Yes, the heron has returned.
I surprised the heron last night–or it surprised me, or neither surprised either, depending on how one perceives it. But the heron was at the fish pond and the fish went into hiding again.
I’m hoping the problem was that i had moved both scarecrows back a bit further from the pond. last night i moved one of the scarecrows right to the spot I saw the heron flying up from, and it had not returned this morning, although I did see it at the upper gully pond.
I have decided to let the upper gully pond be a fishing ground for the bird as much as possible. The bird will need to have someplace to hunt, and if the pressure is too extreme it may start to directly challenge the scarecrows rather than avoid them. It is unreasonable to expect the heron to leave forever, and guiding it away from a more valuable area to another place is always going to be more effective in the long term than simply trying to deny access altogether.
It is possible to set up complete exclusion zones, but one of the goals should also be to balance energy with payoff.
I know that my goldfish pond is out of balance, and I have been willing to sacrifice some energy through the summer to creating and moving scarecrows around. But I’m not willing to extend that energy to the other ponds, and with luck the heron may decide that looking for catfish is easier than taking a chance looking for goldfish.
So the first part was the fish letting me know something was wrong, the second part was observing the heron, and the third part is watching the heron react and avoid the scarecrow. I have been in the situation 3 or 4 times where I have seen Mr/Mrs heron several times around the dam just above the fishpond, one time I watched it fly in like it might have been coming to land at the fish pond, saw the dummy at the last moment and aborted the landing gliding over the higher dam wall and landing at the far end. Trees and such around that gully corridor would have made it difficult to keep flying.
last night I came down just in time to see it in a corner just below the higher dam but well back from the fish pond and away from the dummy, as if it had come in and then looked over to see the dummy (I keep moving it) at the very last minute and couldn’t clear the dam.
Or else it is getting braver and landing closer each time.This new dummy oversees everything from the Low Gully Dam–I’m thinking about red reflectors for eyes. The problem with having so many dummies around is that they start to develop a community of their own, and psychologically I may feel overwhelmed.
Anyway, the heron wasn’t there this morning and I’ll go down once or twice more before I leave for a few hrs, maybe I’ll get another sweat shirt and pair of pants out.
July 10th, Heron seemed gone from the lower ponds, but visiting the High Gully Pond I noticed it’s footprints in the shallows–maybe that’s why the catfish stopped such active feeding a couple days ago
July 13, 2017 to date the Heron has still not been back, although this morning I thought I saw some activity in a tree it may be using for a nest. Judging from the quick glance I caught of it flying, it seems to be giving my ponds a wide berth.
Even so, I fear the Heron is close enough that I may be looking over my shoulder all summer. Especially if that tree is a nesting site and it has hungry mouths to feed. Last year I remember seeing a juvenile at one point, so my long term strategy once the ponds are substantial enough to support more fish might be better served by simply allowing the heron free access to manage the fish once their populations are well established.