The Day of the Helicopter: 15 Minutes of Google Satellite Fame

The helicopter flew low and slow above the channel. I glanced up at it quickly to see what insignia it carried, but didn’t bother with the binoculars and so didn’t get a good look. Helicopters aren’t rare over the lake, in fact the building next door had one parked on the roof, and besides, I was in a hurry to find great blue herons to photograph.

© Babsje (

Guess who in the blue kayak?

I nosed the kayak through the first tunnel, then curved sharp right into the slender finger-like cove where herons sometimes perched. Just as the kayak slid out from under the tree canopy, I heard it again. The helicopter was flying directly over the cove. Since the cove paralleled the turnpike for a small distance, I thought maybe it was a traffic copter, put it out of mind and paddled deeper seeking out herons.

No luck finding herons there, I paddled back out towards the big lake. Just as I exited the cove, the helicopter reappeared, right overhead again. Seeing the same helicopter in a short timespan over a small area seemed odd. Maybe it wasn’t traffic-related, I thought, maybe it was a video crew getting some B-roll footage for TV or a movie being filmed near Boston. Whatever it was, I hoped they wouldn’t capture me. I’m notoriously camera-shy.

By the fourth time I encountered the helicopter that morning, I decided to make contact, and gave them a big wave goodbye with my paddle and took the kayak elsewhere on the lake.

Fast forward to the next winter.

It was a stormy night, one of those howling New England winter storms that made me long for warm days on the water. That night, I was frittering away some time online before sleep, and in an idle moment wondered what the lake looked like in a satellite view.

I found the lake, at left in this next photo, and then zoomed in until I found some of my favorite nooks and crannies, and then zoomed in again. In the second frame are two light dots. I zoomed in again, and in the third frame, the dots are larger still.

And with one final click to zoom in as close in as the satelite/mapping software allows, the two dots become two vessels. One, a fishing boat. The other? A blue kayak. With me aboard.

And then it all came back to me in retrospect, the day of the helicopter. It wasn’t the traffic or news or B-roll, it was part of the Google mapping project. And my concern about being captured was NOT unfounded.

At least a viewer can’t zoom in any closer than in the top photo of this post. I can live with that degree of anonymity. I think.

© Babsje (

Zooming in on the lake.

This week, Cheri and WordPress have challenged us to show something grand, “…we want you to consider not just the size of something, but also that special element: the “wow factor” of a scene or subject…” “…shots that will make our jaws drop.”

I don’t know how you would feel about finding yourself while zooming in from a satellite view first of the continent, then the Eastern Seaboard, then Eastern Massachusetts, then all the way down to your boat on the water, but my jaw literally dropped, and I did say “Wow.”

That helicopter day happened a few years ago, and the same image is still out there in the satellite views, but something more recently has brought on more “wows”: I have been honored with four blogging awards, shown here.


Donna for the Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award – Nov 25th

Robbie for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award – Dec 3rd

Donna for the Versatile Blogger Award – Dec 5th

Cee for the Most Influential Blogger Award – Dec 6th



This is truly humbling, and I am virtually speechless by the generously, thoughtfulness, and kindness of Donna, Robbie, and Cee. I owe each and every one of you my sincere gratitude for the recognition you’ve shown my blog and a proper reply per the rules of each award. I am tardy in my formal replies and will be working on them this week. I have been recovering since Thanksgiving week from a severe allergic reaction to an insect bite on my foot (that spread) and the grogginess from round the clock Benadryl has had me running on half cylinders. I’m on the mend now, tomorrow will be my first day off Benadryl, so watch for more thank-yous in a few days!

In the meantime, your kind gestures mean a lot, many many thanks!


Thanks also to Cheri Lucas Rowlands and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand 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™

© 2013 Babsje. (

Awards, Kayaking

Posted on December 9, 2013, in Art, Awards, Inspiration, Kayaking, Most Influential Blogger Award, Nature Photography, Photography, postaday, Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award, Versatile Blogger Award, Very Inspired Blogger Award, Weekly Photo Challenge and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Interesting! It is strange have one’s life mapped without permission. G@@gle are adept in the UK with their close-up & zoomable street map project – our house, our cars, our door locks, alarm system and so on. And there again, in a remote hamlet in Wales – me + family, innocently ‘caught’ on holiday as the G@@gle-car drove past with camera whirring. I’d mind less if I was under covert but official surveillance, I think (I probably am… hi, guys). RH

    • That would be especially unnerving to be in a remote area and have your family captured too! Chilling, really. I think the UK has led the US in municipal CCT coverage, but then we have the lead on phone captures, unfortunately. For an average person like me, there could be unexpected ramifications of being filmed unexpectedly. For my example, it took place on a weekday. Fortunately, I had officially taken that day as a “vacation day” from my job, but what if I had not? And another question: what do they do with the B-roll from those captures? I’m sure there is more footage of me in the kayak they have, and with much closer views of my person. Thanks for your thought-provoking comment!

  2. oh, I suffer from allergies and I do know what you mean by around the clock exhaustion from benadryl..hope you feel better soon…That is so neat to find yourself out there in the water! You look so tiny in comparison to your surroundings:-)

    • Thanks for your kind get well wishes, and sorry to hear you have the allergies, too. This was so bad I thought I would lose my toe, lol. You’re right, I do look tiny out there. The kayak was a 14.5 footer to give you perspective. The branchlike object in front of the motorboat was the partly-submerged pine tree where I photographed one great blue heron fishing with a feather and a different heron fishing with a twig. Amazing what we can find in the satellite view world! Thanks again.

  3. Cool. I guess you and time are standing still for Google!

  4. At least you didn’t have pay Google a preferred placement fee. 🙂

  5. Really cool story! Congrats on the awards.

    I am going to talk about myself for a few, so anyone not into this quasi narcissism moment feel free to let you thoughts wander elsewhere. I was a commercial diver for over 30 years. My office was Kentucky Lake upon the Tennesse River. Sometimes Lake Barkley over on the Cumberland. I harvested freshwater mussels for use in the cultured pearl industry. The shell quality here is the best in the world for that market, they (Japan/China/South Sea Islands) took the shell and fashioned round nuclei that are then inserted into oysters and given time, the oyster coates the nucleus with fresh nacre, forming the cultured pearl. Now my moniker may make some sense. Anyway…

    My very first day, I went out with my neighbor who had a diving rig set up, he supplied all of the gear, and hired guys like me to do the work. There was a guy already working on the boat it was rigged for 2 divers. On our way out that morning I saw a Blue Heron fly by. I asked the other diver (Charlie was all I ever knew to call him) “what kind of bird is that?” His reply was “that’s a bad ugly bird” Even knowing now, what to call them proper, I still can’t shake the term “bad ugly bird” These birds while inherently beautiful, have a gangly awkward look at least when they are airborne. Once settled in on a shallow spot, then they take on a more elegant, regal look, that can be appreciated. Many years ago they weren’t all that common. Now they are thick as rocks in a creek bed. I have seen islands loaded up with them. We also have a lot of osprey, and a growing population of bald eagles. Not to mention droves of migrating pelican. Also was a great place to watch butterfly migrations every spring/fall as well as a predictable balloon spider invasion every year.

    About a year later, from that first day I managed to put together my own diving setup, and ventured out as an independent. Spent the next 30 years doing a job I still love, and wish my old aching back would let me do. I must confess it is an addiction and I miss it.

    I would love to get back out there armed with a camera, and spend my days on the water. There is nothing quite like being out there immersing yourself with nature, and I can so relate to your Heron hobby 🙂

    • Thanks for your fascinating comment – it definitely makes your handle take on meaning. That sounds like quite an unusual and interesting occupation, and I had no idea that American shell is used to help create cultured pearls in Asia, wow. It sounds like an amazing job to do, diving for mussels. Maybe now you can get out there with a camera and capture the birds. It’s wonderful that their populations are so healthy. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  6. Congratulations on being immortalized by Google and your awards!

    • Immortalized by Google – now there’s a scary concept! Many thanks for your kind comment and for brining a smile. Eventually Google will need to refresh the satellite, right, I hope.

  1. Pingback: Just Sayin… A Word about Awards | Babsje Heron

  2. Pingback: Very Inspiring Blogger Award, Thanks Palm Rae Urban Potager! | Babsje Heron

  3. Pingback: Versatile Blogger Award | Babsje Heron

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