Grow Grow Grow Your Boat – Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturated and Sunday Stills: Birds

Entirely unaware of the fledgling great blue heron beside the boat garden, stalking him with increasing speed, the yearling heron plied the shoreline. Perhaps it was his curiosity about the fire pit in front of the Adirondack chairs that led him to put his guard down?

Great blue heron fledgling in territorial display by boat garden.

Great blue heron fledgling in territorial display by boat garden.

A favorite location for photographing herons is the sunken boat garden shown in this photo. Each year, the property owners plant something different. One year the boat contained tubs of cherry tomatoes that looked delectable when fully ripe, the bright red of the fruit promising sweetness.

To the south of the boat garden are two hammocks suspended out over the water that look so inviting on sweltering August afternoons. Next door is a tableau of Aridondack chairs gathered near a fire pit, and I can imagine lounging in a hammock while dinner sizzling nearby teases my senses.

Each year, it’s a treat to explore that area of the lake to see what has been planted, and to try for heron photos with the boat garden. Photographing them there is tricky for a couple of reasons. The angle of the sun is good for only a short while each day; it’s in the shadows in the morning and for much of the afternoon the light is too bright and harsh. Even when the light is good, of course there’s no guarantee that there will be any herons plying that section of the cove.

On this day, I was somewhat in luck – there was a yearling great blue heron foraging along the shore to the north of the boat garden. Most great blues follow a consistent direction when fishing along the shore. Just like “mall walkers” who get their exercise by walking a circuit around a mall before the shops open, herons generally pick a direction and follow that direction. That day, it was looking good because the yearling was heading down the shore in the direction of the boat garden.

I settled the kayak into a secluded spot and set up to photograph the heron when it neared the boat garden. And then I waited.

Sometimes no matter how well a photographer plans, the model has others ideas, and this was one of those times. The heron lazily worked his way up to the boat and just when I was ready for shots of the heron moving along in front of the boat, it ducked behind the stern, instead, and proceeded south, obscured by the towering gladiolus in the boat!

All was not lost, I thought to myself, maybe the heron would do something photogenic by the hammocks or the Adirondack chairs and fire pit while the light was still good. I shifted my focus in that direction and waited for the heron to catch up.

It was looking promising for some photos with the chairs, and I had started firing off a few when I heard a slight rustle overhead. I looked up and saw a fledgling great blue heron perching on a limb directly over the beach where the other heron was curiously investigating the fire pit.

The fledgling swooped out of the canopy and landed just to the north of the boat garden and suddenly took on a territorial posture. I have blogged here in the past about fledgling herons in the nest playfully practicng various displays (click here and here) but this was the first time I had seen a fledgling put a genuine territorial display to use against an older, larger heron in a shoreline situation.

Back feathers erect, such as they were at this point in the fledgling’s development, the fledgling strutted down the shore towards the yearling, who was engrossed with the fire pit. A few moments after the photo shown above, though, the older heron caught sight of the aggressive fledgling bearing down on him and burst from the sand out over the water, heading southwest.

The fledgling, having proved his mettle and securing both the beach and his status as an alpha bird, relaxed his pose and spent several minutes exploring the boat garden before eventually flying off to the north.

What a thrilling experience that day, to see a very young great blue heron assert dominance over an older and larger heron.


Thanks to Michelle W. and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturated.

Thanks also to Ed Prescott for the Sunday Stills: Birds prompt.

The topic for the Weekly Photo Challenge this week is “saturated.” The photo included in this post is one of the most saturated of my heron photos, which are generally more muted due to the coloration of the birds.


(This took place September 17, 2011)

© 2013 Babsje. (

Posted on September 30, 2013, in ardea herodias, Bird photography, Birds, daily prompt, Fledgling heron, Great Blue Heron, Nature Photography, Photography challenge, postaday, Sunday Stills, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Love the bright colors of the boat and the flowers with the purposeful, beautiful heron in front. Good story, too!

  2. Enjoyed your post! Beautiful photo!

  3. What a a fabulous photo, Babsje. I love the saturated colours for a change. you described the incident so well that I felt I was also there, holding my breath. 🙂
    You are one of the featured bloggers in my CBBH Challenge post.

    • Thanks so much for the kind comment, I’m glad you like the vibrant colors. Its quite a compliment that you felt you were right there – thanks for saying that.

      Not sure if you noticed, but I had replied earlier to your pingback comment, thanking you for the shout-out on your blog today – that was a cool surprise, very kind of you to do that. I loved your pink theme in your post today, btw, the sort of color thqat gives the warm & fuzzies. Thanks again. Best, Babsje

  4. Quelle belle fraîcheur des couleurs ! Et ce héron, attentif, aux aguets, si près d’un élan !

  5. Quelle belle fraîcheur des couleurs ! Et ce héron, attentif, aux aguets, si près d’un élan ! Très intéressant récit aussi.

  6. Great shot with the boat, but I was hoping you got some shots of the chairs , fire pit etc….your story of this area sounds like a place I could just stay forever…a shoreline, birds, chairs and dinner outside…sounds peaceful….you “took me away” in your post…thank you!

    • Glad my post took you there, that’s one of my favorite corners of the lake, although I haven’t yet been invited over for alfresco dining with the herons. Since you asked, here’s a view of the yearling with the Adirondack chairs. It doesn’t do justice, though. Click here to see that photo.

  7. Loved your post! What a wonderful experience and a terrific capture to boot!

  8. Good one, well done 🙂

  1. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturated | Outreach

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