Beautiful Great Blue Herons After the Storm (Not Art Nbr 10)

© Babsje (

Great Blue Heron and Four Chicks in Nest

The house rocked.
Windowpanes trembled with each percussive blow.
There was no separation at all between lightning bolt and thunderclap.
I huddled in the middle of the room, as far from windows as possible, waiting out the storm at ground zero.
But it wasn’t ground zero at all.

Photographer gets too close to a great blue heron nest while the nestlings are being fed by an adult.

Photographer gets too close to a great blue heron nest while the nestlings are being fed by an adult.

Close readers of this blog are aware of the protectiveness I feel towards the Great Blue Herons and their nesting places, especially the nesting island in the southernmost lake. I’ve written here about the fact that humans are among the most dangerous threats to the Herons.

Over the years, I’ve fretted about too much boat traffic encircling the nesting island, concerned that the adult Herons would abandon the nest and their chicks. And I’ve watched as predators like Osprey and Red Tailed Hawks threatened them.

Despite cautious monitoring of small craft and water skiers looping the island, despite watching with a lump in my throat as the predatory birds set their sights on the Heron chicks, at the end of the day, the nest was toppled by extreme winds.

An act of Nature, not of Man.

It was the Great Blue Herons’ nesting island – and not my home – that was at ground zero for the storm that night, and the tall tree supporting the Herons’ nest collapsed.

Only two months before the storm, I wrote of the sounds of the four Great Blue Heron chicks in the nest as music to my ears:

Chih-chih-chih… chih-chih-chih… chih-chih-chih… changes.
It’s not just a David Bowie song.

And what of those four chicks in the photo at the top of this post? Had they fledged before the storm took out their nest? Surely that would be their only hope for survival.

I returned to the lake every day I could after the storm, looking for survivors. I saw at least one of the fledgling chicks and one of the adult, parent Herons. My heart beamed elatedly.

© 2017 Babsje (

Great Blue Heron adult two days after the storm – babsjeheron

Back in August 2015, I wrote of that nest

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

© 2017 Babsje (

Great Blue Heron Fledgling sighting locations on the Lake September 2016 – babsjeheron


Fast forward one year, to September 2016. I had no idea where – or even IF – the Herons would breed again in that area. You may remember my story of the Bald Eagle stalking the Great Blue Fledglings one rainy day.

That day, the Eagle was looking for lunch in all the wrong places.

That day, I counted more Great Blue fledglings than I’d ever seen before in a single day.

I’ve been looking for the new nesting spot, to no avail so far. That is a good thing. If I can’t find it, neither will the water skiers with their noisy motor boats.

I love happy endings like that.


Thanks to Ben H and WordPress for their recent WPC Challenge: Resilient. If surviving that fierce storm and coming back the following year with an even larger crop of fledglings is not a sign that the Great Blue Herons are resilient, I don’t know what is. Events like that storm and the survival of some of the Herons in the aftermath, and their successful breeding the following year are also increasing my own resilience, increasing my optimism for the future survival of the small community of Herons at the lake. Each year there are new threats – especially from habitat destruction along the shoreline and in a few of the coves – but so far, each year, the Herons maintain their wing-hold at the lake.

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™

© 2017 Babsje. (

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN

Posted on January 1, 2017, in ardea herodias, Art, 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. 6 Comments.

  1. Congrats on your success Babsje, and of course on the success of the beautiful herons. Happy New Year to you and to them!

  2. I think birds will return to their nesting places despite natural events and believe it would take something really destructive to disturb that tendency. I also find the birds extremely resilient …something we need to be grateful for as it bodes well for recovery when we humans make mistakes. Not that we can take that for granted. We know more and we need to be the best custodians we can.

    When you mention the sounds of hungry chicks clamoring for a meal….I love that sound. At the local rookery it was my favourite thing to go up the boardwalk and be drawn in by the chorus of baby chicks looking for a meal flight from Mom or Dad. My hearing loss has taken that away that delightful racket. I really don’t hear the chicks now but I remember.

    This year I will pursue getting evaluated for cochlear implant and who knows maybe I will get that back!!!!

    • Hi Judy – glad you like this one and many thanks for your kind words. I hope your cochlear implant works out! Between your hearing and my eyesight, we make quite a pair, unfortunately. I can’t imagine not being able to hear that chi…chi…chi… from the chicks at the nest.

      And you’re right about the birds returning to the nest – that is something they are programmed to do. In the case of this storm, the Herons’ nest was destroyed, as was that of the Red Tailed Hawks, who’s nest was about 10 feet behind the downed tree in that pboto of the adult Great Blue. I never did see any RTH in the area after the storm – even a year later – and my fear was they were at the nest when the microburst hit.

      All that being said, the birds are definitely resilent, and that bodes well indeed! Happy New Years to you and yours. Best, Babsje

  3. Think the herons dont have it easy in stormy days

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