Would you care for some sludge with that, sir?

A quick visit to Strandfontein sewage works on Saturday evening resulted in these photos of a Purple Heron trying to swallow a rather large Vlei Rat [I stand corrected here, but this is what I think it is – can anyone confirm?].

Purple Heron vlei rate

Swallowing a rodent this size is clearly not easy so the heron spent about 15 minutes dipping the rat into the “water” (actually a cocktail of sludge and other unmentionables) to aid swallowing.

Purple Heron vlei rate1

After several dunkings and a few swallow attempts it was finally ingested.

Purple heron cropped1

A quick search revealed similar images, but with a Grey Heron and a rabbit. The link mentions that the prey is dunked in the water to drown it. Drowning may be a result, with mammals anyway, but I feel the real reason is to aid the swallowing process. Any comments or thoughts on this?

2 comments to Would you care for some sludge with that, sir?

  • Michelle

    That’s amazing!

  • David Winter

    A note via Cape Bird Net from Ken Wynne-Dyke:

    We have daily visits by a Purple Heron in Helderberg Village, Somerset West but have suddenly had a number of reports of birds being taken as prey. We have also noticed that the PH has taken to sitting in the upper branches of trees sometimes 100 of metres away from the dams and ponds which we have in our Village. We have plenty of fish and frogs in the waterbodies and wondered why the PH would go to the trouble of trying to catch birds. One of our residents has just watched the heron flying into a tree where some White-backed Mousebirds were sitting and taking one. It then flew to the water

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