I’ve become fond of an egret that fishes from a low bridge over the Medina River, not far from my house. He (or she, who knows?) likes to perch on the edge and watch for fish as they pop out from under the bridge. I’m no egret, but I bet fish can be caught by surprise that way.
The egret has a great blue heron fishing buddy. The heron fishes by wading in the river so the two of them usually go about their business without bothering one another. I suppose they compare catches and tell fish stories later, after their hard days at the office.
I’ve watched these two for enough years that it’s possible I’ve seen several generations pass by. If so, the parents taught the children well. The egret continues to fish from the bridge most of the time and the heron fishes from the river. If the water level in the Medina gets so low that the flow under the bridge shallows out the egret joins the heron in the river. Other times the egret just seems to want a change and fishes near the shore. The birds seem equally comfortable fishing on opposite sides of the bridge or shoulder to shoulder.
Those two birds, or their descendants, have made it through a lot of changes in the 18 years I’ve crossed that bridge. Traffic has increased but the egret doesn’t flinch when cars go by. The biggest change came when parking was severely curtailed. River crossings in our area had started to become crowded on hot summer days so parking near the crossings was made difficult. It’s rare to see anyone cooling off in the river these days. The birds didn’t seem to care about the crowds, but they don’t seem to miss them either.
That egret and heron are the desktop photo on my notebook computer. An old photo looking upriver from below the bridge is on another computer. It would be harder to take those photos now. The parking restrictions have complicated all river access, not just big summer crowds. I might not want some of the photos now, anyway. Someone has attached a huge “No Trespassing” sign to the signature boulder and sullied the view.
I’ve heard that the bridge is scheduled for replacement. I can understand why that would be a good thing. The existing bridge is a glorified low water crossing, and if I had to cross the bridge to take the quick way home I’d hate to make the long detour when high water closes it. But I’ll miss that old bridge.
I hope the egret and heron make it through the change. They’ve handled a lot together. I’m betting the egret will figure out another good way to fish when there’s a new bridge. He got fishing from that old, low bridge down to a science.
(A previous version of this story was posted in The Bandera Prophet.)
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