Quirky Artist Stories Nbr 2 – Lost & Found

They once were lost, and then??

Great blue heron diving beneath the surface. © Babsje (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great blue heron diving.

Accidentally one day, I left the entire set of CF cards containing all of my Great Blue Heron photos on the morning bus – years’ worth of photos.

There was – needless to say – a rather sleepless sleep that night.

My workflow is such that, yes, I do have digital backup copies of most of the photos spread amongst various computers, external hard drives, USB sticks, and the original film negatives for the earlier pieces – not to mention prints in collections and the gallery – but these were the ORIGINAL cards that were missing.

Ironically, I was carrying them that day to put in secure offsite storage.

Through a series of events beginning with a wonderful act of honesty by an unknown bus passenger who found them and turned them in to the bus driver, who then turned them in to his supervisor, who in turn handed them off to others, they found their way to a lost and found 20 miles from home.

It took hours and several phone calls – first to one lost and found, then to another at a different location, and then to yet a third – followed by a lengthy cab ride, but at the end of the day they were back with me where they belong.

The anonymous bus passenger is a hero, as are Henry the bus driver and Gail at the lost and found. I’m still trying to come up with an appropriate reward. In a way, those herons are like my children, and what reward is adequate?

I am beyond grateful.

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Thanks to Ben Huberman and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers. The Lost & Found served that day as a container for items that were precious to me. In fact, every day of the year, any lost & found anywhere could be a container for precious items for any number of people.

Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for hosting the Wild Bird Wednesday challenge.

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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron

Cleanup on Aisle 17 – Look Who’s Helping Marge

Look who’s helping Marge clean up the lake.

© Babsje (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Wonder what this Great Blue Heron is thinking.

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Thanks to Ben Huberman and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers. The plastic bag being held by this Great Blue Heron at one point contained something large, larger than a king-sized pillow to be sure. Allow me a non-sequitur of sorts. A kayaking friend, Margie, has been paddling the lake for many years, and each time she goes out, she makes a point of retrieving as much trash as she can carry back on her kayak. (Sometimes that trash is in the form of sodden dollar bills, but I digress.) Last weekend, she retrieved one of those huge orange barrels traditionally used to block off traffic lanes that had somehow tumbled down the hillside and into the lake. (Wish I had a photo of that barrel perched on her kayak’s bow.) A few weeks before that, Marge rescued a fledgling heron chick that was spluttering and splashing in the water. (Really, really wish I had a photo of that rescue.) Margie is one of my heroes for that.

Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for hosting the Wild Bird Wednesday challenge.

Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.
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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Ecology

If I Were a Caveman…

If I were a caveman, perhaps my “photos” of Great Blue Herons would have been rendered like the relics below.

© Babsje (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron overhead.

Even the ancient peoples tried to capture heron-like birds in their art. Without cameras they painted and carved likenesses on the rock walls of caves.

Does this first image look like the heron has caught a frog?

USA, Arizona, Petrified Forest National Park, Cave paintings

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This image shows crane-like birds:

Detailed petroglyph depicts snakes and cranes. Nine Mile Canyon, Utah.

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More heron-like birds:

‘Carved Petroglyph’ (People, deers, elks, birds, boots and circles), 4th-3rd millenium BC. Russian Forest Cultures. Found in the collection of the State Hermitage, St. Petersburg. (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

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I’m a big fan of ancient cave art, and was pleased to find a small number of images that portrayed birds similar to herons and cranes. Many of the cave paintings, carvings, and rock petroglyphs center on large game animals and hunting figures, and the large wading birds appear only rarely.

Because I can’t draw my way out of a paper bag, as the expression goes, it’s a good thing that I live in an era of modern cameras instead of prehistoric times – when my heron captures would only have had cave walls for their canvas.

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Thanks to Donncha and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Relic.

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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Cave Art, Petroglyphs

He Who Came Into Being by Himself

© Babsje (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Is the Heron a modern-day Benu Bird, a relic of ancient Egypt?

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The Benu Bird, also spelled Bennu, is the Egyptian Phoenix, with a rich and fascinating mythology.

