I saw a white heron the other day. I have never seen a white heron in Ireland. I see grey ones regularly, especially around the area where I live. In fact my eyes are ‘trained’ to see small birds like robins, finches and tits, and of the bigger ones I easily spot a heron. I notice them sitting on the trees, flying over the city, pondering the life of fish by standing in shallow waters in the river. Yet so far I have never seen a white heron in Ireland. I remember them from the fields of Northern Italy, in huge flocks spread for miles on end, both white and grey. But not here.
I googled ‘white heron in Ireland’ and learned it is actually called ‘little egret’. The birdwatchers website says, “Little Egret was considered rare in Ireland until it first started breeding here in 1997”. I guess it is not uncommon, but somehow I never spotted it until a few days ago. It made me pause, even if I didn’t have much time. You cannot pass by something beautiful without stopping. I tried to take a photo but since I only had my phone with me, the photo did not turn out very clear. The quality wasn’t good enough to put up here, but I still have the memory.
There is something special about a white bird. I am not quite sure what, almost as if it communicates ‘I am unique’. Not in a showy-kind-of-way. No. In a gentle way, by just being itself. I am always grateful when I notice something beautiful. It leaves an imprint on my mind, a blessing on my soul, and if I have seen it for the first time it leaves a touch of mystery lingering around. The beauty of the world is a gift; learning to notice it is our ‘thank you’ to what we see, and to God who created it.
© Iva Beranek (Dublin, 29th June 2015)
Photo by © Iva Beranek