Little Heron feeding on sea slaters

Sea slaters (Ligia sp.) are crustaceans (order Isopoda) that occur on rocky shores and artificial sea walls (above left). They need to keep their gills wet but prefer to forage out of water. Due to their flat body, long antennae and habit of scurrying about rock surfaces in great numbers, they are also known as sea cockroaches.

“A Little Heron (Butorides striatus) heron was spotted hunting on the seawall beside West Coast Pier. Either because the algae-covered rocks were slippery or it wanted a stealthier profile, the bird walked in a ‘crouched’ position with its tarsi almost horizontal. It was stalking sea slaters that were out and about even though it was bright daylight. The heron would move closely to within striking distance of the crustacean, and then its head and neck would swivel left and right (perhaps to ‘triangulate’ its aiming point) and then make a rapid strike.”

Marcus Ng
The Annotated Budak
6th April 2009

Images by Marcus Ng except that of sea slater by YC.

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One Response

  1. The Little Heron walked thus not because the rocks were slippery but more likely because it was a stealthier stance. I watched one walking on a grass lawn up to the edge of a pond where it lunged its neck and beak to pluck off a small fish. I missed the lightning strike but my camera recorded it.

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