With a very healthy population of Mozambique Tilapia at Intaka Island, I’m always amazed that I’ve never seen these fat fish being scooped up by the Herons or the Raptors that pass through the wetland reserve.
I made my way to the bird hide very early on Saturday morning. There was not much going on when I arrived, but it all changed pretty quickly.
I saw the resident Purple Heron hanging around in the shallow water. His gaze was sternly focussed on the water around him. The Purple Heron had assumed his striking pose and stood still as if it was a statue.
The next moment it struck!
There was a lot of slime and goo in the water which resulted in very slimy fish. The Purple Heron managed to catch the fish, but struggled to hold on. A few minutes later the Purple Heron attempted another hunt, but once again it failed.
This was the first time that I had seen any of the Herons catching fish. It was very entertaining and I decided to sit tight and hope that the Purple Heron would make one more attempt at catching some breakfast.
Sure enough, the Purple Heron got back in the game. This time he managed to catch a fish and hold on to it, despite all the debris in the water. I couldn’t believe my luck. The Purple Heron managed to make quite the catch.
The Purple Heron proceeded to make its way out of the water with its prized catch. With some bigger Herons in the area, any catch needs to be consumed immediately. The Purple Heron made its way on to a nearby bank and decided to eat its meal there.
It was fascinating to see how the Purple Heron swallowed such a large fish. It repositioned the fish a few times, without dropping it, ensuring that it could be swallowed with ease. The Purple Heron opened its beak wider and tossed the fish up and proceeded to swallow the fish whole. It opened its throat and swallowed the fish with one large gulp.