area, because several leaves got in between the plants. As wind kicks up, those now dried leaves blow into the pond. Ugh. Also, we need to figure out some way to weave the center seam between the two nets together so there is no gap, as there was this year. Perhaps I will try to order one gigantic net. All in all, netting was a great idea, and I will definitely try it again next spring.
April 19, 2009: My parents are in town, and they want to go to Galveston for breakfast. Fortunately, the rain we have had since Friday afternoon has left. In a thirty-hour period we got 6.3 inches! This morning, it was overcast, but no drizzle. We walked Sarah over to the Heron Tree. It was 7:38 a.m. I saw one heron in the tree. Then, a heron flew in. Hard to miss them when they land in the tree. Within seconds, another heron landed. We watched the two birds, and they walked to their companions. So the count was up to five. The two new arrivals both brought nesting sticks. Maybe the rain had caused damage. The mother birds were hunkered down low. Maybe eggs have been laid? Anyway, just as we were ready to leave, I spied two more herons circling the tree from a good distance. They flew a big loop around the tree, they zoomed in and landed in the oak that is on the other side of the street and two houses down. We walked over for a better look. We could hear them honking away. They looked young. No nests were in the tree. We spied a third heron once we were under the tree. They were making quite a racket, and did not appear happy to see us. We left without waiting to see whether they would fly over to the Heron Tree. All told, we saw eight heron this morning.
April 18, 2009: We had a rose show this morning. We left the house at 5:30 a.m., so I deferred the ride until we got back. On our return, it was just starting to rain again. The rain hit hard at around 3:00 p.m. on Friday, but Saturday morning at 4:30, when I went outside to inspect our soggy blooms, it was not raining. However, the thunder and rain returned by eleven. I watched the radar at weather.com, and slipped out during a lull to get in a short ride. I rode to the Heron Tree, but I could not see a single heron. Of course, having rain hit the visor didn't help.
March 29, 2009: I am headed out of town today for a mediation. This morning, Maria and I took Sarah for a morning walk before I left. We made the Heron Tree our destination, and spent some time studying the tree. Herons have an uncanny ability to disappear among the branches. Today, we circled the tree, checking out various angles. All told, we saw six herons in the tree and one on a tree a few doors down on the opposite side of the street. No nests in that tree. It must have been waiting for us to leave before landing.
March 25, 2009: Well, there goes the threesome theory! On this morning's ride I spied six herons in the Heron Tree. Three pairs. No one was sitting on a nest. All were standing, mostly just next to the nest materials. Hard to say that the nests are "finished." And this morning a front went through and it was 59 degrees at 7:15 a.m. when I rode by. More later.
March 24, 2009: The pond still has the leaf net in place. And the oak is still dropping leaves. The net was a great innovation, and it also gives me comfort that the heron can't get to the fish. Today, on my morning Harley ride, I approached the Heron Tree from the north, heading south. Even though it was 7:01 a.m., and still dark, this route allowed the tree branches to be skylighted, revealing much more detail than normal for that hour. When I realized that the heron were skylined, I took some extra time to study the branches. I spied five heron this morning. That probably means there are three nesting couples now at the tree. Further observation will tell. Maybe we have a threesome.
March 20, 2009: We are headed to Laredo for a visit today. So, I managed to squeeze in a late-morning ride. That brought me to the Heron Tree at 11:38 a.m. This is not a time I normally take a survey of this tree. Today, all four of the heron were at the tree. That makes sense, because, I assume, "night" heron probably hunt during the night. Haven't verified that yet.
March 18, 2009: I took a different motorcycle route this morning and that had me approaching the Heron Tree from the north instead of the usual southern direction. Although it was foggy in the neighborhood, and dark at 7 a.m., the sky was a nice blue and I could see the tree details fairly well. At first, I saw no heron in the tree. Then, movement caught my eye and I saw the two heron near their nest. The nest still doesn't look "finished." As I started to ride away, another movement caught my eye. Two new heron at another nest site. I said outloud, "Good! . . . I think." It was great to see the return of two more heron after so long, but I have very mixed emotions when I think of my fish. Truly, mixed emotions.
March 10, 2009: It was right at 7 am when I rode by the Heron Tree on my motorcycle. Because of Sunday's switch to daylight savings time, it was still dark. Momma heron was sitting on the nest. Pappa heron was on the closest branch. It was too dark to see whether the nest was already finished. I looked as carefully as I could in the dark while balancing on two wheels, but saw no other herons. The norm is for about four heron families to nest in the Heron Tree.
March 9, 2009: I drove by the Heron Tree on my morning bike ride. It was before 7 am, DST, and still dark. Two herons were in the tree, but not on or near the nest.
March 8, 2009: This was the first morning of daylight savings time. That meant that 8 am was really as dark as 7 am yesterday. Nonetheless, when we reached the Heron Tree, we spied two heron in the tree, and one of them was building a nest while the other one watched.
