"After the Thunderstorm at Critter Cove"

Pat Fish

I heard the soprano call of the osprey just as I stood on my deck tossing peanuts to the greedy blue jays and squirrel-rodents. Of course, I looked up, hopeful that he would plunge into the waters to catch a fat carp. This will never be a sight that would bore me.

The osprey flew up over the cove waters, those huge wings flapping lazily for a thorough search.

The setting of this incident is of some import. It was just after a thunderstorm had roared through Merryland, scaring my dog to death and bringing in cooler winds. The cove waters, as they do in the rain, emitted a foggy mist that hovered above the water in spooky tendrils. It looked, as it always does, like the Lost World in the Lost Cove.

From the corner of my eye I see another huge set of wings flying almost along side the osprey, and I am now double happy that BOTH ospreys are down here for some fishing.

Only the other set of wings did not belong to an osprey. They belonged, instead, to the cove's great blue heron. I was surprised that the heron was flying alongside the osprey. The heron does his fishing from a standing position while the osprey fishes in flight.

And before I could assimilate all of this avian input, the great blue let out a scream that will echo forever in my ears. I am not unfamiliar with the squawk of the great blue. It is loud and quite scary. But I don't think I've ever heard a heron scream quite like this. He was mad, mad, mad. Madder than I think I have ever been in my human life.

And in his anger, the great blue flew right over to the osprey and BIT HIM ON THE WING!

Now my jaw was touching my toes and the only thought rolling around in my human head is just why *I* am the only one to see this most amazing thing.

Though my jaw was temporarily removed from my face, my eyes continued to focus and it was even more amazing.

The great blue is a bird that takes forever to take off from land, but when he finally achieves flight, it requires only a few giant flaps from those huge wings to propel him darn near halfway across the Chesapeake Bay.

The osprey, on the other hand, is not as fast a flier, as his fishing technology requires that he soar lightly and hover over his prey.

So after the great blue let out this hellacious scream that melded perfectly with the fog tendrils for our Steven Spielberg scenery, and BIT the osprey, I lost my jaw completely as the two birds raced down the cove. The osprey was no match for the heron in flight and the heron continually attacked by snapping at osprey wings with that long heron beak.

I was befuddled by this sight as I had never seen a heron attack another bird. Then it occurred to me, as I was trying to find my jaw somewhere on the deck floor, that the osprey was a contender for the same food supply as the heron, even if they use different fishing technologies to obtain their supper.

Just then the screen door of my neighbor screeched open and she ran out to the deck.

"What the heck was that scream?" she called out.

Since my jaw wasn't yet back in place, I could only point to the sky that still held a heron chasing an osprey around in circles. The osprey, for his part, was struggling to get away from the insane heron that kept biting his wings.

The neighbor looked in the direction of my point and exclaimed "What's this, the heron is chasing the osprey?"

She too had never seen such a thing and we are all quite used to ospreys and herons here in Critter Cove.

I finally found my voice and told her that the scream from hell had come from the great blue heron who was mad -- my Lord he was mad -- at the osprey who would steal his fish supper.

We concluded the encounter by remarking that should Stevie Spielberg ever need a setting for his next movie, he need only come here to Critter Cover right after a thunderstorm.