Beautiful Great Blue Heron on the March

© 2017 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron strutting down the shoreline – babsjeheron

Yes, even Great Blue Herons strut and march, especially when protecting their turf. This Great Blue Heron marching down the shoreline to deter an interloping bird showed off an example from their powerful body language repertoire: the erected back feathers.
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Thanks to Ailsa of “Where’s My Backpack” for her recent Travel theme: Walking. Do strutting and marching count as “walking?” Yes, I say!

Thanks to Jeff G and WordPress for their recent WPC Challenge: Ambience. The mood in the cove that day was suspenseful as the adult heron marched the length of the upper shore in an aggressive effort to stake its territory. It was a powerful display of the birds’ urges to claim and protect their feeding grounds.

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From July 1 through July 30, 2016, I was the Featured Artist of the Month at the Summer Street Gallery. The Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced the walls of the lobby and theater in a one-woman show at The Center for Arts in Natick. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

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™

© 2017 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN

A Great Blue Heron Named Romeo? (Not Art Nbr 11)

In the beginning she’d lobbied to name the turkeys, which I nixed, but I relented later when I saw what she had in mind.

She christened them Mr. Thanksgiving, Mr. Dinner, Mr. Sausage, and—in a wild first-grade culinary stretch — Sushi.

excerpted from “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life”
by Barbara Kingsolver, with Steven Hopp and Camille Kingsolver

© 2017 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Herons with Litter – babsjeheron

Long-time readers may remember posts about an apparently lovelorn young male Great Blue Heron coming of age and his ardent pursuit of an older female.

On this day of cleanup in the cove, the young male had been intently watching the female from yards away down the cove, while the female poked the mud with her long beak, tugging persistently at something.

Just as the young male made his move, strutting up the clove towards the female in his courtship posture, her beak lurched free from the mud, with a huge plastic bag stuck on her lower bill.

I watched from my kayak hidden from their view in the trees along the shore, wondering if his ardor would be cooled by the plastic bag, or if he would try to wrest the trophy from her.

She pivoted on her heels and flew westward out of the cove with the bag trailing from her beak, leaving the young male behind.

I would be anthropomorphizing – something forbidden for field naturalists – were I to describe him as being dejected, of course.

But then again, these are the only two wild creatures to whom I’ve given names.

How much – or how little – do we know about the emotional lives of birds?

And how do we know what we know?

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Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for their recent WPC Challenge: Names. At a presentation at the lake’s Nature Center years ago, the noted raptor rehabilitator Tom Ricardi was asked what he named the Eagles and Hawks and Falcons in his care. His reply was that he did not name the raptors, because to name them would diminish their wild nature. That philosophy struck a chord, but I made an exception for Romeo, shown in the photo here. Similarly, the marvelous author Barbara Kingsolver described teaching her children to not name the animals they were raising as their food, and even she allowed an exception for some obstreperous young male turkeys, who became known as Mr. Thanksgiving, Mr. Dinner, Mr. Sausage and even “Sushi.”

I’ve written here in the past about Tom Ricardi’s delightful presentation of Bald Eagles at our Nature Center, and this short video shows Tom with a 35 year old Golden Eagle, Turkey Vulture, Kestrel, Gyrfalcon and more.

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From July 1 through July 30, 2016, I was the Featured Artist of the Month at the Summer Street Gallery. The Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced the walls of the lobby and theater in a one-woman show at The Center for Arts in Natick. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

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™

© 2017 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN

ew a cardinal

Beautiful Great Blue Herons After the Storm (Not Art Nbr 10)

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

Great Blue Heron and Four Chicks in Nest

The house rocked.
Windowpanes trembled with each percussive blow.
There was no separation at all between lightning bolt and thunderclap.
I huddled in the middle of the room, as far from windows as possible, waiting out the storm at ground zero.
But it wasn’t ground zero at all.

Photographer gets too close to a great blue heron nest while the nestlings are being fed by an adult.

Photographer gets too close to a great blue heron nest while the nestlings are being fed by an adult.

Close readers of this blog are aware of the protectiveness I feel towards the Great Blue Herons and their nesting places, especially the nesting island in the southernmost lake. I’ve written here about the fact that humans are among the most dangerous threats to the Herons.

Over the years, I’ve fretted about too much boat traffic encircling the nesting island, concerned that the adult Herons would abandon the nest and their chicks. And I’ve watched as predators like Osprey and Red Tailed Hawks threatened them.

