Day 5: High drama…

…on the Sierpe River. But first, “Sierpe” is derived from the Spanish “serpiente,” meaning “serpent.” It is a tidal river, and I remember being impressed by its magnificent coils seen from the prop plane that brought me to the Osa Peninsula.

On this, our penultimate day here, Captain Carlos maneuvers our pontoon boat up the river a few yards from shore. Both he and Diego, our guide, keep their eyes peeled for wildlife–birds of many stripes, iguanas, crocodiles–feeding and basking along the banks of the river. We look, too, of course, but aren’t nearly as skilled at spotting critters!

Mamma green heron joins her baby on the river bank.

“Baby Green Heron,” one of them shouts, pointing to a rocky stretch on the near bank of the river. It is a fledgling. A boatful of photographers swing into action…. and so does a roadside hawk looking for breakfast.

The hawk swoops down toward the little bird on the rocks, but passes over it, perches in a low bush just a few yards away and fixes its eyes on the baby. “Watching like a hawk” takes on new meaning for the people in the boat!

Roadside hawk eyeing its hoped-for breakfast.

Mamma green heron also swings into action. First she joins her baby on the rocks briefly–perhaps trying to feed it? In the commotion, it is hard to be sure. But then she moves onto the bush below the hawk, spreads her wings and puffs her feathers, making herself as big and menacing as possible.

The hawk stands ground. Mamma heron moves about between hawk and baby, feathers ruffled and wings spread. Meanwhile, daddy heron has perched on a branch a few yards upstream and… watches the action!

Daddy heron watches from a nearby bush.

It’s a stand-off. Or so it seems. Finally, the hawk gives up and departs. We cheer. It’s not that we begrudge the hawk a good breakfast. It’s just that we didn’t want that particular baby heron at that particular moment to be anyone’s breakfast!


  1. DorothyAnne

    Welcome to the jungle.


    1. Thank you! I’m loving it.


  2. Kim Sinclair

    I’m enjoying following your adventure, Bette. 🙂


    1. So glad you’re along for the ride!


  3. […] To make it even more special, the Wings & Water exhibit asks each artist to submit a statement about each invited work. That means I’ll get to tell the story of this shot, how a baby heron survived an encounter with a roadside hawk because of the immediate, fierce action of its mother. You can read it here. […]


  4. […] have told a longer version of the story here. In short, a roadside hawk has swooped in and perched in a bush maybe 30 feet away up the bank. And […]


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