Great Blue Herons 1, Bald Eagle 0 (Not Art Nbr 6)

© Babsje (

Great Blue Heron watching a Bald Eagle in the rain September 2016 – babsjeheron

© Babsje (

Bald Eagle in the rain at water level – babsjeheron

Wherein the Bald Eagle was looking for lunch in all the wrong places.

Readers may remember the dismay felt when a fierce storm toppled the Great Blue Herons’ nesting tree on the island in August, 2015. Back then, I wrote of that nest

those chicks are destined to be the last brood to fledge from our island.

Fast forward one year. I had no idea where – or even IF – the Herons would breed again in that area.

[Editor’s Note: All of these photos were taken in the rain, with the camera encased in a gallon-size ZipLok bag. Ordinarily, I feel that if I need to use yellow circles to point out features in a photo, I’m on a slippery slope and probably shouldn’t publish them, but this was an extraordinary experience, a once-in-a-lifetime and so I’ve made an exception.]

Suspense was palpable as I ventured south in search of Great Blue Heron fledglings. Over a short distance I counted them. One, two, three… then four, then five. Could there really be five fledglings there? One adult, then two adults – both on alert, staring in the same direction from opposite shores. And then Fledglings six, seven, eight on various patches of shoreline. I hardly knew which way to aim and focus the camera.

I panned down the western shore, and the Eagle perched on a stump at the water’s edge suddenly filled the viewfinder. So that’s what the adult Herons were watching so intensely.

Scanning the shoreline father south from the Eagle, the whole picture came into view. The Eagle was closely watching two Great Blue Heron fledglings.

© Babsje (

Bald Eagle on Shore Watching Great Blue Heron Fledglings – babsjeheron

Great Blue Herons are not noted for being playful birds, yet fledgling Herons, like youngsters of many species, often engage in rough and tumble play. The two fledglings on the shore were engaging in mock-territorial squabbles, one challenging the other, back and forth until they lost interest, all the while unaware of the danger posed by the Eagle nearby.

© Babsje (

Great Blue Heron Fledglings squabble in the rain – babsjeheron

The Bald Eagle quickly took flight up into the tree canopy, unseen by the fledglings, but the adult Heron nearest stood up higher, alert on the shore. I scanned the trees, myself, but no sign of the Eagle.

The fledglings, meanwhile, had separated and settled onto separate areas of the shore. I worked my camera, trying to capture as many birds as possible in the rain.

Suddenly chaos erupted from the trees, and the Eagle swooped out and down, but just as quickly, some of the Herons took flight, too.

© Babsje (

Bald Eagle swoops out of tree towards Heron fledglings – babsjeheron

© Babsje (

Great Blue Heron Fledgling heads East and Bald Eagle soars West – babsjeheron

By this point, the Heron fledglings had scattered, and the Bald Eagle left the area, without its intended lunch. In the top photo here, you can see the Eagle soaring up and over the trees at the end of the lake.

© Babsje (

Bald Eagles Dispersing – babsjeheron

But wait, what’s that you see in the bottom frame above? It was taken 5 seconds after the frame above it, along the same patch of shore.

Yes, there were two Bald Eagles that day.


Thanks to Ben H and WordPress for their recent WPC Challenge: Rare. This was an exceptionally rare experience to witness. In 2015, I had no sightings of Bald Eagles. Additionally, the bumper crop of Great Blue Heron Fledglings was the largest I’ve observed. On a scale of 1 to 10, that day on the lake was a 15 for me… But not for the Bald Eagle, who left without having lunch. For that, the Great Blue Herons and I are grateful.

From July 1 through July 30, 2016, I was the Featured Artist of the Month at the Summer Street Gallery. The Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced the walls of the lobby and theater in a one-woman show at The Center for Arts in Natick. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

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™

© 2016 Babsje. (

Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagle, Kayaking, TCAN

Posted on September 5, 2016, in ardea herodias, Audubon, Bald eagle, Bird photography, Birds, Great Blue Heron, Photo Essay, Photography, Photography challenge, postaday, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Wow, what a sight that must have been! So glad you were able to capture these shots to share with us.

    • Hi Sarah – Many thanks for the kind words. It was an extraordinary day, I was blown away and pleased that some of the photos came out. It’s tricky shooting upwards in the rain. Best, Babsje

  2. Babsje,
    Wow! I don’t mind the circles at all. They help you tell the story of the day to day struggle of these creatures. I am so glad you were the witness. GWH

    • Hi GWH. Thanks for validating my choice to encircle the Herons and Eagle. Of course, it would have been preferable to have the day clear and dry for better photo quality, but I’m so fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time, with ZipLok bags in my kit. Glad you like this post. Best, Babsje

  3. Beautiful story. You are courageous & persistent. Wonderful photos & text.

    • Many thanks for your kind words. I’m glad you liked this photo essay. It was an extraordinary day out there – rain and all. I’m grateful to have been in the right place at the right time tbat day. Bwst, Babsje

  4. Wow – What an outstanding photo shoot. You had me on the edge of my chair the entire time. I’m grateful you posted this series of shots to share with the rest of us. Thank you. Sheri

  5. If that eagle had really wanted one of those Heron’s it could of taken it. With that other eagle being there I think it must of been there for it?
    The first drop of rain that hits you is an act of God…..the second is your own damn fault!
    I’m a sunshine photographer myself,I never shoot in rain but on occasion I do come into a small rain cloud from time to time.
    Good for you sticking it out Babsje!

    • Thanks Wayne and a8 guess you’re right. It the Eagle wanted Heron for lunch he would have gotten it. I’ve seen a photo of an Eagle-Heron encounter in northern California that left the Great Blue crumpled on the ground. One of those Eagles liked to swoop just about 10 feet above me, coming over me from the kayak stern and so the first thing I sensed was just a huge shadow overtaking me before I realized there had even been an Eagle in those trees. It was a big surprise. Best, Babsje

      • I have been surprised many times by them! I know they are around but cannot see them?
        I swear the Daredevil does it on purpose sometimes!

        • Yeah. How do they so that? Make themselves so almost invisible? I have visually tracked a couple with careful line of sight and wooosh the Eagle simply disappears into the canopy. There are very few Eagles around here and so losing sight of one is a bit frustrating. 😊

          • There may be something more going on Babsje? Eagles know of routes through the canopy. They use these tunnels to escape other eagles chasing them! I saw one eagle chasing another once and they went full speed straight into the forest! I heard 10 seconds later a loud crash! I went around the peninsula and waited for a eagle to come out of the bush and sure did!
            Eagles use these routes as escape tunnels when things get dicey!
            It always amazes me that a seven foot wing span can go through such thick original growth forest!

  1. Pingback: Beautiful Great Blue Herons After the Storm (Not Art Nbr 10) | Babsje Heron

  2. Pingback: Beautiful Great Blue Herons – Playtime? – (Not Art Nbr 19) | Babsje Heron

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