Despite cautious monitoring of small craft and water skiers looping the island, despite watching with a lump in my throat as the predatory birds set their sights on the Heron chicks, at the end of the day, the nest was toppled by extreme winds.

An act of Nature, not of Man.

It was the Great Blue Herons’ nesting island – and not my home – that was at ground zero for the storm that night, and the tall tree supporting the Herons’ nest collapsed.

Only two months before the storm, I wrote of the sounds of the four Great Blue Heron chicks in the nest as music to my ears:

Chih-chih-chih… chih-chih-chih… chih-chih-chih… changes.
It’s not just a David Bowie song.

And what of those four chicks in the photo at the top of this post? Had they fledged before the storm took out their nest? Surely that would be their only hope for survival.

I returned to the lake every day I could after the storm, looking for survivors. I saw at least one of the fledgling chicks and one of the adult, parent Herons. My heart beamed elatedly.

© 2017 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron adult two days after the storm – babsjeheron

Back in August 2015, I wrote of that nest

Those chicks are destined to be the last brood to fledge from our island.

© 2017 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Fledgling sighting locations on the Lake September 2016 – babsjeheron

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Fast forward one year, to September 2016. I had no idea where – or even IF – the Herons would breed again in that area. You may remember my story of the Bald Eagle stalking the Great Blue Fledglings one rainy day.

That day, the Eagle was looking for lunch in all the wrong places.

That day, I counted more Great Blue fledglings than I’d ever seen before in a single day.

I’ve been looking for the new nesting spot, to no avail so far. That is a good thing. If I can’t find it, neither will the water skiers with their noisy motor boats.

I love happy endings like that.

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Thanks to Ben H and WordPress for their recent WPC Challenge: Resilient. If surviving that fierce storm and coming back the following year with an even larger crop of fledglings is not a sign that the Great Blue Herons are resilient, I don’t know what is. Events like that storm and the survival of some of the Herons in the aftermath, and their successful breeding the following year are also increasing my own resilience, increasing my optimism for the future survival of the small community of Herons at the lake. Each year there are new threats – especially from habitat destruction along the shoreline and in a few of the coves – but so far, each year, the Herons maintain their wing-hold at the lake.

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From July 1 through July 30, 2016, I was the Featured Artist of the Month at the Summer Street Gallery. The Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced the walls of the lobby and theater in a one-woman show at The Center for Arts in Natick. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

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™

© 2017 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN

Beautiful Great Blue Heron in the Flight Path

Life spreads itself across
the ceiling to make you think
you are penned in, but that
is just another gift. Life takes
what you thought you couldn’t live
without and gives you a heron instead.

On the Meaning of (excerpt)
Linda Back McKay

The Next Best Thing: Poems

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

Incoming ducks approaching the great blue heron as twilight deepens – babsjeheron

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Thanks to Cherie Lucas Rowlands and WordPress for the recent WPC Challenge: Path. Some paths – like the boardwalk in a nature sanctuary – are concrete, well-defined, tangible things, easily seen even when nobody, or no thing, treads upon them. Others, like the migratory path of birds or butterflies are no less real, but difficult to see except when the creatures fly along them. The far end of this slender cove marks a point on the migratory path of these ducks. The Heron stood frozen in place as wave after wave of ducks noisily invaded.

And thanks also to Cee for her recent Fun Foto Challenge: Duck Duck Goose Heron. Sorry, Cee, but I couldn’t resist taking a bit of liberty with your title.

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My Great Blue Heron photography has been featured in 3 one-woman shows at the Summer Street Gallery of The Natick Center for the Arts. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

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™

© 2016 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, kayaking

Great Blue Heron Wishes of Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All (Not Art Nbr. 9)

…I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things…

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry, excerpt
from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry

© 2016 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Fledgling Greetings – babsjeheron

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Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for the recent WPC Challenge: Anticipation. I am anticipating Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.

And thanks also to Nancy T and WordPress for her recent WPC Challenge: Time of Year . It’s that time of the year when many express fond wishes of seasonal cheer. Count the Herons and me in as extending wishes of goodwill to all, and gratitude for the many sharings by others.

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My Great Blue Heron photography has been featured in 3 one-woman shows at the Summer Street Gallery of The Natick Center for the Arts. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

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™

© 2016 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, kayaking

Great Blue Heron’s Magical Camouflage

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

Great blue heron blends in with rocks.