March 7, 2009: Maria and I took Sarah for a walk this morning. It was around 8 am when we reached the Heron Tree. There were two herons in it.
March 4, 2009: Happy 2009. Unhappily for me, I saw the first heron in our neighborhood this morning on my motorcycle ride. I decided to drive by the "heron Tree" on Arlington, and there, sitting calmly, was a lone heron. It was not yet seven in the morning, so his companions may have still been out hunting. This tree is where the heron in our neighborhood nest, and it is six blocks from our pond, as the crow walks. Ugh. Fortunately for me, we have netted the pond in anticipation for the live oak leaf fall, so a heron will have trouble getting to our fish. Keep tuned.
August 16, 2008: This morning we were almost through with our walk when Maria spied a heron flying overhead. Unfortunately for our fish, "overhead" was right on the roof of our neighbor's house. She called out, "There it is." By the time I spotted it, it was flying just west of our garage roof, heading south. Fortunately for the fish, it did not even look down at our pond. But maybe that's because it already knew where it was!
August 25, 2008: No heron at the pond. The owl is back working on motion only. No sound today. We spotted a heron this morning on Beverly Street between 10th and 10-1/2 Streets. He was in the middle of the road. He walked to the grass on the west side of the street as we approached. Because our golden retriever, Sarah, was with us, I angled over to the far east side of the two-lane road. Just as we got even with the heron, a car sped by, with its light on. It was still pretty dark. The heron did not seem concerned by the car. Nor by the dog. In fact, the heron had its back to us, and was only swiveling its head back and forth to keep track of us. It did not fly away as we went on down the road. Pretty tame city birds.
August 13, 2008: No heron at pondside at six. However, on our morning walk, we spied a heron in the middle of Beverly Street, just north of Omar(9-1/2). Ugh.
August 12, 2008: Today I played hooky from the office after lunch. I sat out by the pond, with a glass of wine and read The Harrad Experiment for the umpteenth time. At one point the rain came so hard I had to go inside for the sake of the paperback, but the rain did not last, and I soon returned. I used a fan to keep the humidity and mosquitoes at bay. I also pulled up the tallest rebar (which a bright red dragonfly uses as a favorite perch) and substituted a metal snail, on the theory that the "ears" of the snail would be a nice perch for the dragonfly. It did use an ear at first, but then chose the second highest rebar (which I had left) as its favorite perch. Maybe the straightness of the rebar is what it likes. When Maria got home, we walked to Berryhills, then back home. We then both sat out by the pond and read until it got dark. Ah, the good life.
August 10, 2008: I finished removing the rebar I had used for the fishing line fence around the pond. A very red dragonfly was using one of the rebars as a perch. To accomodate him (or her), I placed a set of three rebars (Maria's idea) toward the back of the pond. I figure that people will think there must be a reason for three rebars, and they are right. The dragonfly immediately assumed his perch. A couple of young women from Maria's office are coming by to view the found this evening. Thus, we took some extra time to spruce it up. I added Ultra Water conditioner and Clarity Max Plus, which is my regular weekly treatment. The pond is very clear, and looks great.
August 9, 2008: No heron lately. We went to San Jacinto Stones and purchased 580 pounds of mossy boulders. That was five large stones and two filler stones. We placed them around the front perimeter of the pond. That raised the front "height" by about three inches. When necessary, I edged them out into the pound so that they were overreaching the stones below. The plan is to make it impossible for the heron to step down from outside the pond into the pond. Right now, the step down is over twelve inches. I don't think the heron will like that. This also allowed me to make peace with Maria and remove the ugly fishing line that was up as a barrier. I must admit that the pond look 100% better. I also got in the pond au naturale, except for my aquasocks, and fertilized the lilies and pruned wayward and dying growth.
August 6, 2008: No heron at pond.
August 5, 2008: By evening, I decided we had nothing to worry about from the winds associated with Tropical Storm Eduardo. I put the artificial egret, and the digital owl back on duty.
August 2, 2008: No heron at pond.
August 1, 2008: No heron at pond.
July 30, 2008: I placed the GatorGuard on a mulch path at the far back of the yard, in full sunshine. By the evening, there was no paint smell left. Maria washed the head, and I placed it in the pond. No herons were seen.
July 29, 2008: No heron at the pond. The GatorGuard arrived today at the office. It is a rubber reproduction of an alligator head. It is life-sized. It has faceted yellow eyes that are startling. It is designed to keep geese away from ponds. I hope it works on heron. Because there was a faint paint smell, I decided to let it cure in the backyard for a day or so as to eliminate the smell.
July 28, 2008: No heron at the pond. However, on our morning walk we spotted two different herons within blocks of the house. At 6:10 in the morning I saw a small heron on Beverly Street just before we walked to 9th Street. It flew off as we approached. But it didn't fly far. It perched on the garage roof of the nearest house. Not sure what it was after. Three blocks later, and still on Beverly, we spotted another heron on the west side of the street. This one was considerably bigger than the first one. It was also fearless. We eased over to the eastern-most edge of the street to pass it. The heron was in the "ditch" edge of the street. There was no water. Not sure what it was after. It watched us pass, but did not fly away. Once we were back at the house, I quickly checked for heron at the pond, but there were none. Nor were there any at 5:50 in the morning, when I had checked before we started our walk. Ugh.
