I love to watch, and often hear before I watch, the belted kingfisher. On the river, if you are in a kayak or other quiet vessel, you can hear this bird, which, it seems to me, must chatter as it flies. The bird perches on the limbs, overhanging the water, and watches for a form down below; watches, and waits, and dives for a meal.
Also seen often is the wonderfully large blue heron, who drags his feet behind him as he flies. Once, while kayaking near Round Bottom (mile 106-107) at night, I came upon a heron but didn't know it. With a loud crow-like call, the great bird flew off of the tree branch over my head.
Scared the heck out of me. Funny how fear puts an indelible impression on our pasts. Reminds me of the time I came across a man, his wife and son in a small boat near Uffington (mile 105). This is just a couple miles below Hildebrand Lock and Dam.
I was swimming across the river and noticed that the people were getting out of the boat, way out in the river. I mean it looked like they were doing an abandon ship. So I took The Monitor across and sure enough, their boat was sinking. The wife, sitting like nothing was wrong while the water rose around her pudgy ankles, was saying some rather unkind things about her husband, the son was looking as if he'd like to see both parents drown, and the husband was, in chest deep water, trying to push the boat up on the bar that is right off of Booths Creek. I hooked up with them, got in the water, and we managed to find the leak. The man looked to me like he was going to need cardiac care right away....
Well, turns out this was the guy's birthday present and its maiden voyage under his command, and, well, he didn't know about the drain plug in the bottom that ought to be plugged up before being launched....
So, we stuck something in the hole, the man bailed, while the wife kept up the disparaging remarks and the son looked on in despair. We got her to float pretty well and I towed the wreck and her near castaways to the boat ramp. But back to the issue of fear. I told them - for as their savior I was in a position to give advice, that they should be happy. "Years from now, you'll remember this outing," I preached. "Had nothing happened, you'd a had a nice boat trip, but nowhere near so precious a memory as this event has been."
I think they thought I was a jerk, but I believe in looking on the bright side. Might as well, the other side is pretty grim.
Well, I'd meant to talk about the little green heron some, but that fear story rolled out, and I'm a little pressed for time right now. I'll come back to that one. By the way, the blue heron isn't blue and the green heron isn't green.