All They’re Cracked Up To Be

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

Helen Keller
The Open Door

© Babsje (

Great Blue Heron at rest between adventures.

So, about the title of this post. While it definitely applies to the Great Blue Herons’ adventures, in this case it’s something much closer to home: my ribs. I’d love to be able to write that I cracked my ribs in some great daring adventure, but the truth is more prosaic.

What definitely was an adventure, however, was the recent photo shoot for the heron shown here.

People who know my photography know that I’m a big proponent of photographing while concealed within a “hide” to avoid interfering with wildlife. On this particular day, I was in a natural-cover hide along the northern shoreline. The water levels in the lake are about four feet below normal for this time of year, and so I was able to get the kayak snugged deeper under the branches yet closer to the collapsed pile of fallen white pines.

I had settled in, waiting for the heron to make her daily appearance, and she did, right on schedule. What I wasn’t expecting, though, was that the heron would also settle in on that particular log, so close to my hiding place. The heron truly settled in, and actually started to nap, dropping her head and neck til they were resting against her upper chest, then drooping her eyelids shut. Every so often she would startle a bit, jerk her head up, then drift back off to sleep.

At one point, I realized the wake from a passing boat had caused my kayak to drift even further under the branches, the leaves obscuring my line of sight. There wasn’t enough room to maneuver with my paddle, and the flashing of the blade might have alerted the heron to my presence, so I scooted lower and lower into the cockpit of the kayak to keep the heron in the frame. Eventually, even that position became fruitless and I had only one choice: call it a day.

No, wait, a second option occurred to me, and so I maneuvered myself mostly out of the cockpit by crawling onto the bow deck. The kayak was in about six inches of water there, so rolling wasn’t a threat, although getting swamped by waves was a possibility. Ignoring the likelihood of a big boat wake crashing over the bow, I rested prone on my elbows, with my PFD accidentally caught securely by an overhanging branch behind me. I rocked the boat gently from side to side to test our stability and then quickly squeezed off a few photos of the resting heron, including the one shown here.

Getting myself back into the kayak cockpit afterwards was an adventure in and of itself, and I’m pleased to have been able to back-paddle the kayak out of the hide without alerting or flushing the heron, who continued to doze on the log.

Needless to say I won’t be clambering out onto the bow of a boat any time soon, cracked ribs and all.

But that’s ok.

Enjoying the herons’ adventures vicariously is more than enough adventure for now.


This week’s photo challenge is adventure. Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for this topic.

Thanks again to Paula for hosting her wonderful Thursday’s Special non-challenge.

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

Thanks to the kind folks at Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless 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 September 11, 2014, in ardea herodias, Art, Audubon, Birds, Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, Nature, Photography, Photography challenge, postaday, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wild Bird Wednesday, Wildlife Photography, Wordless Wednesday and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. A lot of effort went into this wonderful shot. Enjoyed reading about your adventure. Feel better soon.

  2. I’m impressed that you were able to get so close, and get such good shots, and then depart without disturbing the heron. Well done! So sorry to hear about the cracked ribs – are you still able to paddle? I certainly hope so. Sending healing thoughts and my ongoing thanks for sharing the results of your photographic expertise.

    • Many thanks for the thoughtful comment, Sarah. I’m glad to hear you appreciate the herons. Thanks for the empathy about my ribs – I did give paddling a try last weekend, and it didn’t hurt too much until I bottomed out in the shallows and had to “pole” my way out of the muck. Ouch!

  3. This is a great shot by a determined person! May you continue to heal. And be careful!

    • So glad you like it, thanks for your kind words and get well wishes. There’s a fine line between determined and obsessed. I may have crossed it that day in particular.

  4. She’s beautiful. How soft her feathers look.

  5. Oh my. I hope you feel better. The sacrifices we make for our animals;)

    • Indeed, the sacrifices we make. So often, they’re just spontaneous – I never would have planned ahead to position myself out on the bow of the kayak, that’s for sure. Thanks for the get-well wishes!

  6. Sigh… so very beautiful.

  7. The things we’ll do for a great photo like this one! Wishing you a speedy recovery from the broken ribs.

  8. This is one magnificent shot, Babsje, but so sorry about the ribs. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  9. Oh God, I am sorry to hear about your accident Babsje, though this is the most impressive photo of heron you have displayed here. Thank you so very much for getting back in touch. Are you in pain?

    • Hi Paula – I’m so glad you like this heron photo, she is one of my favorite great blues. I’m not in a great deal of pain, thanks for asking – it mostly hurts when I cough or laugh. 🙂

  10. Hope the rib knits quickly! Last time I cracked a bone I was running about in the dark chasing my son!!

    Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne

  11. Great capture Babsje, busted ribs and all.

  12. Ouch! No wonder I haven’t seen much of you lately. Hope the rib is healing well.

  13. Oh boy, what we do to get a shot! Hope you heal quickly!

  14. thesmilingpilgrim

    I love the quote! You lead with a quote like that and a picture like that and you’re already going great in my books ;)!

  1. Pingback: Thursday’s Special: By Night | Lost in Translation

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