Great Blue Heron On Litter Patrol (Not Art Nbr 24)

© Babsje (

Great blue heron holding a huge plastic bag she pulled from the muck along the shore.

Her fishing technique that day was unlike anything I’d witnessed before: she poked and prodded the muck along the south end of the cove for at least half an hour. Her trophy? This huge plastic bag. At one time, it contained something large, larger than a king-sized pillow to be sure.

© 2017 Babsje (

Great Blue Herons with Litter – babsjeheron

The young male had been intently watching the female from yards away down the cove while she was trying to pull the bag free, and he rapidly made a beeline towards that patch of shoreline. He had tried so valiantly that autumn to seduce the older female heron. Was this his chance?

I’m not sure if he was more interested in pursuing her as a mate or in wresting the huge plastic bag from her.

© 2017 Babsje (

Great Blue Carrying Huge Plastic Bag – babsjeheron

Whichever was his intention, she was having none of it. She pivoted on her heels and flew westward out of the cove with the bag trailing from her beak, leaving the young male behind.

Young great blue heron.

Still in a courtship posture, the young male looks on dejectedly after the female fled the cove.
I wish I could say that the female was carrying the bag voluntarily, but I cannot: the plastic was hooked securely on her lower bill.

I quickly paddled out of the cove, hoping to follow her and ensure that she freed herself from the bag. Under the shade of tall pines, she shook and shook her head from side-to-side the way a dog shakes a rag.

To no avail.

© Babsje (

Great Blue Heron’s Trash Bag – babsjeheron

More than three weeks later, I found the plastic trash bag floating and retrieved it. Here it is on the ground next to my boat for scale. The boat is 15 feet long. As you can see, that plastic bag was nearly half the length of the boat.

And what of the two Great Blue Herons?

They both survived migration that year and returned in the spring and successfully nested.

I like happy endings.

From December 4 through January 28, 2020, my Great Blue Heron photographs are once again on display on the walls of the lobby and theater in a free one-woman show at the Summer Street Gallery, of The Center for Arts in Natick.

If you’re in the Boston or Metro West area, please stop by to see the Great Blue Herons. Many of the photos in the exhibit are being shown for the first time, and do not appear on the blog. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.

The gallery is open whenever the box office is open, so please check hours here.

And who knows, maybe I’ll see you there one day.

I’d like that.

Thanks to Cee for her On the Hunt for Joy Challenge. I jumped for joy when I saw proof the female had broken free of the plastic bag stuck on her bill.

Debbie’s One Word Sunday’s prompt asks for posts about Plastics . Plastic bag pollution is insidious and Debbie’s post has an important message.

Once more, thanks and kudos to the inspiring Lens Artists – Patti, Tina, Amy, and Leya – for their continuing devotion to elevating and celebrating photography.
From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 81: Find Something Red.
From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 81: Seeing Red.
From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 81: Find Something Red.
From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 81: Find Something Red.


Thanks to Erica V and WordPress for the recent WPC: Place in the World. My favorite place is where the Herons are, of course it is. And the Herons? Their place is near the water, but also on the gallery walls and my blog. How else can I share them with you?

Thanks also to Ben H and WordPress for their WPC Challenge: Liquid. The Herons are drawn to water, as am I.

During September and October, 2018, the Great Blue Herons were featured on the walls of the Natick Town Hall, located at 13 East Central Street in Natick, MA.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2020 Babsje. (

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick, Wayland

Posted on January 26, 2020, in ardea herodias, Art, Birds, Great Blue Heron, Photo Essay, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. Harold Rhenisch

    Way to go GBH!

  2. I was glad to hear that these herons survived. I shudder to think of how many animals die a death from plastics. We have to get serious about making changes to our plastic disposal methods. Use less to start with and think about where it will end up. Thanks for this post to remind us!

  3. Many thanks for your thoughtful comment. I was elated that they survived. They both mates with other Great Blues the next year (they do not mate for life) and it was thrilling to see the chicks. Plastic bag pollution is so insidious and it is encouraging to see more plastic bag bans being implemented. Best, Babsje

  4. What a superb story Babsje – loved the happy ending. So sad for those that are not so happy – this one was very lucky. Your images tell the story as well as your text

    • Hi Tina – Thanks so.much for.your kind words. That was a white-knuckle experience, feeling helpless at being unable to liberate the bag stuck on the Heron’s bill, but it was also touching watching the young male trying out his courtship moves. The plastics pollution problem extends beyond bags unfortunately. So many fishermen leave styrofoam bait boxes that crumble. Birds and turtles that injest the bits of styrofoam and starve to death. So much work to be done. Best, Babsje

  5. I love your story, Babsje, and the happy ending! I hope your exhibition is going well.

    • Hi Patti – Many thanks, I’m glad you like happy endings as well as I do. The gallery show has it’s own happy ending this Wednesday. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share the Great Blue Herons therm. Thanks again for letting people to also continue to share in the great Lens Artist space online. Best, Babsje

  6. Nice the story had a happy ending. It breaks my heart to know of these terrible things we do to the wild critters out there.

  7. Glad for the happy ending – and so sad that these plastics wreak havoc on wildlife and nature –
    Also, congrats on the show

  8. Excellent captures of the GBH! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  9. A story with a happy ending – that is what we all need. Beautifully captured too. A change is on its way…there must be. The strange thing is, that people (governments aso.) don’t understand that if nature and biodiversity ends – that will be the end of us all.

  10. Oh what wonderful heron photos you have for this week. Thanks for playing along 😀

  11. Thanks so much for continuing the story so that we know the Herons are ok.

  12. A shocking example of the damage we are causing to our world. Your story and images will hopefully have an impact on people who hadn’t realise dates seriousness of the situation

  13. I am glad the Herons survived, Good on you for caring 🙂

  14. Wow, what an informative post! I am glad the plastic bag was retrieved!

  15. Thanks for sharing this story and am so glad there was a happy ending. Also, thanks for retrieving the trash. We often find trash/plastics floating in the backwaters of the Mississippi River and do our best to bring back what we can in our kayaks. It is such a shame!

  1. Pingback: Symmetry – Travel with Intent

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