And Have You Changed Your Life?

And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

The Swan (excerpt)
Swan: Poems and Prose Poems
Mary Oliver

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

Two Mute Swans Aloft

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

Two Mute Swans change their course, their life.

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This week’s photo challenge is cover art. We were challenged to offer a photo to be used as the cover for a book. The two photos in this post could be used as the front and back covers for Mary Oliver’s exquisite Swan poetry. Her line “and have you changed your life” is shown in the course change of the two swans between the first and second photos. Perhaps they are taking a road less traveled in the second frame? The proposed book cover intentionally has no title or text on either front or back, they would display only on the book’s spine. Thanks to Pete R and WordPress for this topic.

Thanks also to Leanne Cole and Laura Mackey for hosting the Monochrome Madness challenge. These photos are actually in color, they have not been manipulated to simulate black & white. I love it when nature presents us her monochrome palette – there is something evocative about layered grey skies.
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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, Kayaking

Dream a Little Dream

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

Great Blue Heron in the rain.


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This week’s photo challenge is dreamy. Someone once remarked to me that, with the amount of time I spend out on the water with the Great Blue Herons, I must dream about them. Indeed I do. Heron dreams are delightful. And if I dream about the herons, do they dream about me? Not likely. According to researchers, birds do dream – most likely about singing (and not about that avid photographer in her blue boat). Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for this topic.

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

Thanks to the kind folks at 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, Kayaking

Summertime is Falling Down

They get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in.

Joni Mitchell
Urge for Going (excerpt)

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

And so the migration begins.

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This week’s photo challenge is nighttime. Thanks to Ben Huberman and WordPress for this topic.

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

Thanks to the kind folks at 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, Kayaking

What Empties Itself

The maple’s green hands do not cup
the proliferant rain.
What empties itself falls into the place that is open.

Jane Hirshfield
A Hand (excerpt)
Given Sugar, Given Salt

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

Great Blue Heron in the rain,

The squall snuck up on me – and the Great Blue Heron – without warning. One minute, a noticeable increase in the breeze, the next, the rains. The kayak scudded on small whitecaps before I brought her under control. The sun kept shining faintly through thin layers of clouds, and I looked for a rainbow, to no avail.

And the Great Blue Heron? She remained rooted to the upturned limb throughout, enduring wind and waterdroplets as the blue kayak and I danced on waves further out in the cove.

Instinctively, I dropped the camera below decks where it was dry, and watched the heron through (waterproof) binocs.

Surely she would go elsewhere in search of shelter? But no, she remained stoic, preening impassively, water sluicing from her feathers.

Just as leaves on a tree shed the rain.

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This week’s photo challenge is endurance. Thanks to Krista and WordPress for this topic. If the heron could endure the rain, so could I. My camera gear is not waterproof, but I had the next best thing – a DIY camera housing improvised on the spot. I placed the camera in a large zip-top plastic baggie, tore a hole that snugly fit the lens opening, and took dozens of photos during the rain, with occasional pauses to wipe water droplets from the lens.

This week’s Sue’s challenge is hole. Although this photo doesn’t show the hole, it could not have been taken without a hole for the lens.
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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, Kayaking

All They’re Cracked Up To Be

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

Helen Keller
The Open Door

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

Great Blue Heron at rest between adventures.

So, about the title of this post. While it definitely applies to the Great Blue Herons’ adventures, in this case it’s something much closer to home: my ribs. I’d love to be able to write that I cracked my ribs in some great daring adventure, but the truth is more prosaic.

What definitely was an adventure, however, was the recent photo shoot for the heron shown here.

People who know my photography know that I’m a big proponent of photographing while concealed within a “hide” to avoid interfering with wildlife. On this particular day, I was in a natural-cover hide along the northern shoreline. The water levels in the lake are about four feet below normal for this time of year, and so I was able to get the kayak snugged deeper under the branches yet closer to the collapsed pile of fallen white pines.

I had settled in, waiting for the heron to make her daily appearance, and she did, right on schedule. What I wasn’t expecting, though, was that the heron would also settle in on that particular log, so close to my hiding place. The heron truly settled in, and actually started to nap, dropping her head and neck til they were resting against her upper chest, then drooping her eyelids shut. Every so often she would startle a bit, jerk her head up, then drift back off to sleep.

At one point, I realized the wake from a passing boat had caused my kayak to drift even further under the branches, the leaves obscuring my line of sight. There wasn’t enough room to maneuver with my paddle, and the flashing of the blade might have alerted the heron to my presence, so I scooted lower and lower into the cockpit of the kayak to keep the heron in the frame. Eventually, even that position became fruitless and I had only one choice: call it a day.

No, wait, a second option occurred to me, and so I maneuvered myself mostly out of the cockpit by crawling onto the bow deck. The kayak was in about six inches of water there, so rolling wasn’t a threat, although getting swamped by waves was a possibility. Ignoring the likelihood of a big boat wake crashing over the bow, I rested prone on my elbows, with my PFD accidentally caught securely by an overhanging branch behind me. I rocked the boat gently from side to side to test our stability and then quickly squeezed off a few photos of the resting heron, including the one shown here.

