Hotel Breakfast

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

Some hotels offer guests a free buffet breakfast. The hungry traveler can fuel up there for the day’s adventures. This Great Blue Heron first caught my eye as it stalked the field in the southeast corner of the park shortly before 8 in the morning. Finding nothing of interest, it soon took wing and landed near the paved trail along Spinnaker Way. That didn’t have what it was looking for either, and it walked through traffic across Spinnaker Way and stalked the weedy berm on the north side of the Hilton hotel parking lot. There it soon caught a careless gopher, a big fat one. The bird flew with its meal in beak to the water, where it probably dipped its prey to get it wet and easier to swallow. By the time I was able to get to the scene, the bird had dispatched the gopher and was rinsing its beak. (Like many other birds, the heron can unhinge its jaws to swallow hefty prey.) It then flew a short hop across Marina Boulevard and tried its luck on the eastern border of the parking lot. Not five minutes after its first strike, the bird caught a second gopher, more modestly sized, and quickly swallowed that one. The bird then stood quite tall and still, probably thinking about what it might do with the rest of the day after that big hotel breakfast.

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