It’s official—Spring is here! Yeah, I know, the weather here in Georgia has been beautiful for a couple of weeks now, all the spring flower are blooming, and the pollen has spread a thick coat of florescent yellow powder over everything. But you wanna know how i really know it’s Spring? The Great Blue Herons have returned to nest on “Heron Island”.
Every year, right about the middle of April, HK and I take the boat out of hibernation on Lake Lanier in the North Georgia mountains. The first stop on our agenda is a tiny little island about the size of a 7-11 store, that is covered in scrubby, tall pine trees. Keeping a respectable distance, we cut the engine. We look, we listen, and we wait.
Suddenly, we catch sight of a long, narrow figure lifting above the tops of the tree canopy. Shaped like a graceful question-mark, it is the head and neck of a Great Blue Heron, peering out of it’s twiggy nest. We both fall completely silent. Straining to listen, we hear harsh croak of the mighty birds. It always seems like once we’ve heard that first call, the chorus begins with gusto. Klack Klack Klack…This tiny little speck of land surrounded by vast amounts of open water suddenly comes to life, it seems to be moving on it’s own with the activity of the colony preparing their nests for the upcoming birth of their babies.
During the day, we often find ourselves watching them from the distance for hours as they come and go, delivering sticks, leaves and whatever other materials they need to build their impressive nests.
During the evenings, after sunset, it is a real treat to quietly motor towards the island and listen to their banter while gazing at the stars above. If we close our eyes, it’s easy to imagine ourselves in a different world, a different time, light-years away from the metropolis that we call home.
The herons return every year. And every year, it is a thrill to welcome them back. That’s how we know it’s really Spring.