It’s getting dark earlier and earlier, and we got a later start than I had intended.
When my son got home from work, he asked if I had gone for a walk today. I told him that I hadn’t, but I was thinking that I’d like to go to a nearby and familiar heron spot some evening to see if maybe I could spot a night heron. He said he’d like to join me and do it tonight.
Unfortunately by the time we finished dinner, did a minimal clean-up job, and drove to the Old Plank Road Trail, the sun had already set, and I knew it would be hard to see anything but the almost-full moon. We decided to walk anyhow, and I’m so glad we did.
It was a lovely evening and the western sky was beautiful to look at as we walked the mile to the marsh.
As we approached the marsh, we heard loud squawking and saw a large bird up near the top of a leafless tree. Although it was too dark to make out anything but a silhouette, with the binoculars we could easily see an owl moving his head from side to side. I’ve never seen an owl outside of captivity, so I was thrilled.
We stood watching him for awhile until he flew off, and then we peered over the dark lake. We saw mostly geese, but did see a silhouette of a great blue heron.
My big plan to see night herons was a bust. Obviously, one needs to see night herons during the day if one is to see them at all! Apparently, it also needs to be lighter in order for me to operate my camera, because my photo of the lake is also a bust (but I still rather like it).
As we were walking back to the car in the dark with most of our light coming only from the moon, I remembered a book that my kids read when they were little.
Owl Moon, the 1988 Caldecott Medal winner written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by John Schoenherr, is a lovely, quiet picture book about a child who goes out on a snowy night with her father to try to see an owl.
I reread the book when I returned home. In addition to the beautiful watercolor illustrations, I love the repetition of the phrase, “When you go owling . . .
- you have to be quiet”
- you have to make your own heat”
- you have to be brave”
and then after they see an owl:
- “you don’t need words or warm or anything but hope.”
My son didn’t remember the book, but that’s okay; he said he’d gladly go night-walking again.