Like a real-life Where’s Waldo?

The patron in the Audubon gallery had browsed through the collection of Great Blue Heron photos, but kept returning to the one you see above.

Finally, she came over to me and asked why I had included one without any Herons. We walked over to the wall together and I pointed out the Heron, his back perfectly camouflaged against the rocks. Had I cropped out the tell-tale burst of water drops that were flung upwards as the Heron thrust her head beneath the surface, the camouflage effect would be even more apparent. If you cover that burst of water in the photo with your hand, you can see how the Heron’s back fits in with the rocks.

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

Great Blue Heron camouflaged in pickerel weed.

The patch of pickerel weed along the shoreline in the photo above has been a perennial favorite. Can you find the Great Blue Heron there?

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Thanks to Jen H and WordPress for the recent WPC Challenge: Magic. Is camouflage magic? I say yes, emphatically.

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My Great Blue Heron photography has been featured in 3 one-woman shows at the Summer Street Gallery of The Natick Center for the Arts. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

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™

© 2016 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, kayaking

Beautiful Great Blue Heron’s Magical Feather

© 2013 Babsje. (Http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Feather – babsjeheron

Red is grey and yellow white,
but we decide which is right,
and which is an illusion.

Moody Blues, Days of Future Passed

The feather shown in the top pane here is the same feather as that shown at bottom. Both photos were taken on the same day, with the same camera and lens, within minutes of each other. Only the background colors have been changed.

Some fascinating examples of ‘color illusions’ such as this can be found at Brain Den. Enjoy!

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Thanks to Jen H and WordPress for the recent WPC Challenge: Magic. Is an optical illusion magic? Yes, in fact, many magic tricks employ optical illusions, as a quick internet search will reveal.

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My Great Blue Heron photography has been featured in 3 one-woman shows at the Summer Street Gallery of The Natick Center for the Arts. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

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™

© 2016 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, kayaking

Beautiful Great Blue Heron Fledgling Basking

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

Beautiful Great Blue Heron Fledgling Basking – babsjeheron

all that remains is water and sky,
the dry sound of wind in the reeds,
and the sight of an unflappable heron on the shore.

“Simple Arithmetic” excerpt
From “Horoscopes for the Dead: Poems” by Billy Collins

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Thanks to Cheri Lucas Rowlands and WordPress for the recent WPC Challenge: Tiny. “Tiny” is a relative concept when it comes to some birds, especially big birds (yes, even including everyone’s favorite Big Bird). The fledgling Great Blue Heron shown here was less than one week out of the nest when that photo was taken, a very young baby learning his way in the world.

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My Great Blue Heron photography has been featured in 3 one-woman shows at the Summer Street Gallery of The Natick Center for the Arts. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

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™

© 2016 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, kayaking

Beautiful Great Blue Heron in the Fish Ladder (Not Art Nbr 8)

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

Great Blue Heron Has Gone Fishing – babsjeheron

The Great Blue Heron tenuously worked her way up the fish ladder, scanning the rushing waters for lunch. The river was in drought conditions that subdued the usually-robust waterfall to a trickle, and her customary fishing hole at the base of the falls proved fruitless.

Fortunately for the Great Blue Heron, the ‘no fishing in fish ladder’ policy doesn’t apply to Herons.

And fortunately, too, for this photographer who watched the exciting scene unfold.

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Thanks to Ben H and WordPress for this week’s WPC Challenge: Chaos. Ben has asked for our takes on chaos this week. From a visual perspective, the water tumbling down the fish ladder seethed fiercely. On a more important level, many people experience their worlds as especially chaotic in recent days. Going fishing – whether with a rod and reel and lures or just with a camera – is a small antidote that can bring a few moment of peace.

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From July 1 through July 30, 2016, I was the Featured Artist of the Month at the Summer Street Gallery. The Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced the walls of the lobby and theater in a one-woman show at The Center for Arts in Natick. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

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™

© 2016 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, TCAN

Great Blue Heron Chase Scene (Not Art Nbr 7)

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

Great Blue Heron Adult and Fledgling Chase Scene – babsjeheron

Heart pounding in my throat, partly hidden under overhanging branches along the channel, I watched the chase unfold. Will the Great Blue Heron Fledgling escape the territorial adult?

