The Flight of the Heron
There is a river, the Hondu, that runs into the River Usk, beside the town bridge in Brecon. At this time of year, I will often see the Heron standing tall, slim, long-legged and completely motionless, like a sentinel on guard. A large, grey elegant bird, with long yellow legs and steely silver eyed, he will stand, hour upon hour, on guard, waiting for that precise moment, when in a split second, a fish may pass within range of his dagger-like bill. He may look totally still, almost asleep, but make no mistake, he is absolutely alert, after all he needs that fish. I have seen this bird in the bleakness of Winter, when the skies are gunmetal grey and the snow starts to fall. I have seen those white flakes fall on his feathers as he remains standing, still there, white on his grey plumage, but no movement, not a breathe, just waiting for the moment when a fish will come.
Everything about this bird intrigues me. It is beautiful, slim and elegant. It flies with its long legs stretched out behind and its extended neck elongated to the front. It flies effortlessly, smoothly, like peaceful poetry, on its spoon shaped wings, travelling up to 50 mph, to its remote heronry, many, many miles away. The Heron is a success story. Whilst I witness the decline of many of the birds prevalent during my childhood, the Herons’ numbers are on the increase. Well done, I say to my old grey friend.
Photograph by Matthew Stadlen