Ancient Egyptian papyrus of death kneeling before a snake.
Caption:Ancient Egyptian papyrus of death kneeling before a snake. From the collection of the Egyptian Museum of Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Art Media/Print Collector/Getty Images)

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Thanks to Donncha and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Relic. The Benu Bird, also spelled Bennu, is the Egyptian Phoenix, with a rich and fascinating mythology. Many additional sources are available online via duckduckgo.com (or your own favorite search engine), along with gorgeous art relics, including papyrus images and temple and tomb carvings.

Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for hosting the Wild Bird Wednesday challenge.

Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.
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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Benu Bird, Phoenix

“It’s an Effing Pterodactyl” Bellowed the Fisherman

At breakneck speed, all were flung into the present as the man in the bass boat bellowed, “It’s a pterodactyl! It’s an effing pterodactyl!

© Babsje (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron stalking a fish.

Long-time readers may remember that true story of the bass fisherman’s unexpected encounter with a Great Blue Heron last year. (Click here if you missed it.) At the time it was amusing – I had my head down stowing gear under the bow of the kayak and didn’t actually see the GBH, but hearing the man shriek about a pterodactyl left no doubt about what had just crossed his bow.

So, when even a random fisherman makes that association, I am definitely not alone in seeing herons as modern-day relics of a prehistoric time.

In this blog, I like to focus on sharing first-person observations and my own original photos rather than offering up a rehash of information that anyone can find on the interwebs via duckduckgo.com or any of the other search engines, but sometimes there are exceptions. Today’s post is one of them.

According to the wonderful resource, Heron Conservation:

The herons are a fairly ancient group of birds. Although bird fossils are rare, herons are exceptionally rare even by avian standards totaling fewer than 40 identified species. Herons first emerge in the fossil record some 60 -38 million years ago.

Just out of curiosity, I searched Getty Images for fossils that might be similar to modern Great Blues.

Below are three ancient bird fossils. The first two are clearly labeled as Pterodactyl fossils:


[Pterodactyl fossil, Pterodactylus kochi, Jurassic. Eichstatt, Germany. (Photo by John Cancalosi.)]
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[Fossil of a Pterodactyl. Fossil of pterodactylus spectabilis. (Photo by CM Dixon/Print Collector/Getty Images)]
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It was exciting to find those Pterodactyl fossils online, but what really fired my imagination is this next fossil. Look closely. Do you see why?


[Fossil Bird. Green River Formation, Wyoming. Eocene, 50 million years ago. (Photo by John Cancalosi.)]
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One of the most striking characteristics of Great Blue Herons is the way they fly with their necks kinked into an S-shape. This is made possible because of the configuration of the heron’s sixth neck vertebra.

Look at the bird fossil above. Do you see the S-shape of the neck, how it seems to curve sharply around the sixth vertebra?

Goosebumps!

Maybe it’s just a coincidence (and this blog isn’t rigorous science in any case), but seeing that ancient fossil bird’s neck mirror that of the herons I see today brought goosebumps.

I love when that happens.

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Thanks to Donncha and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Relic.

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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Fossils, Pterodactyl

Sometimes You Gets the Bear, Sometimes the Bear Gets You

Erm, make that ‘great blue heron,’ not ‘bear.’

© Babsje (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great blue heron takes aim at a passing dragonfly.

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Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts. When last we saw this female heron, her prey was a hapless chipmunk. Earlier, she took aim at this dragonfly. Given the contrast in size of the heron and dragonfly, I wonder how many insects it would take to make a nourishing snack? Herons must consider dragonflies tasty morsels: the base of that waterfall is usually teeming with fish.

Thanks again to Paula for her wonderful Thursday’s Special Non-Challenge challenge.

Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for hosting the Wild Bird Wednesday challenge.

Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.
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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Dragonfly

In a Teachable Moment

© Babsje (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Mute swan cygnet tries to fly.

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Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts. Unlike tree-top dwellers who launch out of the nest for their maiden flight, the swans’ process of learning to fly is quite a contrast: the cygnet must develop sufficient wing muscle bulk, not to mention huge feathers, in order to achieve that first lift-off from the water’s surface. The male parent shows the cygnets how this is done by example, flapping his enormous wings as he advances across the water and finally upwards, the percussive slaps of his wings as they strike the surface resounding through the air like canon shot. I had been observing the swan family in this photo for several weeks, watching the father demonstrate his take off technique back and forth across the small lake. Then, one day, one of the cygnets imitated his father, rearing up in the water, trying to scoop the air with his budding wings to achieve liftoff. At this stage in his development, though, he lacked flight feathers and so his baby wings seemed more like plucked chicken wings than anything else. It was an endearing spectacle!

Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for hosting the Wild Bird Wednesday challenge.

Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.
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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Mute Swan, Cygnet

The Security Cam is Down – Who You Gonna Call for Backup?

Oh, the irony.

© Babsje (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

“Man your station, Hawkeye, incoming kayak at ten o’clock.”

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File this one under silly nonsense.

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UPDATE: Speaking of Red Tailed Hawks, two fellow bloggers have been following an ongoing story out of Ithaca, NY, this summer. One of the fledglings at Cornell University had been injured, requiring surgery. Read more at the blogs of circuitousjourney and dearkitty1.

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Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts. Looks like this building has enlisted a pair of Red Tailed Hawks to augment their roof-top security cameras. I couldn’t resist the irony and the contrasts of new-technology and Nature’s original (and best) hawk-eye tech.

Thanks to Paula for her wonderful Thursday’s Special Non-Challenge challenge.

Thanks to Cee for her Odd Ball Photo challenge.

Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for hosting the Wild Bird Wednesday challenge.

Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.
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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Red Tail Hawk, Humor

Catch Me If You Can

© Babsje (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

My heart was in my throat as the older great blue heron bore down on the newly-fledged bird.

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Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts. These two herons are a year apart in age, and share the same parents and nest. The fledgling was only two or three days out of the nest at this time, and his very light coloring contrasts with the more mature plumage of the yearling.

Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for hosting the Wild Bird Wednesday challenge.

Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.
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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Fledgling

What’s for Lunch? Hint – Great Blue Heron 1, Chipmunk 0

Never eat anything with a face?

Does that apply to great blue herons, too?

© Babsje (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Predator and prey: great blue heron catches chipmunk.

“And the great blue herons? They’re a study in Patience and Grace.” I’ve often said that. In fact, it’s a tag line for this blog.

© Babsje (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great blue heron about to swallow chipmunk.

But we need to remember that they’re not just graceful creatures, they’re also fierce predators. The top image in the right-hand sidebar is a potent reminder of the heron’s power: great blue herons average only 5-6 pounds, while the pike she has landed could weigh around 4 pounds. It was an epic struggle for her to catch and consume that pike.

Not only are great blue herons fierce predators, they are also opportunistic feeders. I have observed them eating a variety of prey besides fish – eels, crawfish, turtles, dragonflies, frogs, grubs, and plants – but until last week, I had never watched a heron catch a mammal.

© Babsje (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Do you suppose she has second thoughts about swallowing?

One minute, she was fishing in a small cove, and the next? Striding down the shoreline, then striking out into the shrubs in one smooth, efficient movement.

The life or death struggle was no less epic for the chipmunk than it was for the pike, but for me, despite the instincts of a pro photojournalist, there was a vast contrast in the emotional charges of the two events. What I felt for the unfortunate chipmunk was stronger and deeper than what I felt for the pike, and I was repulsed by the chipmunk photos – by my own photos.

Yes, these sorts of predator-prey struggles are the way of Nature, the circle of life. There are some things, however, that cannot be unseen once the photographic genie is out of the bottle. I never could easily watch those nature videos of lions taking down elands in the African savannah. I cannot post here the dozens of crystal clear images of the great blue heron capturing the chipmunk, even though they would add to our understanding of heron behavior.

I cannot unsee them…

Did I ever mention that no two days kayaking at the lake are the same?

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Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts. Michelle asked us to speak to the topic of contrasts. In this post, I look at contrasts on two levels: the photos show the contrast between predator and prey, while the commentary touches on the contrasts of my emotions towards a mammal as prey compared to a fish as prey. I linked to a series of photos of the heron devouring a ginormous pike, but am taking a pass at sharing the equivalent series of photos where lunch is a cute furry mammal.

Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for hosting the Wild Bird Wednesday challenge.

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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Chipmunk, Kayaking

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