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Happy Birthday!



By Nick Kotula, JRA Guest Contributor

I have been thinking about how to see if there are GBH (Great Blue Heron, I’m starting a thing here) chicks at the heronry for quite some time.  Do I get a bunch of balloons and strap them to a lawn chair and float from the Mayo Bridge?  Do I go out and buy a $300 remote controlled plane and ask for permission to buzz the tower?  Do I contact some people that I know and have NASA position a satellite in geosynchronous orbit above the heronry?  Fortunately (for my well being, my wallet, and not getting questioned by the CIA), my wife vetoed all of these ideas.  Instead, I decided to just pay three dollars and go to the top of the Troutman Sanders parking garage with my telescope, a camera, and a dream.
I’m not going to lie to you, taking pictures through a device designed to let me see the rings of Saturn and the Great Red Spot of Jupiter (it is actually fairly great) seemed a lot like bringing a bazooka to a knife fight.  I also felt a little weird on a bright sunny day at the top of a parking garage (no one parks on the top) with a telescope, and the resulting pictures were not fantastic.  However, I was able to snap this shot.  It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that if you look just to the right and down from the stooping back of the GBH you see… a small GBH!  Houston, we have a chick!  (Keeping with the astronomical theme.)  I’d light up a cigar, but I don’t know if it should be an Itsaboy or an Itsagirl…
 Meanwhile, at ground level, the GBHs continue to prowl the waters looking for food.  We’ve already seen a GBH swallowing a whole fish, but GBHs have also been known to eat snakes, frogs, mice, and even rabbits.  Pretty much whatever they can get their bills on.
If you head down to the heronry, make sure you take a look at some of the more human activities going on as well.  Right next to the parking lot is an art walk with a bunch of murals (officially sanctioned murals, unlike some of the other works of art you might see) commissioned as part of the RVA Street Art Festival.  Here’s a picture of one of my favorites.  (For obvious reasons.)
 
Publisher: James River Association on Apr 27, 2012