Next to my Gen-u-ine Louisville Slugger
Next to the Louisville Slugger and tripod propped against the wall in the corner of my studio stands a misshapen lenth of wood.
In my favorite cove, there is, or rather was, a partly sunken deciduous tree. Because the cove is a narrow finger bordered by giant pines and tall leafy trees, during the golden hour, sunlight accentuated the arching branches the way a spot draws your eyes to a painting in a museum.
At other times of the day, it offered shadowy refuge to the herons, like this:
Great blue herons are creatures of habit, and so I adjusted my kayak forays to follow their circuit around the lake. Eventually, I learned to predict which heron could be found where at what time of day.
The heron in the photo above staked out his territory in the cove, and I came to treasure his presence. He was the first heron I sought out in the spring and the last one I saw on closing day in the fall. Each year, my anticipation was palpable as I stroked deeper into the cove, looking for him on his favorite perch. For years, each autumn, he was the last heron I saw, the last heron I photographed that year, before closing down for the winter.
There were times that he ceded his territory to the youngsters when he was nesting deeper in the cove with his mate. Then, other herons would stake their own territorial claim to his branches.
In 2010, the heron in the top photo of this post adopted the branches for a fishing platform.
The following year, a different heron, seen in the next photo, took ownership of the limbs. In this photo, the heron is cleaning its bill after downing a fish, by rubbing it along the wood, one side of the bill alternating with the other, back and forth.
And then one day it happened. I rounded the curve while kayaking into the cove and raised my binoculars just as I had one on hundreds of other days, scanning the far end for the great blue heron on the branch.
But there was no heron there.
Not only was there no heron there, there was no branch there.
Stunned, I paddled closer.
The water level was high due to a recent tropical storm, and so most of the deciduous tree was submerged, as it had been for a few weeks, but the top branch, the tallest branch was gone.
Broken off sharply just above water level, the branch floated forlornly near it’s stump.
Carefully, I retrieved the broken branch and balanced it awkwardly, strapped under the deck bungees of my kayak.
For the time being, it has pride of place in my studio, next to my Louisville Slugger baseball bat and tripod. I treasure it, and the memories it evokes.
At times, I can close my eyes and hear the great blue heron perched there, the silken rustle of feathers, the soft arrrrh….arrrrh….arrrrh greeting, calling me into the heron’s realm.
Thanks to Krista Stevens and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure. (I treasure this branch, gripped by countless herons over the years.)
Thanks to Ese for her Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge: Empty prompt. (and now, the spot in the cove where the branch belonged is strangely, sadly empty.)
Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for the Wild Bird Wednesday prompt.
Thanks to Ailsa for her Where’s My Backpack: Wood prompt.
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
Posted on February 19, 2014, in ardea herodias, Ese's Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge, Great Blue Heron, Photography, postaday, Weekly Photo Challenge, Weekly Travel Themes, Wild Bird Wednesday, Wildlife Photography and tagged great blue heron, postaday. Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.