Paddling with Herons
Paddling a kayak alone at night, hugging the coast, watching as the streetlights extend into the privacy of the darkness can be surreal. Sharing in the safety of the lights and noise of the shore but with the freedom to wander out to the obscurity of the night is a freedom available to many but taken by few. Land sound is muted and separate, and your space becomes uniquely ‘yours.’
When weariness causes you to place stroke after stroke without conscious thought. A mental state of complete acceptance completes the circle of you, your boat and the sea. It is a moment of sublime contentment; until the surprising moment, you meet a vocal heron.
In our local waters, grey herons are commonly seen standing in the shallows. They are large birds, pterodactyl in flight with long legs, grey with black and white feathers. They stand in the shallows of the loch fishing for fish, frogs or little animals such as voles or even an occasional duckling.
Although grey herons are solitary birds, I am convinced they complete some sort of training where they are taught to watch for night-time paddlers. You have never known fear until you’ve been accosted by a heron. Leaping and screeching from behind a rock, their massive wings used to full effect, they beat the air to a backdrop of screams as it strives to achieve it’s most favourable effect on humans; the near loss of bodily functions and a definite finish of any oneness with the sea.
Surprisingly, despite the near criminal assault of night kayakers, Grey Heron numbers are doing just fine and are in no need of our support. However, if you would like more information on herons here are a couple of links:
Should you feel paddling a kayak is something you would like to do, then please don’t paddle alone. Get some training, here is the BCU link to find out where your nearest training base is: