Big Breakfast… Almost
This morning I was watching this egret fishing at the edge of an oyster bed in the salt marsh during low tide.
As soon as I saw him flapping his wings and dancing around looking all excited, I knew he saw something he wanted which generally turns out to be a nice fish.
The egret did indeed pluck a good size fish up out of the water which would have been an excellent breakfast. He seemed extremely happy with his catch, and even did a funny little hop move over to open water, apparently to finish his meal.
He started to swallow the fish down and I fully expected him to do just that. But what the egret did next quite frankly shocked me more than a little. He bent down and gently placed the fish back in the water and, as best as I could tell, the fish swam away to freedom.
This egret may have decided that the fish was too big to get down, although he seemed to be a full sized adult bird and should have been capable of eating a fish that size.
I was so surprised I stopped taking pictures and just stood there and watched expecting the egret to go back after the fish. But all he did was pace around for a bit then fly off.
I suppose the fish was too much to handle so no big breakfast for this egret today.
The whole series is so interesting and such a pleasure to view.
Thanks Charlie glad you liked seeing the egret in action.
That fish looked like it was well within the size limits an adult Great Egret can handle. Very strange behavior indeed.
I was shocked he didn’t eat that fish. The GBH sure would have.
So entertaining. Love these.
Thanks so much!
I love this post. I’m sure the fish pleaded for mercy, and the egret was feeling generous for once. Oh happy day! Great series of pics, Phil. 🙂
I guess every once in a while the fish wins one!
Amazing. A conservation minded egret. What next?
Just when I think I have them all figured out they do something new to surprise me. Well that’s another thing that keeps me going out there all the time.
Was the egret trying to wet the fish again in order to swallow it more easily and it got away? Either way, it was certainly that fish’s lucky day!
They often will dip a fish back into the water to re-wet it again and especially if they drop the fish in mud they like to wash them off. But in this case the fish did not get away, the egret intentionally placed it back into the water with every chance to go after it again but simply walked away. The fish was not dead or dying either, it was fully alive and kicking. I know they don’t like dead fish, but again, not the case here.
This fish had a really large head so I strongly suspect the egret just didn’t think he could comfortably get it down.
So now that fish has a wild and crazy story to tell all his friends. ☺
What an interesting sequence. It did look a big ungainly for the egret. Maybe it gagged him! Eek! 🙂
I know. It’s a little bit of a disturbing thought! 😮
Great Shots, lovely bird, and smart bird, he eats better than I do!!! I would love to join him for lunch sometime…only would not swallow a whole fish in one shot….but maybe there are many more where that one came from…….and he gets his fill…Thank you!!!
I’ve had that same experience when faced with a chili cheeseburger. Sometimes you get the feeling it would be best to just walk away. 😀
My first thought on the first picture was “tip-toeing through the tulips.”
He’s tip toeing through the oysters. That’s gotta be rough on the paws. 🙂
“Compassion” at its finest :D. After all the egret did lay the fish back down gently. Hope this fish lives a while and not as another’s meal soon after.
There were a few other birds around and I thought for sure this fish would end up as dinner for somebody, but he may have actually escaped with a story to tell. 🙂