Beautiful Great Blue Heron at an Exhibition (Quirky Artist Stories Nbr 19)

Great blue heron in the cove, foraging.

Great Blue Heron foraging amongst water lilies in the cove – babsjeheron.

Plop – bird poo splatted on my shoulder!”


My first paying photography gig was hanging a Diane Arbus exhibit, for minimum wage. I was at university taking a course in graphic design then, and I was thrilled by the exposure to her work first-hand. The job was a nail-biter though and my boss Leo sternly exhorted us “Whatever you do, don’t cut yourself!” All of the photographs were originals, not reproductions. They were mounted in floating glass frames, the kind with only glass, no wood or metal around the borders. The glass edges were not beveled and were extremely sharp – there was a high risk of getting cut and bleeding on the art that could have ruined her work. It was intense but so rewarding, and no blood was shed that show.

Fast forward to a few years ago. The photo in this post was one of the cornerstone pieces in a one-woman show I had. As you can see, there’s no evidence of Arbus’ influence in that photo.


The day of my artist reception, I spent some time sitting outside on a bench before going inside to meet & greet gallery visitors. I sat there under the trees, composing myself and enjoying the dappled sunlight when i felt it.


A present from an overhead bird landed on my shoulder, anointing me with sacred bird poo, an ironic baptism for a bird photographer.

I think Arbus would have appreciated the irony.

(There are those who consider getting pooped on by a bird to be good luck…)
Fast forward again a few more years…

The southwest staircase wall was empty – a blank white space stared at me starkly from the landing between floors. The framed great blue heron was gone!
Shades of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist

Someone had been in the house, but who?

Time for Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to get on the case of the purloined photo.

Had a burglar made off with the heron?

Was anything else missing?

Was he still in the house?

Was it safe for me to be there alone?

My sensitive radar for danger didn’t kick in this one time – I didn’t “sense” anyone lurking about in the broad daylight. The 19th century wood floors gave no telltale creaks of footfalls, and, most significantly, the dog snored loudly on his cushion.

I roused the dog and gingerly we checked all the rooms, upstairs and downstairs – looking behind doors, peering into closets and even behind the shower curtain.

Whomever it was, was gone.

A relief.

And a mystery: nothing else seemed to have been disturbed, nothing else missing. Just that one great blue heron photo.

It is a good photograph – one of my favorite painterly photos, one I’m proud of, and definitely “art.”

But definitely not great art.

Yet it was missing,

Had someone thought it valuable enough to steal?

How much self-flattery would it take for me to believe that someone entered my home and stole a photograph, yet left behind anything else of value? A lot. I would really have to be flattering myself a lot to believe that.

And yet the great blue heron was missing, and remained missing.


Until I opened the built-in pantry cupboard two days later, and found the missing photograph. The glass had been partly shattered and the frame dinged a bit, but the print, itself, was undamaged.

A relief.

And another mystery: who hid the heron photograph in my pantry, and why?

The mystery became amusing, and I had a bit of fun imagining scenarios once I realized that the heron hadn’t been purloined.

My landlord’s son solved the mystery a few days later: he had accidentally bumped into the framed print on the staircase wall while taking something up to the attic. The painting fell and he hid it in the pantry. His plan was to get a new pane of glass and replace the photo before I noticed it missing. What a sweet, thoughtful young man.

And what fun entertaining the thought – if only for the fleetingest of moments – that someone might have liked this photo enough to take it for themselves.



This week’s Lens Artist challenge from Tina, with Patti, Amy, and Leya, focuses on on the.colors blue and green. Did you know that although Ardea herodias is known as the Great Blue Heron, it’s feathers are not actually blue at all? Have a look at the masthead art at the top of this page of my blog. That is a photo I took of an aigrette feather from a great blue heron. There is nothing blue about it. The secret that makes feathers appear blue to the human eye is the result of refraction. It is the play of light on the structure of the feather that allows our eyes to perceive blue.

Check out the Lens Artists’ Blue and Green photos here:

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 149: Cool Colors – Blue and Green .
From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 149: Cool Colors – Blue and Green .
From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 149: Cool Colors – Blue and Green .
From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 149: Cool Colors – Blue and Green .

Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and they need your love.

My brick & mortar presence in Massachusetts dates back to 2009 in several local venues/galleries.

2015 (May), 2016 (March and July), 2018 (May, June, July), 2019 (December), 2020 (January) several one-woman photography shows at TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary

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.

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 23, 2021, in # Lens-Artists, Art, Fun with Herons, Great Blue Heron, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Kayaking, Nature, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. Colors, each of us perceive the shade of color differently, often occurring at the green-blue-violet end of the spectrum. There’s a biological explanation, but it gets in the weeds into how our eyes work and how our brain interprets the “signals.”

    Your floating glass frame reminds me of the new product (kinda new) being promoted, I think it’s called Fracture. It is where an image is directly “printed” onto glass. The edges are nicely rounded, so no cuts when handled.

  2. Not 1 but 3 interesting stories to go with you beautiful heron today Babsje! Loved the Arbus story – can just imagine the tension that went with the thrill of handling her images. Then the “plop” – I did have to laugh at that. Happened to me once on my way to work before boarding the train – UGH! Let’s just say the ride to work seemed exceptionally long that day! Then the purloined image – terrific. So glad you shared the answer without leaving us hanging (ha ha, get it?!) thanks for the fun response to the challenge this week and for sharing your beautiful heron.

    • Hi Tina. About your fun ride to work wearing that fetching bird poo accessory: some people say it is like winning the lottery if a bird poops on you. Bet you didn’t feel like a lottery winner at all. Glad you liked this post l. Thanks for the kind comment. Best, Babsje

  3. Beautifully captured!

  4. Love that angle for the bird and nice story

  5. The image is so beautiful (as usual), but I thoroughly enjoyed the vignettes that went with it! The good luck of bird poo… and the jitters of sharp glass edges… and to top it all – the mystery of the heron gone missing! This was certainly a fun post and I can see someone wanting to steal it! 🥰

    • Hi Gunta. I’m so pleased that you enjoyed this one and found it a fun read. Being announced by bird poop definitely set the mood that day. And the mysterious disappeared photo had me baffled for a few days. How funny. Thanks for your great comment. Best, Babsje

  6. I like that photo, that band of dark works really well. And I enjoyed the three stories that you told with it. What a wonderful first gig, specially

    • Thank you, I’m glad you noticed that dark shady area in the background between the green leaves and the Heron in the foreground. It’s a nice spot in the cove. Thanks for your kind words. Best, Babsje

  7. What a gorgeous color, Babsje! I’m glad the mystery was solved, too!

  8. What a fun post Babsje. Enjoyed seeing your great heron images and loved your stories!!

  9. Loved your story as well!

  10. Ces hérons sont des héros magnifiques, merci de nous les faire découvrir

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