Observation of the Week, 6/1/17

This crocodilian-eating  Bare-throated Tiger Heron, seen in Mexico by Rolando Chavez, is our Observation of the Week!

Explore nature enough and you’ll come across many indelible sights. Rolando Chavez remembers discovering a Green heron nest when he was a child: “I felt like a great explorer, like Magellan maybe,” he recalls. “The nest was on a branch directly over a lagoon. A patient crocodile waited on the water, intriguing me. What was it doing? Sure enough, a chick in the nest slipped and fell on the water. The crocodile devoured it. A very easy meal. Since then, I have been fascinated with the harmony and the sometimes-cruel balance of the natural world.”

Fast forward to January 12th, 2017 and Rolando observed nearly the opposite scene. He was cruising a calm river through a mangrove forest in Mexico, on the search for the Agami heron, “which is the jewel of the crown, as far as herons are concerned.” Bare-throated Tiger-Herons are much more common in the area, “to the point that their presence becomes somewhat granted and, in occasion, overwhelming. Still, Tigrisoma [Tiger-Herons] is an interesting species, always showing unique behaviors. And they have amazing appetites. As a rule, I always pay attention to a hunting Tiger-Heron,” says Rolando. 

He spotted one about 30 meters away and saw it stabbing the water with its beak, striking at prey. He recounts at first thinking the prey was a male iguana, but 

when the canoe got closer, all of a sudden I realized that the iguana was actually a juvenile crocodile. I watched amazed as the heron struggled to swallow the already limp croc, which went headfirst. I am not sure, but maybe in that moment I reminisced about the Green Heron chick of my childhood. Unfazed, the Tigrisoma went about its business. Eventually, I remembered I was carrying a camera and that the primary function of a camera is to record extraordinary moments, so I fired away. The Tiger-Heron finished swallowing the whole reptilian and we resumed our silent cruising. 

Bare-throated Tiger-Herons range from Mexico into Colombia and, as their common name suggests, a patch of their throat is unadorned by feathers. Like other herons, it wades patiently through rivers, ponds, and other suitable habitat, slowly stalking prey then quickly striking with its pointed bill. It will eat fish, amphibians, mammals, and, of course, crocodiles.

“My current interest is outreach, trying to involve more people on the benefits of watching and enjoying nature,” says Rolando. “The ultimate aim is, of course, conservation. Nature has given me so much that I feel the need to repay the favor...I am also part of an ongoing outreach program in Mexico, called “Tutor Naturalista” which is designed to promote the use of the iNaturalist platform in our communities, and to promote the appreciation of our natural surroundings. The platform has prompted my interest on non-avian species, mainly plants and trees, which for some reason I neglected in the past. It is a whole new world, and it is also fascinating to me.”


- by Tony Iwane

- You can follow Rolando on Twitter and Flickr.

- Crocodilians, by the way, are amazing mothers.

- And yes, Rolando did find an Agami heron that day. 

Posted by tiwane tiwane, June 02, 2017 03:45

Comments

No comments yet.

Add a Comment

Sign In or Sign Up to add comments

Is this inappropriate, spam, or offensive? Add a Flag