Jordan Lake Dam, Haw River, Friday, August 7, 2020.  The Haw River within the riprap was full of striped bass.  The ospreys were feasting!  This male osprey made quite a large catch.  To my eye it seemed that there was as much fish as there was bird as the osprey flew past.

Jordan Lake Dam, Haw River: As a veterinarian, I have a lively interest in anatomy.  An owl can do a 270° head turn without hurting themselves.  Most birds can get between 180° and about 200° rotation.  I think some birds are just more flexible than others … especially the raptors.  This is a fledgling black vulture, this morning at the dam, doing close to the 270° head turn of an owl.  The series starts at the upper left and goes clockwise.  The photo with the red border is the furthest reach of the turn.  Quite a flexible neck!

Jordan Lake Dam, Haw River: Great blue herons are very territorial, and are that way from the moment they fledge from the nest.  Each bird wants his share on the shoreline … and will fight to maintain control of the area.  The fledgling great blue heron tried to land on the shore of the riprap.  He was promptly flattened by a subadult great blue heron – about 1 1/2 years-old – who had a stake on that piece of property.  The ensuing fight was loud and quite aggressive on both sides.  The fledgeling is the one whose head is mostly a mottled brown and the subadult has a lot of white on his face and the beginning of the black striped cap of an adult.  Neither bird seemed worse for the fight as the fledgling, for the moment relinquishing thoughts of acquiring the piece of shoreline, headed for the opposite side of the river.  It finally got quiet on the riprap.

The sun was hot and bright.  The Haw River was running gently.  A great blue heron fledgling was fishing … sometimes he got his fish … sometimes he missed.  Practice is both the key to the catch and the key to getting the fish from the front of the beak to inside the beak and down the throat!

 

Jordan Dam, Haw River: How does a great blue heron go about swallowing a fish that is bigger than his own head and throat? Remembering that birds are living dinosaurs and therefore closely related to reptiles, I think the birds work at relaxing the muscles of their jaw and throat until they can work their way around the fish. You will see several pauses while this fledgling heron goes utterly still – I think that is when he is resting and allowing his muscles to stretch. That’s my take on the situation. He also occasionally dips the fish back into the water to keep it wet and maintain its slipperiness. The whole episode took more than 10 minutes … I have put up only the last part of the heron’s work. As to the trash, I wish people were more careful about the environment and took their trash out with them.