Beautiful Great Blue Heron and an Unusual Boat Garden

© Babsje (

Great Blue Heron Fledgling in Territorial Display at Sunken Boat – babsjeheron

Sometimes no matter how well a photographer plans, the wildlife model has others ideas, and this was one of those times.

Totally unaware of the fledgling great blue heron beside the boat garden stalking him with increasing speed and determination, the yearling heron plied the shoreline. Perhaps it was his curiosity about the fire pit on the lake-front beach that led him to put his guard down?

One of my favorite locations for photographing herons is this partly-sunken boat “garden.” Every year, the property owners plant a different crop and it is a delight in late spring or early summer to see what is growing. One year the boat contained tubs of cherry tomatoes that looked delectable when fully ripe, the bright red of the fruit promising sweetness. In other years, the focus is flowers, like the gladiolus here.

Whenever I paddle to that area of the lake to see how that garden is doing, I try for heron photos with the boat garden. Photographing them there is tricky because the angle of the sun is good for only a short while each day: it’s in the shadows in the morning and for much of the afternoon the light is too harsh. Even when the light is good, of course there’s no guarantee that there will be any herons around.

That day, I was in luck – a yearling great blue heron foraged along the shore to the north of the boat garden. Most great blues follow a consistent direction when fishing along the shore. Just like “mall walkers” who get their exercise by walking a circuit around a mall before the shops open, herons generally pick a direction and follow that direction. That day, it was looking good because the yearling was heading down the shore in the direction of the boat garden – a photo op in the making!

But sometimes no matter how well a photographer plans, the wildlife model has others ideas, and this was one of those times. The yearling heron lazily worked his way up to the boat and just when I was ready for shots of the heron moving along in front of the boat, it ducked behind the stern, instead, and proceeded south, obscured by the towering gladiolus in the boat!

Anticipating that the yearling would eventually emerge from behind the boat garden, I shifted my focus towards the south and waited for the heron to catch up.

Suddenly, I heard a slight rustle overhead. I looked up and saw a fledgling great blue heron perching on a limb directly over the beach where the other heron was curiously investigating the fire pit.

The fledgling swooped out of the canopy and landed just to the north of the boat garden and suddenly took on a territorial posture. This was the first time I had seen a fledgling put a genuine territorial display to use against an older, larger heron.

With his back feathers erect, the fledgling strutted down the shore towards the yearling, who was engrossed with the fire pit. A few moments after the photo shown above, though, the older heron caught sight of the aggressive fledgling bearing down on him and burst from the sand out over the water, heading southwest.

The fledgling, having proved his mettle and securing both the beach and his status as an alpha bird, relaxed his pose and spent several minutes exploring the boat garden before eventually flying off to the north.

What a thrilling experience to see a very young great blue heron assert dominance over an older and larger heron.


The fabulous Lens Artists – Patti, Tina, Amy, and Leya – focus on Gardens this week. Sincerely, I don’t know how they consistently produce such in-depth posts week-in-and-week-out and the same goes for Cee’s many challenges: I especially appreciate Cee’s “Hunt for Joy” theme.

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 147: Gardens .
From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 147: Gardens .
From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 147: Gardens .
From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 147: Gardens .

And thanks to Cee for her Hunt for joy.

From December 4 through January 28, 2020, my Great Blue Heron photographs were 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.

Many of the photos in the exhibit were 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.

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™

© 2003-2021 Babsje. (

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick

Posted on May 11, 2021, in Art, daily prompt, Fun with Herons, Great Blue Heron, Humor, Nature, postaday, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. Terrific “catch” Babsje! I can truly sense your excitement as you watched the drama unfold, and your image is really beautiful. A prefect response to the week’s challenge!

