Tony McLean's East Yorkshire Wildlife Diary

Wildlife photography in East Yorkshire

Hard to swallow

Grey Heron - flying with eel

I was watching a group of four young herons a couple of weeks ago when one bird suddenly grabbed a huge eel from the shallows. The eel must have been at least a metre in length and was almost as tall as the heron. The bird struggled with the slippery, writhing creature but eventually made it to the safety of the shore. Almost at once it was surrounded by the other herons, who all wanted a piece of the action. The young bird flew-off with the eel dangling from its beak to another part of the lake that was thankfully, just as close to my position.

The heron took all of fifteen minutes to swallow the eel. Repeated proddings with its dagger-like beak and multiple dunkings in the lake failed to despatch the eel. After a quarter of an hour, the heron finally summoned up the courage to swallow the eel.

The heron may have been replete but it looked decidedly uncomfortable afterwards. It kept sipping water from the lake and repeatedly wiping the eel-slime from its beak on nearby rocks. I guess it was a case of severe indigestion. I was very fortunate not only to witness the whole episode but I was also lucky enough to capture a few hundred frames from the fifteen minute sequence.

Grey Heron with Eel

Grey Heron - swallowing eel

Three young fox cubs have also provided me with some entertaining moments during the recent long hot summer evenings. It has been fun watching them exploring their new territory and chasing each other with their boundless energy.

A pair of fox cubs

Three cubs

Fox cub running

The roebuck has been rather reclusive during the past few weeks so it was great to see it a couple of days ago with its shiny new antlers and beautiful new summer coat.

Roebuck and ducks

Finally, I watched with awe as a young kingfisher hovered in the air like a hummingbird, some twenty feet above the lake. It seemed to hover for ages but in reality, it was only for a few seconds; enough time to allow me to capture a couple of dozen frames. Another wonderful and infrequent sight.

I guess I must be blessed.

Hovering Kingfisher

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4 thoughts on “Hard to swallow

  1. I think you most certainly are blessed, Tony. You see and capture some amazing sights.

  2. Great captures again Tony. Must make a visit

    Kind regards
    Roy

    Many thanks Roy. August is usually a very quiet month. Maybe it’s time to practice my landscapes!

  3. Kyle on said:

    Amazing shots Tony! So in the “hard to swallow” series was that whole eel really eventually gulped down? It looked huge for the bird and was it still desperately wriggling/squirming going down and inside the bird’s stomach?! I would imagine something like that big would have a chance of escaping the gullet? Thanks for the info and keep up the great photos! 😉

    • Hi Kyle: Yes, the Heron eventually stunned the eel so that it could swallow it. But the heron appeared to be quite uncomfortable for quite a while afterwrds! It kept wiping the slime from its beak on nearby rocks and gulping air too!

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