Happy Ending to Beautiful Great Blue Heron Rescue

Great blue heron fishing near the reeds and pickerel weed.

Great Blue Heron fishing near the reeds and pickerel weed – babsjeheron

The flames licked higher and higher up the utility pole and by then, the van was fully engulfed. Would the boathouse go up in flames, too?

Young Osprey perched amid pinecones.

Young Osprey perched amid pinecones – babsjeheron

When the fire alarm sounds grew ominously closer, I was photographing an immature osprey nestled high up amongst the pinecone clusters just down the channel and around the bend from the boathouse. 

Quickly, I stashed the camera below deck and paddled rapidly back to the dock. Judging from the black billowing smoke, it seemed possible that the boathouse was the scene of the fire, and I was concerned for the dockhands there. 

I arrived at the dock and discovered a van engulfed in flames just at the moment the driver escaped through the back door. The sirens from the fire trucks were getting louder as they grew closer, but the firemen weren’t yet on the scene. 


  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com) Van fully engulfed in flames on road next to boathouse on Columbus Day weekend.

Van fully engulfed in flames on the road next to the boathouse – babsjeheron

A speeding motorboat swerved in alongside me and the driver launched himself over the bow and hit the water running like a military commando, dashing toward the vehicle, taking charge of the scene. It was a striking action scene like something from a film.

The firemen soon arrived and doused the flames in the van and the utility pole, and Alex and Jason had the boathouse under control – the electrical system was toast due to the burned utility lines, but no fire damage otherwise.

It was the last day of the season for the boathouse that year, and so I slipped back down the channel for a final circuit of the lake, a final good bye to the Great Blue Herons for the season – always a poignant afternoon for me.

Fast forward nearly a year. New England was experiencing one of its blistering July heat waves, so hot I took a taxi to the lake rather than walking there with all my gear. 

The cab driver and I got to talking as people are sometimes wont to do in taxis, and he started to tell me about his bass fishing tournaments and then about the time he was at the lake and there was a fire.

Great blue heron lands a large fish.

Great Blue Heron lands a large fish – babsjeheron

I took a closer look at his cab photo then and realized that he was the speedboat commando who had pulled alongside me the day of the fire. Just to be sure, I asked him to describe his boat, and it was the exact boat I had seen that October day, and he confirmed that he had indeed dashed out of the boat to assist in the rescue. As it turns out, he was a retired police officer, so that sort of action in the face of a fire was ingrained by his training and experience.

We marveled a bit at the coincidence of having witnessed the fire together that day, and I mentioned that I had spent the rest of my time there that day photographing and saying goodbye to the Herons for the year.

And what the taxi driver told me next made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

After I had gone in for the day, and after he was done assisting with the fire, he went back out fishing on the lake, and headed into the small cove between the two tunnels. There are a couple of semi-submerged pines laying on the surface, where there is often good fishing.

Great blue heron fishing with a feather as bait.

Great Blue Heron shaking a Seagull feather. She is standing on the same partly-submerged pine log where she had been tangled in fishing line – babsjeheron

That day, however, he came across a Great Blue Heron caught in fishing line on one of the pine logs. The line was caught in the Heron’s wing and foot, and the Heron was struggling and obviously very weakened by the time he got there.

The taxi driver idled his boat, and pulled up as near to the Heron on the pine as possible, and got out of the boat. He cut the tangled line, freeing the Heron, but the heron was too weak to take off, it was too weak to even lift its head.

He then picked up the Heron, and took it to the shore. He laid it down on the ground and cradled it, placing its head and neck in a good position so it could breathe easier.

He stayed with the Heron as long as he could, but had to leave before the boat ramp access closed for the day.

The next day, he went back to check on the Heron.

It was gone, not on the ground where he had placed it.

He went about his fishing for a while.

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron preening two years after her rescue – babsjeheron

At one point – I don’t remember how long he had been out by then – a Great Blue Heron flew low and slow right across his bow, nearly touching his shoulder.

They don’t do that, you know.

The driver was convinced it was the Heron’s way of acknowledging him, thanking him.

And I agree.
In the taxi the following July as the driver told me his tale, he showed me the photos he had taken with his cell phone of the Heron, while she was entangled on the pine log and then on the shore.

If I had them, I’d share them here. Since I don’t, I’ve posted four of my own photos here of the same Great Blue Heron he saved that day.

What a magnificent creature she is.

And what a hero he is.


Thanks to Cee for her FOTD: Flower of the Day Challenge. The flowers blooming in the top photo are Pickerel Weed. Canada Geese at the lake seem to find them very tasty. I like the color combination of lavender flowers and the green heart-shaped leaves.

The amazing Lens Artists Tina, Patti, Amy, and Leya are still taking a much-deserved and much-needed break for the month of July. This week’s challenge focuses on the topic Getting Away. Rusha Sams from her blog Oh the Places We See is the host this week. Getting away to the lake is always a good use of time. Some days like the day of the fife are more eventful than others.

Check out Rusha’s beautiful Getting Away photos here: Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 157: Getting Away .

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.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2021 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick

Posted on July 20, 2021, in # Lens-Artists, ardea herodias, Birds, Great Blue Heron, Nature Photography, Photo Essay, Photography, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. Great story of a double rescue that day!

  2. A joy to read this true-life tale!

  3. Babsje, you know a place so well you know its stories. Thank you for sharing them with us who live in other places.

  4. What a fabulous narrative made even more poignant with the coincidental meeting with the cab driver! Thanks, too, for sharing your concern for the herons and the actions that many humans take to save them, even though they don’t have to. We do live in a loving world even though we don’t always say we do. I love your stories, the photos, and the whole of this experience. Thanks so much for contributing!

    • Hi Rusha. I’m glad you like this one and appreciate your very thoughtful comments! I agree with you 100%. Thanks also for hosting this week – your travel photos are outstanding. Best, Babsje

  5. A story that could be made into a movie Babsje! How amazing! When It rains it pours!
    That guy deserves one of your pictures!

  6. This is a happy ending

  7. What an amazing story Babsje, it seems you were meant to meet this kind and helpful and man again and hear about the heron 💚

    • Thanks. I think you’re right about that. Truly an unexpected connection happened: Heron, Rescuer and photographer. Grateful at his heroism, which made the happy ending possible. Many thanks for your comment. Best, Babsje

  8. What an amazing story! A big Thank to the taxi driver for rescuing the the heron. So moving to know the heron flew back to thank him. Thank you for sharing the story, Babsje!

    • H\ Amy. I’m happy that the taxi driver”s story resonated for you. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. We came so close to losing that Heron that day. And the only reason she survived was because of the kindness and compassion of the driver towards her. Best, Babsje

    • Hi John. That’s a high compliment, thank you! So glad you like this story. How many other fishermen would have been as heroic if they had stumbled across that Great Blue? Best, Babsje

  9. What an amazing encounter! Wonderful to hear of this hero who appears as needed! 😉

    • Thanks so much! Yes he saved the day and seemed to spring into action instinctively, without a second thought. Glad you like this story. Best, Babsje

  10. Amazing story Babsje, and I agree the heron was definitely thanking its rescuer – they definitely DONT do that!

    • Hi Tina. Thanks for saying that! I’m pleased that you like this story. I still get goosebumps thinking of that moment when the Heron did her fly-by thank you to the taxi hero. Best, Babsje

  11. Great story! So glad he could save the heron.

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