July 27, 2008: The digital owl is still working. No heron today.
July 26, 2008: I checked on the bees and pond today before six. No heron this morning--or this evening.
July 25, 2008: Good news: Still no heron return.
July 24, 2008: No heron has returned, at least when we were watching. Fish do not appeared spooked.
July 23, 2008: I awoke this moring just before five. Sarah was pacing. Just as I was trying to figure out what was causing her to be restless, a giantic flash of lightning filled the bedroom windows. I took Sarah downstairs so she could do her business before the storm hit. A pond inspection revealed the wires were all still in place, and no heron was around. Hard rain hit within fifteen minutes. It is supposed to rain all day. I wonder if heron hunt in heavy rain?
July 22, 2008: We still have fish. I'm not convinced the heron got inside the wire perimeter yesterday. Maria isn't so sure. Regardless, I kept a careful watch on the pond from the breakfast room all night long. Maria was visiting with some friends, so I used the occasion to rewatch The Fellowship of the Ring for the umpteenth time. I love that movie. And, because I practically have it memorized, I could easily keep one eye on the pond during the showing.
When she reurned around ten, we took Sarah for a walk. Then we watched the news. By the time we went to bed, the pond was sill heron-free. Maybe the bird had found another source for his evening repast.
July 21, 2008: I checked for the heron at 5:00 a.m., and then again at 6:00 when we got up to take Sarah for her walk. When we finished (around 6:30 a.m.) we came in the back gate. No heron. I fed the dog and suited up for my motorcycle ride. I left at 6:45. A search of the pond and backyard revealed that all was clear. I returned at 7:30 a.m., and still no evidence of the heron.
When Maria came down for breakfast she told me that the heron had been by at 7:15 a.m. A mockingbird attacked it several times, and ran it away from the pond. However, it returned. It stepped over the bottom fishing line and ducked under the top one. It entered the pond rock edge right next to the white Egret we had purchased to keep heron away. Oh well.
Maria watched the bird for about 15 minutes. It was skittish, and never got a fish. The mockingbird was the only thing it feared, until Maria opened the back door to take a picture and the heron heard the "door open" chime on the alarm. It then flew away.
Monday night I added a strand of fishing line between the previous two, and a fourth line on the top. I have a bad feeling that we will test this system in the morning. Tonight we counded 12 of the 22 goldfish. We have only seen one Calico. They were always slow swimmers. The mollies are still around.
And that's how thing stood until arond 10:15 p.m. I ws in bed watching the weather on TV. Maria called me and I joined her in the sewing room. From the back door of that room one has a view of the pond. As we looked, I saw nothing unusual in the darkness. Maria claimed to see the heron. I couldn't be sure, so I headed downstairs for a closer view. From the back door, it was clear that the heron had returned. He was exploring the new lines. I watched him for a while as he walked around the perimeter. When I opened the door, he quickly walked away from the pond. I could tell he was about to take flight, so, wearing only a t-shirt, I charged him, shouting and waiving my hands in the air. The sight encouraged him to leave post haste.
July 20, 2008: No evidence of the heron. I checked several times during the night and during the morning hours. Maybe I scared him off.
July 19, 2008: I checked at 1:30 am, 5 am, 6 am and 7 a.m. No heron. I ordered a full sized alligator head with glass eyes, a Koi Kastle from Drs. Foster and Smith, and an electronic owl that turns its head when it detects motion and hoots. I paid for express delivery.
July 18, 2008: At six this morning, as is my habit, I walked back to the beeyard to check on the bees. On my way past the pond, I did a thorough check and found no evidence of the heron. However, when I got to the back of the back yard, just at the cactus garden, I spied the heron standing in the grass, fish in mouth. It was still dark. The fish looked a little larger than our fish, and a grey color. Of course, at night, all cats are grey. Yikes. I charged the bird, waiving my hands and shouting at the top of my lungs. The bird looked askance, and took of at a leisurely pace, fish in beak.
I spent my lunch hour on Google, finding out about heron deterients. When I got home Friday night, I strung got our rebar and marked off the perimeter of the pond. It took five stakes. I strung two strangs of 50 pound fishing line between the rebar poles. Time will tell.
July 17, 2008: At a little past seven this morning, I walked out the back door to go for my motorcycle ride. I was running a little late because we had had to water the plants in the front yard. I immediately saw a night heron standing around the Mexican plum. It was not moving. I was in full motorcycle gear, and all of it was black. I called Maria to see. I then ran toward the bird, whooping and waving my arms. The bird took off toward the east. We looked for fish and saw one mollie and two goldfish. I hope the others are just hiding.
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