One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
by Phil Breidenbach
(pictures will enlarge when clicked)
It was a little after 2 in the afternoon and I was walking on a path in Boyce Mayview Park, located in Upper St. Clair. I was on the first portion of the Wetlands Trail. It is a wide trail that slowly ascends alongside a wooded hillside. As it levels off, it takes you to the edge of a valley and a steep decent that is made easier by a wooden ramp built into the edge of the hill. After a couple switchbacks, you are level with the lake in the wetland.
The trail near the lake is called The Duckbill Trail. It encircles the lake and has a couple observation areas along the way. You can see the lake through the brush, a bit dirty looking at its far edges, but clear and sparkling in the center, reflecting the blue sky above. Where the Wetlands Trail meets the Duckbill Trail, you can go in either direction, I choose to head to the right, towards the observation area.
As I neared this spot, I heard a splash and saw the unmistakable shape of a Great Blue Heron, flying away from me, its reflection mirrored in the water below. Of course, the camera was turned off and by the time it had fired up, the bird was long gone into the distance.
Looking around, the view from the observation area is nice and peaceful. There were lots of little coves in the lake along with a couple islands. Reeds and shrubs surrounded it, overflowing into the water, providing lots of nice reflections. There were no sounds from the near-by roads. I had the place to myself!
Looking for dinner
Getting ready to strike
As my gaze worked its way around the lake, I saw another heron! Standing still as a statue, it was watching the water waiting for some dinner. It was so still, I almost missed it. Every so often, he (?) would take a slow, careful step forward and then freeze again. In a little bit, he would repeat his steps. Slowly, his neck started stretching out from his body, he had seen something. Lightning fast, he pounced, his neck stretched out, his wings held high to balance him, his head entered the water and came out holding a fish. He lifted his head and it disappeared down its throat.
Then, right back into his hunting stance. Walking back towards the shore, like an ostrich his knees bending backwards, he slowly worked his way towards his next catch.
My time was running out, work would be starting soon. I needed to head back to the Jeep. I walked back to the Wetlands Trail and the hillside. Through the bushes, I could see the heron, oblivious to me, waiting for the next fish to come into striking distance. I took a couple more shots of him and then hurried up the hill to the car. Work was waiting...like the heron.
When I was telling Mike, a co-worker about the first heron flying off across Chartiers Creek and over the remains of Mayview State Hospital, he quickly pointed out to me, that "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest"!
That had me laughing the rest of the night!