    • Many thanks, Tina. It was definitely dramatic in that moment. And I’m eager to see what that boat garden will hold this year. Thanks to you and the Lens Artists for keeping us all engaged. Best, Babsje

  2. A very beautiful image. I love the composition and the color mix of this capture. The heron seems happy there. 🙂

    • Hi Amy. Thanks so much for your kind comment. I’m glad you noticed that the Heron is happy there. It’s a lovely tranquil spot and I was pleased that the water was calm enough to capture the reflection of the boat’s colors so clearly. Best, Babsje

  3. Beautiful Babsje. I love your description of the birds’ behavior.

    • Hi Patti. Many thanks and I’m glad you appreciated this one. I was very surprised by how aggressive the fledgling was – as was that yearling I’m sure. Thanks to you and the Lens Artists for the interesting challenges and your own photos of the trolls at the Botanic Gardens were engaging. Best, Babsje

  4. All your heron photos are lovely. I’m curious about that boat though. It appears to be painted in NYS Canals colors of blue and yellow.

    • Thanks for your kind words about the Heron photos. And about the colors od that semi-submerged boat? Maybe the property owners were/are from NY? It has been repainted over the years I have been seeing it – I imagine that’s done when the water level lowers. It’s a freshwater lake but connects to the city and they do manually adjust the water level – especially after big storms. After Hurricane Irene some years back they adjusted it so much that a big river current developed and none of us kayakers could navigate the tunnel against the rapid current. Best, Babsje P.S. your own tugboat posts are fascinating.

  5. Love these perfect time and place opportunities and your patience in capturing it!

    • Hi Gunta. Thanks so much and good to hear from you again. I tried to find your blog earlier today but couldn’t – did you move it? And you’re right about those being 8n the right place at the right time with a camera moments. Bes, Babsjet

      • No, I haven’t moved it, but I did get a custom url: (though the old one should redirect, but oh well!)

        • Great thanks good to know. My eyesight isn’t so good right now and I probably typed it wrong. My bad. Best, Babsje

          • You have my heartfelt sympathy about eye problems. I am more than a year overdue to have cataract surgery. My eyesight is getting pretty bad, too. 😟

            • Thanks so much for your empathy. I’m genuinely sorry to hear of your eye issues. I’ve heard that cataract surgery can do wonders. Your photography is excellent and I know it’s an important part of your world, so maybe you can get that relief soon. As for me, I lost vision in one eye from a detached retina and hemorrhage. The retina surgery made a big improvement – before it, I couldn’t see anything and afterwards my sight was 20/400 which was a big improvement but an expected side effect of that surgery is cataracts. I’m scheduled for early July. You and I can compare notes? 😊

  6. I just need to get my act together to call and make an appointment. I’ve rather enjoyed not having all sorts of appointments, which (thankfully) turned out not to be a necessity. Maybe I’ll do it tomorrow! (Now that we’re fully vaccinated!)
    I wonder if I may not have developed Agarophobia??? 🤔
    I do hope your surgery goes well! It’s obvious how important your vision is also!

    • My surgeon said she is really backlogged with 8 weeks lead time because so many people had put off any elective procedures during the height of the pandemic but now that the vax is available she said that everybody wants their “eyes fixed yesterday.” They were only doing emergency surgery until now. I can understand that sense of agoraphobia you mention – it was a cozy and safe feeling (at times) to stay home but I so miss getting out with a camera. Good luck with setting up your appointment and “movin’ on” (as your blog title says) into the next chapter of your visual life! We’ll compare notes this summer. 😊

      • Thanks to the nudge you provided, I have made my appointment (end of June!) Not quite 8 week backlog, but close! I bet the same is happening all over the country! Hope this summer slowdown continues so we can get caught up on things like these eye problems, not to mention teeth and all the other things that start popping up as the years pile up!
        Good luck to you as well.

        • You go girl! So glad you made that appointment, well done. Please report back and let me know how you’re doing and what your vision is like afterwards. I read a book about Monet the painter that mentioned how his use of color in his paintings changed after his surgery. Others have reported similar changes in color perception. Take care. Best, Babsje

  7. Great picture!
    Thanks for sharing
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  8. Great photos, great story.

  9. You had ring side seats for the fight! That youngster is going to bit off more then it can handle sooner or later!
    Your a natural story teller babsje!

  10. Lovely capture and story, Babsje. A treat!

    • Many thanks, Leya. Your own garden post is stunning. I will update your link in this post of mine with your correct link. I was out of synch again with your posting! 😊 Best, Babsje

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