Fish Soup

Pelicans arrive at Nahant Marsh

The summer is high at Nahant Marsh and the living is easy. Unless you’re a fish. A wide variety of birds have been hunting for fish in the marsh, and have been having quite a bit of success. Each of these fine summer mornings many fish have become breakfast. Every day fish-loving birds have been flying, swimming, stalking and dive-bombing after the fish of Nahant Marsh.

Young blue heron at Nahant Marsh

Blue herons by the dozens have been stationing themselves around the marsh daily. Some appear to be younger birds with streaked fronts and without the long plumes they will one day have. The ones I watched seemed to have no difficulty in catching very nice breakfasts for themselves. Along with the ever present blue herons, egrets, pelicans, cormorants and terns have been returning frequently to the marsh in search of a fish breakfast.

Cormorant catches a fish

Cormorants chase their prey underwater, sometimes for a surprisingly long way. Fairly large groups of them have come, slipping headfirst underwater then surfacing, shining wetly, over and over, up and down the length and breadth of the marsh. Some especially good-fishing mornings, more often than not a wiggling fish, gleaming in the sun, was gripped tightly in their beak each time a cormorant popped to the surface.

2014augTern&FishThe fish have to fear from the sky, too. Terns have been coming to claim a share. While the cormorants dive and fly underwater to chase after the fish, the terns plunge in from above. Dropping like a stone, the tern punches through the waters surface sending up a splash longer than its wingspan. Then it flaps wetly up and away bearing its prize.

Blue heron catches a fish for breakfast

The water creatures had it good when the flood favored them. The whole world was a watery place then—or so it must have seemed. Nahant Marsh is very shallow for the most part, and a huge amount of water has gone. Less water left for each remaining fish and perhaps the shrinking pool thus becomes fish soup.

Summer mornings are beautiful all by themselves, and are even more so when the birds’ breakfast show is so lively, varied and entertaining. Unless you’re a fish.

Pelicans at Nahant Marsh

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