Blue Heron vs. koi . . . don’t bet on the fish

I love all wildlife and living in the centre of a small city I’m usually excited when I see something wild in my backyard.  But you see, I have a koi pond behind my house, so when I saw a great blue heron sitting on my neighbour’s roof the other day, I wasn’t happy.

The timing couldn’t have been worse.  We were just about to leave for a four day camping trip.  The dog was in the kennel and there was no one to watch over the pond.  People came out and gawked at the huge bird that was obviously eyeing my pond.  After a short while, the bird disappeared and I optimistically reasoned that it had flown to the nearby river where fishing might be less of a public spectacle.  Then, as I was packing the car with camping equipment, the bird returned and landed on the fence, a mere few metres from the pond’s edge.  I chased it out of my yard, but it flew around in my head during the whole camping trip.  I dreamed of  returning to an empty pond with fish carcasses strewn across the lawn.

When we actually did return home, the first thing I did was check the pond.  The fish were acting skittish, but everything seemed okay until I noticed one koi floating dead in the reeds.  After netting and examining it, entry and exit wounds made it clear that it had been speared.  I later netted the remaining fish and found them all accounted for, but two had small nick wounds in their sides which led me to believe that it too was the work of the heron.  Damn you heron!

The dead fish wasn’t my nicest or my largest or my oldest, but it was one of the prettier fish in my pond.  I picked it up as a very young fingerling years ago, very cheap, and I thought that it might develop into a Tancho (white koi with a red circle on its head).  After a year or so, it did indeed develop the marks of a Tancho and later its back turned a metallic grey, thus making it a fairly rare Tancho Kujaku koi which, to us koi geeks, is sort of special.

Well, here is the problem with amateur koi keepers: we buy our fish cheap and young, and when they grower older and more sizable, the fish gain in value to an amount that we ourselves would never think of spending on a fish.  To replace this particular koi would probably cost over $400.  And I won’t replace it . . . at least not with a replica.  I do intend to console myself by doing a little koi shopping over the next few weeks.  I’ll leave you with an image of a Tancho Kujaku — not the one I lost, but one pretty much like it.

Explore posts in the same categories: Desiderata

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