Grey Heron as Night Falls in Paris

Grey Heron as Night Falls in Paris

The leaping of a fish makes a soft splash that would be inaudible amid the hubbub of the area around the Eiffel Tower, but for its incongruity. It’s that which makes me turn, that surprising sound of a creature entering the water, the caress of murky water on scales. Voices, sirens, footsteps, music and the general loud hum of a huge city do not drown out this silken sound, and I gaze to where ripples in the dark water radiate outwards. This is confirmation enough of the event; a second fish leaps, after insects I must assume, and the falling twilight catches for one millisecond on the slick skin. My tired mind registers the size of the leaping fish, does a swift search for a possible candidate: carp, for sure. These ponds must be receptacles for all kinds of rubbish, and carp are the most resilient of watery beings.

I turn, to focus on what I am meant to be doing, turning my back to the water. Yet as I do, out of the corner of my eye, I see her, perfectly poised and unconcerned by the tumult around:

A grey heron, feathers shades of grey and white, long beak sharp and angled ready to strike.

She watches the water, seeking her meal amid the coffee coloured murk of the city pond. I sense that she is aware of us, but is unconcerned and finds us of no relevance, and she does not turn from her fishing.

I watch for a few moments; it occurs to me that should we all vanish, the herons and the other birds and beasts, would soon take back territories that were once theirs alone.

In a city that is pushing to 11 million people, I cannot help feeling that the flora and fauna we marginalise still have more claim to the land than we do, and they live more lightly than we.

6 thoughts on “Grey Heron as Night Falls in Paris

  1. It’s nice to know there are fish in the ponds – that the water can sustain life. Animals are amazing in how they can work around us interlopers. Not all, of course. We humans are hounding specialised beasts like koalas into the long dark of extinction. But those that can adapt, do well. Foxes, rabbits, sea gulls, ibis, ospreys. You know I would’ve noticed your fishing heron, Viv, probably would’ve taken a picture. For me, a happy accent in a city. I don’t like cities; no, not even Paris.


    • I would have, but was by this point so tired, I couldn’t remember I had my camera. I’m not fond of cities, even ones as beautiful as Paris, but there are moments like this that reconcile me.


  2. Your heron reminds us how strong nature is, and even that humans are part of nature, not separate. Our cities make us forget that all around us are fellow creatures with similar basic needs. If we destroy their environment, we destroy ours as well.


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