Challenge: Write (in any form you desire) about birds.
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As soon as I read Pamâ€™s challenge I knew what I was going to write. I have a ton of bird stories, but this one just leaped off the page at me. Iâ€™ve frequently mentioned that my son Greg and I camp regularly and, normally, in the desert. This story, however, takes place in Yucaipa, California.
Why Yucaipa? On our trip to Oregon we stopped at Whistlerâ€™s Bend campground in Oregon and found they had a disc golf course. If youâ€™ve never heard of it, disc golf is played with Frisbees and has quite a following. In early 2009, Greg found that the Yucaipa Regional Campground had a disc golf course and he asked me if I wanted to go. Hmm, do I want to go camping? Yep, on April 29 we were checking in and Greg had a lot of fun trying to get a â€œSenior Discountâ€ based on the fact that I was so old. Didnâ€™t work.
We played disc golf the next day and Greg stomped me 76 to 109.
As we walked around the golf course and all around the campground we noticed there were gopher holes all over the place. And I mean that literally; there were dirt mounds every six or eight feet. The gophers were so accustomed to people that theyâ€™d keep digging close to us. Twice we had a gopher stick his/her head up not more than twenty feet from our table, look around, and then dive back down and keep digging.
On the last day we saw something that was really cool and almost unbelievable. Just after eight, Greg went to the head and, while he was in there I saw what appeared to be a Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) walk out of the treeline on the other side of the restrooms. It poked along across the open grass and then into the trees next to the road. It stopped at the road and actually seemed to be looking both ways before walking across the road and into the trees just thirty or so meters from where I was standing.
Greg came back up about the time the heron walked across the large grass field to the northeast of us. We watched him for about ten minutes and he went into the higher field and we could see him only from about the knees up. He looked very muchÂ like he was stalking something. Silly, right. Suddenly his head darted down and he came up with a gopher in his beak! We watched a kill as he stood there and had his breakfast. After that he started stalking again, but moved too high in the field for us to see anything else.
Researching this I found an article that said the grey heron fed mainly on fish and frogs, but would also take small mammals and birds. It also said that the bird would wait motionless for its prey or slowly stalk its victim. Yep, that was certainly the case.
Oh, one cute moment. After Greg came back from the head I pointed out the heron and asked him, â€œDidnâ€™t you say that was a grey herring?â€ Okay, as soon as I said it I realized I had goofed up.
Greg, true to form, couldnâ€™t give me a break. â€œNo, I said heron. A herringâ€™s a fish.â€ To give him his credit, he didnâ€™t rub it in and didnâ€™t mention it again.
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