Six Minutes of Wonderful – Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

The map is not the territory. ~ Korzybski

The photo is not the experience. ~ Babsje

Great blue heron silhouetted deep inside tunnel.

Great blue heron silhouetted deep inside tunnel.

I maneuvered the blue kayak into position and slowly nosed towards the tunnel entrance, when I noticed the great blue heron just inside. It was the mother of the fledglings that had left the nest on the island just nine days earlier. Quickly, I backpaddled a bit to get safely downwind and far enough back so I wouldn’t be seen, yet within camera range.

She strode slowly ahead, picking her way along the underwater ledge along the eastern side of the tunnel channel, then paused, erect, and stared across at something unseen. After a moment, she clambered higher onto the rocks along the wall and stood there, framed in stillness. I waited and watched from just outside the mouth of the tunnel.

She looked in my direction.

It was then that I heard it, during a lull in the muffled whoosh of car tires from the roadway twenty feet overhead, not simply the sound of the water lapping softly against the rocks.

“Arh…. arh…. arh…. arh….” with a litle tremulo.

It sounded low and deep and like a frog, and I swiveled my head to see where the frog was. There had been very few frogs that summer, due to the weather and water levels; I no longer head the bullfrogs as I drifted off to sleep each night as in years past, and so was excited to hear a frog.

And then I realized that this was no frog singing there within the tunnel. It was the heron vocalizing.

I edged in just a little closer and softly echoed back my own version of her 4-syllable call.

She repeated her refrain.


Great blue herons are often thought of as silent birds, but they are not. When frightened or fighting and sometimes when in flight, they call a croaking sound like “frawhnk.” During courtship, they sometimes intone a quiet call that sounds like “goo.” They sometimes greet members of their species with the “arh…” sounds.

I had heard this greeting sound only once before, about 6 years earlier while watching a juvenile in the cove in late summer. At the time back then, I also had thought it was a frog, but it wasn’t. It was the heron.

Crossing the tunnel at a slow glide in a kayak takes less than a minute. The great blue heron took more than six that day. What a wonderful six minutes to be present and observe there in stillness.


Thanks to Michelle and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside nudge.


(This took place August 21, 2012)

© 2013 Babsje. (

Posted on September 16, 2013, in ardea herodias, Art, daily prompt, DPchallenge, Great Blue Heron, Nature, Photography challenge, postaday, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. “Frawhnk” is a wonderful bird-sound word. How ones tires of the endless “Tsip”, “Kip” and “Wichety”! RH

    • Thanks, I’m glad you like that word. Spellcheck certainly doesn’t! I do like your examples of birdspeak, too. Thanks for visiting and commenting. Best, Babsje

  2. Impressive observation and articulate expression of the experience. Well done!

  3. Magical moment beautifully told.

  4. Quelle belle rencontre ce héron bleu ! Comme le récit ajoute à la magie de la photo, l’élégance de cette silhouette dans la lumière, et l’on imagine la beauté de cette stridulation, si rare à entendre ! Comme l’on voudrait aussi saisir toute la beauté de cette scène dans un kayak !

    • Je suis si contente que vous aimé ce post, je vous remercie pour votre aimable compliment sur la photo et écrits. Je suis très heureux ce jour-là pour entendre le grand héron parler “Arh…. Arh ….”, et je n’avais jamais vu un héron dans le tunnel et j’ai donc été heureux de constater que la photo de silhouette travaillait bien. La plupart des photos dans ma galerie de photos ont été prises à partir d’un kayak. Le kayak est merveilleux.

  5. A lovely black outline of the heron against the lighting background.

  6. What a magical experience. I have heard the harsh croaking sound of the blue heron on our lake. Your photo and description is wonderful. 🙂

  7. Awesome post! Thanks for sharing!

  1. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside (4) | Through the Eye of Bastet

  2. Pingback: Cat Got Your Tongue? | Babsje Heron

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: