Thus Spake Yoda

    Do, or do not. There is no try.

    Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

    © Babsje (

    Great blue heron flies by.

    I blame it on the beaver lodge.

    No, that’s not right.

    I blame it on the beavers.

    Or more accurately, on the beady eyes peering up at me from the shallows near the shoreline.

    Actually, that’s not correct either.

    I blame it on the absence of beady eyes just above the surface.

    While kayaking a few weeks ago, I discovered a beaver lodge in the cove, the first one there in at least a decade. I took a few photos of the tall tangle of branches and twigs, but was more interested in seeing, and photographing, a beaver. (I have never done that before, muskrats, yes, beavers, no.) As luck would have it that afternoon, there were two beaver kits paddling around the point not far from the den, but they both quickly slipped beneath the surface and disappeared before I could focus the camera.

    So, last weekend I went back to the cove to try to photograph the beavers.

    This, of course, was a mistake.

    I learned long ago to open myself, and my eyes and camera, to whatever experiences and sights the lake brought forth at any moment. I had learned the hard way that “trying” to capture a specific subject meant that I would be missing out on what was unfolding right before my eyes.

    I learned that mindfulness is a powerful tool for a photographer.

    So, there I was last weekend in the cove fifty yards or so from the beaver lodge, scanning the surface of the waters with my binoculars, looking for a pair of beady eyes or a tuft of greenery being dragged along, trailing a small wake behind.

    A flurry of activity at ten o’clock caught my eye and I paddled a bit closer and refocused the binocs.

    Nope, not the eyes of a beaver: a swarm of dragonflies flitting and alighting on something, maybe a leaf.

    I padded closer still to frame the swarm and through the lens realized the leaf was a feather, a single gorgeous raptor feather.

    And as I was dialing down the lens for a closeup of the feather, a shadow passed directly overhead, and I saw a reflection framed on the water a few yards south – a great blue heron.

    Without thinking – without having to “try” at all – I lifted the camera and fired off this one shot as the heron flew by.

    Did I mention that no two days at the lake are the same?

    You can’t step in photograph the same waters twice.


    Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Extra-Extra. The water droplet falling from the heron’s talon adds something extra to this high-speed action shot.

    Thanks to Paula for her wonderful Thursday’s Special Non-Challenge.

    Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for hosting the Wild Bird Wednesday challenge.


    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. (

    Great Blue Heron, Kayaking

Posted on June 19, 2014, in ardea herodias, Art, Audubon, Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, Mindfulness, Photography, Photography challenge, postaday, Thursday's Special, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wild Bird Wednesday, Wildlife Photography and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. Gorgeous!

  2. That lesson is such an easy one to forget. I don’t know how many times I’ve fallen into that trap myself.

  3. Oh my gosh, how is it your photos just keep getting more and more amazing?! I keep meaning to email you. Want to do dinner again so we can catch up?

    • Hi Naomi! Thanks for your kind comment, glad you’ve been visiting here. It would be great to catch up, has been too long, and I was thinking of you the other day. Dinner sounds good, I’ll give you a call over the weekend.

  4. An awesome photo of the heron!

  5. …and that’s the way it goes. 🙂 First and foremost, you gotta be there, forget the clock and be aware. Great shot, Babsje!

  6. What a beauty! Thank you for the entry, Babsje!

  7. Yep, that’s how it goes. You need to be constantly alert and quick to respond……and hope your camera settings are where they should be! 🙂 Great shot.

    • Yes, you are so right about that. Plus, you need to actually have a camera with you, unlike my first snowy owl sighting last winter! Glad you like this one, many thanks for your kind comment.

  8. laurie27wsmith

    It’s not that I dislike you or anything, 😉 but that is one great shot.

  9. Babsje, we have been in the high country of Colorado where we found a great blue heron in an abandoned mining pond at 10,000 feet. No camera though. Thanks for your attention to all that so easily could be overlooked.

  1. Pingback: Thursday’s Special: Blue Hour | Lost in Translation

  2. Pingback: Great Blue Heron Photos of the Year | Babsje Heron

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