Grey Heron, Kabini -
Meet a bird that not only teaches us the virtue of waiting, but also how to perform seemingly impossible tricks: catching two fish with one beak, for starters. What we see in the picture is a large Grey Heron poised dramatically over a shallow stretch of the Kabini River, plunging his beak in as a pair of fish swim up. What we don’t see is what happened next. The photographer of this stunning image recalls how the Heron swooped down in a flash and came up with two succulent fish and one mighty problem: how to eat one without dropping the other and letting it escape. The photographer, and lesser mortals like us, may have had our doubts, but our Hero(n) had none. He, after all, is the acknowledged Zen Master of Kabini, and solving this fishy issue was just a piece of cake for him. He sublimated the desire for instant gratification, and stood patiently, holding both fish for over ten minutes in his pinkish-yellow beak till they ceased struggling and went still. Then he dropped them both in the water, and calmly proceeded to pick up and swallow each, at his leisure. This patient poacher is found throughout the year in Kabini, but is most abundant when the water level is low. This provides the ideal setting for him to flourish. He can stalk his food when the mood seizes him, or revert to type and stand quietly waiting for fish, crabs, insects, turtle hatchlings, and the odd bird or duckling to be home delivered. After all, when you have a lifespan exceeding twenty five years, the one luxury you have…is time.