Nature on the docks: Jerry

One of my neighbors walks up and down the dock and sometimes perches on my slip to crack open a few mussels retrieved from the Puget.

We named this neighbor Jerry, the great blue heron.

When I first saw Jerry, I thought I was encountering a prehistoric creature. Standing just short of my shoulders, his beak was larger than I expected and looked as though it could pierce skin. I had never been five feet away from a blue heron before and while intimidating, Jerry had a nice presence in the marina.

According to the Department of Ecology, great blue herons indicate that the Puget Sound is healthy. At four feet tall, the heron uses it’s bill as tongs to grab small fish in the marina.

I sometimes come home from work and see him perched on a rock at low tide, fishing. When he flies by, he gives a loud honk.

One night, I was talking on the phone and came across Jerry on my way up the dock walkway. Jerry was standing right at the base of a bridge that connects the dock to the parking lot and I needed to pass him.

We both eyed each other and slowly put one foot in front of the other, moving in a circle. As if we were facing off for a Western shootout, we kept eye contact. When we both knew neither would make any sudden movements, we walked on.

The last time I saw him, I was sunbathing in my cockpit and I looked over to see him three feet from me, majestically looking at the water from my slip.

Not wanting to spook Jerry, I just sat there without moving an inch. After about five minutes of just staring at this incredible bird, he flew somewhere else in the marina.

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