I was returning to shore after a relaxing morning, hoping to get back to the dock before the rains started. The grey skies threatened to open any minute. Passing into the channel, I noticed the adult Great Blue Heron foraging on the south side and so I stopped under the oaks to watch. This particular Heron was a capable fisher and it occurred that maybe I could capture him as he captured a big fish. I looked at the threatening sky and stuffed my camera into a handy ZipLok bag, and stashed everything else below decks, and then settled in to watch him work for his supper.

After a few minutes, a Great Blue fledgling landed on the same shore as the adult, about 20 yards east. My heart rate picked up as the fledgling quickly made a beeline for the adult, taking long strides along the water’s edge, closing the gap between them. Usually a fledgling will not try to approach a ‘strange’ adult Heron, and so that behavior was a clue that the adult was a parent of the fledgling. The question was, which parent – father or mother?

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

Great Blue Heron Adult Territorial Display on Shore – babsjeheron

It didn’t take long to find out, as the adult Heron suddenly erupted from the shore, and burst over the small rock-island. He landed less than five feet from the fledgling, in an unmistakable territorial display posture that told me the adult Heron was the father of the fledgling, not the mother. Female Great Blue Herons will allow the fledglings to join in feeding activities even after the youngsters have left the nest. The father birds, however, will defend their territory and chase away their own offspring.

And so the chase was on.

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

Great Blue Heron Adult Chasing Fledgling – babsjeheron

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

Great Blue Heron Adult Territorial Display on Branch – babsjeheron

Having vanquished the fledgling, the adult Heron landed on a fallen tree jutting over the water, his back feathers still in an erect territorial configuration.

He pivoted on the branch and settled in, staring up into the trees.

Where was the fledgling? I scanned and scanned the canopy with binoculars but couldn’t find the fledgling.

I tried to follow the line of sight from the adult Heron’s angle of view and at last found him about 50 feet up in the trees.

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

Great Blue Heron Adult on Shore and Fledgling in Tree – babsjeheron

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

Great Blue Heron Fledgling in Tree – babsjeheron

And so we three had a standoff – fledgling in the trees, adult on a branch at the shore, and me across the channel, trying to stay hidden below the oak branches.

People who know me know that my motto is “Walk softly and carry a long lens.™” Because most of the photos on this blog were taken on the water, it is especially important to give the wildlife an extra-wide margin of personal space so as to not endanger them in any way by venturing too close.

As much as I take special precautions to remain hidden from their view, including use of telephoto lenses and natural-cover hides, every once in a while the wildlife sees me. Such was the case yesterday – busted by both birds – the fledgling gazing down from his perch 50 feet up, and the adult glowering at me from across the channel.

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

Great Blue Heron Adult and Fledgling Looking at Photographer – babsjeheron

The question was, which of the three of us would give in first. Would the adult give up his rapt focus on the fledgling? Would the fledgling make a run for it? Would I tire of getting drenched watching them from under the oaks along the shoreline?

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

Great Blue Heron Fledgling Gets Away from Adult – babsjeheron

It was music to my eyes to see the fledgling make a run for it. The adult Heron swiftly took chase, but the fledgling had enough lead time to soar around the corner at the end of the channel before the adult got close.

I paddled off after them, well off their intense pace. When I rounded the curve at the end of the channel and panned the sky with binoculars, there was no sign of either Heron.

Lazily, I headed into the first cove I came to. There was the fledgling on the southern cove. His body language was anxious, and he was repeatedly glancing back to the mouth of the cove. It seemed like he was “looking over his shoulder” to make sure the territorial adult wasn’t still chasing him. He eventually settled down and began plying the shore for dinner. I felt as though he had had enough excitement for one day, and didn’t need my presence to add to his nervousness, and so I quietly backed out of the cove and headed south.

Within less than 3 minutes of leaving the fledgling in the cove, a shadow passed very close and very low over me. It was the fledgling.

I love happy endings.

Great Blue Heron Fledgling 1, Adult Great Blue 0

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Thanks to Ben H and WordPress for this week’s WPC Challenge: Edge. Ben has asked for something that kept our heart beating fast. Yesterday’s encounter on the lake kept me on the edge of my kayak’s seat and my heart in my throat and beating fast: would the fledgling escape the territorial adult?

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From July 1 through July 30, 2016, I was the Featured Artist of the Month at the Summer Street Gallery. The Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced the walls of the lobby and theater in a one-woman show at The Center for Arts in Natick. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

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™

© 2016 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN

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