The horse, the goats and an outraged heron

“Something very odd is going on in that field. Will you take a look at that? Really, it’s hardly decent!”, thinks the young heron, watching the goings-on across the lake.

“Looks fairly normal to me, just a tranquil horse munching some grass…”, thinks the photographer.

“Hang on a second, are those goats? Goats and horses, do they mix? Well it seems they do, and as it happens everyone seems to be getting on just fine”, concludes the photographer.

“Well, you said fine, but you know, boys will be boys, and goats will be goats”, says the horse. It seems that there is a bit of competition for the attentions of a certain lady goat.

“It wasn’t me!”, says one male goat.

“Wasn’t me either!”, says the other male goat.

“Err, that’s not what I saw”, says the young and slightly outraged heron.

“Seen it all before. No big deal”, says the horse. “Think I’ll eat some more grass”.

“Well, spring is in the air”, thinks the photographer. “Wait a minute, we’re in December, we haven’t even had Christmas yet…very strange times we are living through”.

The Debonaire Great Blue Heron

It was a glorious afternoon at the forest lakes by Rouge Cloitre (the Augustinian Priory of Red Cloister, on the outskirts of Brussels). My friend the heron is often there, standing contemplative by the edge of the lake. On this day, he was sporting a nice spikey quiff, giving him a rather debonaire look.

He had positioned himself on a fallen branch, and had been preening himself. Those fluffy feathers at the very tip of his beak give it away.

This is his rather special home, a medieval priory nestled in the woods, surrounded by lakes. Like the medieval monks who once lived here, the heron is rather found of a spot of fishing, as well as some quiet contemplation of course.

The heron at Red Cloister

Red Cloister (Rouge Cloitre, Rood-Klooster), an Augustinian Priory founded in the Middle Ages, lies on the edge of the Sonian forest and the south-easterly neighbourhoods of Brussels. Founded in 1367, it was apparently one of the most prestigious in the Spanish Netherlands, and among other notables the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V stayed here. More importantly for my purposes, the lakes all around are full of fish and waterfowl, and today in the sparkling sunshine the Great Blue Heron was out, patiently stalking his prey in the reeds edging one of the lakes.

The combination of sunshine, water and a light breeze made everything feel very alive, in a way you don’t expect of the last week of November. New life is already in the making, as the tree buds reveal, highlighted against the water in the image below.

The sounds of the reeds and grasses rustling in the wind is very soothing, despite the background buzz of the nearby motorway. Is one ever very far from a road these days?

The heron was successful in his fishing expedition, and I watched him gobble up his snack (or did he watch me watching him?). Sadly this gastronomic moment was not caught on camera, as my battery had died by then. There’s always next time though…