PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Down in cool, shadowy hideouts where mangrove roots reach the sea, small fish and crabs will never see the lava heron, perfectly still, waiting above them. Along with flightless cormorants and marine iguanas, he is one of the animals shaped by the fresh, dark lava of the archipelago, and he has become invisible. Contrary to what I read in the guidebooks, it doesn't appear that any of them are hiding from predators. Mammals are scarce on these new islands.
This lava heron is hunting beside a small bridge connecting our trail with a landing area where we will meet our ponga. Twenty of us are passing within half a dozen feet of the lava heron, and he hasn't moved a muscle since he found his spot. He is indifferent to our commotion. Perhaps he knows our vibrations may chase fish his way, or, much as this may not occur to us, he ignores us knowing we are irrelevant. This is a cool, tenebrous part of paradise, good for him to hunt in.