Getting myself back into the kayak cockpit afterwards was an adventure in and of itself, and I’m pleased to have been able to back-paddle the kayak out of the hide without alerting or flushing the heron, who continued to doze on the log.

Needless to say I won’t be clambering out onto the bow of a boat any time soon, cracked ribs and all.

But that’s ok.

Enjoying the herons’ adventures vicariously is more than enough adventure for now.

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This week’s photo challenge is adventure. Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for this topic.

Thanks again to Paula for hosting her wonderful Thursday’s Special non-challenge.

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

Thanks to the kind folks at 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, Kayaking

Silken Feather Against Feather as She Rises

It is a test for us, that thin
but real, undulating figure that promises,
‘if you keep the faith I will exist
at the edge, where your vision joins
the sunlight and the rain:  heads in the light,
feet that go down in the mud where the truth is.

William Stafford, Oregon Poet Laureate
For Great Blue Heron Week, 1987
Spirit of Place (excerpt)
The Way it Is: New and Selected Poems

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

Great Blue Heron’s exultant wings.


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This week’s photo challenge is dialogue. Thanks to Frederic B and WordPress for this topic.

Thanks again to Paula for hosting her wonderful Thursday’s Special non-challenge.

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

Thanks to the kind folks at 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

To Sit and Wait is as Important as to Move

The thing is to be attentively present. 
To sit and wait is as important as to move.
Patience is as valuable as industry.
What is to be known is always there.
When it reveals itself to you, or when you come upon it, it is by chance.
The only condition is your being there and being watchful.

Wendell Berry
The Long-Legged House

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

Great Blue Heron’s erect back feathers stand on edge as a form of territorial dialogue.

“To sit and wait is as important as to move” could be a universal mantra for nature photographers, one I was actively practicing Friday from a secluded hide in the cove as the Great Blue Heron sunned herself on the half-submerged logs.

Unexpectedly, however, after half an hour of lazing about, she darted across the narrow channel and launched herself skyward to the west in a flurry of feathers and sqwaks.

Just as she was aloft, an alpha male in hot pursuit swooped down from the east to claim his territory in the cove. I eagerly panned the camera from my hiding place, trying without success to capture the fray, trying and failing to get both birds in a single frame.

The female vanquished from his turf, the male stood on the shore where he had landed – not ten feet away from me – and gazed after her disappearing form.

Only after a few minutes had passed did he turn around, and only then did he see me right there.

The tension was palpable. He stood stock still for a moment, sizing up the human interloper floating in his turf, and then started to erect his back feathers in a territorial display as if to tell me the cove is his.

I have watched this sort of feather display before, but it was always aimed at another heron. This time, though, it was unmistakably targeted at me.

It was a silent dialogue between heron and human about who’s the alpha bird.

I let the heron win.

How could I not?

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This week’s photo challenge is dialogue. Thanks to Frederic B and WordPress for this topic.

Thanks once again to Ailsa for her Weekly Travel Theme: Edge 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

A Languid Grace

Sometimes in stillness – 
When no one is looking -
She unfurls herself.
A languid grace.

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

Great Blue Heron wing


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This week’s photo challenge is fray. Thanks to John G and WordPress for this topic.

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

Thanks to the kind folks at 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

Wearing Water and Slowness

You will remember that leaping stream
where sweet aromas rose and trembled,
and sometimes a bird, wearing water
and slowness, its winter feathers.

Pablo Neruda
Love Sonnet IV (excerpt)
100 Love Sonnets

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

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Great Blue Heron feathers fray and yet still retain their beauty.

Frayed chest feathers are combed with a specially adapted claw, and a whitish powder down dusting protects the heron from oils and surface scum from the water. After a Great Blue Heron takes a birdbath, a filmy white coating of powder down often remains behind floating on the water. A heron taking a bath is an amusing sight to behold.

This week’s photo challenge is fray. Thanks to John G and WordPress for this topic.

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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

Spoonbill News Update (via Phil Lanoue)

babsje:

Last year, I wrote about an injured Great Blue Heron surviving and thriving after a partial amputation to its wing in “Wherein He Gets the Girl“.

This year, the wonderful photographer and blogger Phil Lanoue has been chronicling the recovery of an injured Spoonbill in a salt marsh there. Not only are Phil’s photos always excellent, Phil really cares about his subjects.

There are photographers who mainly care about “getting the shot,” without seeming to care much about the wildlife in their captures. Not Phil. That is something I really respect in a nature photographer.

I rarely reblog, but am moved by Phil’s photos and words about the denizens of his salt marsh, and especially about one particular Spoonbill.

Originally posted on Phil Lanoue Photography:

Well our injured pink friend is still around the area and he seems to be recovering fairly well with his wounds.

He is behaving as normal, hanging out and feeding with his friends including a tricolored heron and a cormorant. Also relaxing in a tree with an egret, and he appears to be flying just fine.

We were glad he stayed around so we could keep an eye on him and continue to hope the injuries heal. And maybe if we are all lucky, some spoonbill friends will arrive so he has company!

Spoonbill News Update

Spoonbill News Update

Spoonbill News Update

Spoonbill News Update

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