Great Blue Herons Abundant Nests (Not Art Nbr 29)

© Babsje (

Great Blue Heron flying from the nesting island across the channel to gather twigs – babsjeheron

With upwards of fifty Great Blue Heron nests, this island is absolutely ripe with new beginnings, with the seeds of new life.

© Babsje (

Six Great Blue Heron nests on the island. The flying Heron in the top photo here is the same Heron flying up to it’s mate in this photo – babsjeheron Click here to see a panorama showing thirty-two occupied nests.

[Note: Ordinarily, I feel that if I need to use yellow circles to point out features in a photo, I’m on a slippery slope and probably shouldn’t publish them, but it was an extraordinary experience to see such abundant Great Blue Heron nesting (and mating) taking place on the island, so I’ve made an exception.]

I stood along the shoreline, binoculars trained on the island, trying to count nests and Great Blue Herons. The island is a good distance from shore and even at a healthy magnification through the binocs, that is a challenge. It occurred to me it would be easier to take a series of photos and stitch them together and count the nests and birds that way.

Sweeping the camera from West to East the length of the island for the panorama, I had zoomed in on a nest with a Heron that was closest to me, and suddenly out of the corner of my eye realized that a second Heron was making a beeline across the channel, flying fairly low across the waters towards me.

I started firing off frames – with little time for re-focusing – and at the last moment, only a couple of yards from shore and me, the Heron shown in the top photo in this post arced sharply upwards into the stand of tall pines along the shore to my right.

The pine bough shook and bounced and then quivered under the bird’s weight, and then the Heron poked up its head and looked straight at me.

© Babsje (

Great Blue Heron bouncing after landing in the pines, then turning to look at me – babsjeheron

The Great Blue Heron climbed higher into the pine, in and out of view, and then – just as suddenly as it had arrived – it took off back to the island.

I watched it course across the lake and then up, up to the top of the trees there, landing at the nest.

I watched some more through the binocs, and the Heron once again made a beeline for me, only to soar into the nearby pines once again at the last minute. I watched the boughs bounce and the Heron clamber about in the tree for five to ten minutes before it returned to the nest across the waters.

This odd behavior repeated itself several more times before I was able to get a proper focus on the Heron as it was about to leave the pine on my shore and return to the nest. This time I saw it: the Heron had a long twig dangling from its bill as it swooped down from the pine.

© Babsje (

Great Blue Heron leaves the pine tree carrying a twig for the nest across the channel – babsjeheron

It was building a nest, gathering its lumber from off-island. Until that day, I had never before seen nest building in person, how exciting that was.

I then focused the binocs back on the nest to better watch the Heron weaving the twigs into the nest and it was then that I noticed: not one, but two Great Blue Herons in the nest. Two adults. Two adults building their nest together. Thrilling to watch.

After a while, they celebrated the day’s nest building efforts with full-on mating – more thrilling, an incredible sight even from the distant shore.

I took more than 500 photos that day. The island is far from shore and totally inaccessible to man: boating is prohibited and there are no access roads. There isn’t much detail in many of the photos here, and they are not art, but I wanted to share that experience with you. Readers of this blog know I’m both fine art photographer and nature photographer, and the only “fine art” in today’s post is that of the Great Blue Herons, themselves, building their nests. There is no doubt that buildibg large sturdy nests is an art, nests that are capable of keeping eggs and chicks safe in our often wild New England weather.

I am enamored of that Great Blue Heron, his industriousness in foraging for twigs and taking them back to his mate in the nest. That Heron had come to know me from my frequent walks along the shoreline there. I’m humbled that he accepted my presence that day of nest building and mating.

Click here to see a panorama showing thirty-two occupied nests.

Thanks to Cee for her CMMC Challenge: July. I chose trees and green as the topic from her photo. Green pine trees are abundant and blanket the nesting island and shoreline across the channel.

Thanks to Debbie for her One Word Sunday: Count.

The always-inspiring 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 Along Back Country Roads. Beth Smith from her blog Wandering Dawgs is the host this week. This memorable encounter with the Great Blue Heron gathering twigs for the nest took place during a walk along a road near my home.

Thanks to Beth for her Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 158: Along Back Country Roads . This Great Blue Heron encounter took place during a walk along a road near my home.

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. (

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick

Posted on July 25, 2021, in # Lens-Artists, ardea herodias, Birds, Great Blue Heron, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.

  1. So very marvellous in flight, Babsje.

  2. Wonderful capture of the heron in flight.
    It’s as if he was letting you know he was in charge of his environment. I can feel his movements in your photograph. Nicely done …
    Isadora 😎

  3. That day was certainly a spine-tingling experience for you, thank you for sharing it with us. Earlier this year I also witnessed a Great Blue Heron pair building a nest. I was awestruck, and watched from my kayak for quite some time.

    • Hi Sarah. Thanks for your kind comment. Great that you also were able to see Herons building their nest. It’s an awesome thing to behold! Best, Babsje

  4. Thank you for these wonderful Heron images! You had an amazing day watching the pair building a nest and finding so many nests in a single tree.

    • You’re welcome Beth and thanks for your comment. Yes it was a wonderful day. I took more than 500 photos. Thank goodness for digital cameras. That would not have been possible back in the days of film! Best, Babsje

  5. So they were all building nests! That’s a lot of building with so many Herons! I can just hear the cacophony of sawing and hammering now!

  6. We used to live not too far from a rookery in Illinois and it was such a joy to see everything going on there. I enjoyed your photos and narration. Photos don’t have to be works of art to be worth sharing and talking about.


  7. Hi Babsje,
    great birds, really. Thanks for these pictures and the info. It’s very much appreciated.
    All the best
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  8. Beautiful. Quite the wingspan!

    • Thanks very much John. Those wings are huge aren’t they? Difficult to tell that a tiny tiny Hummingbird is the same species as a Heron or Eagle or Condor because of the size difference. Glad you like this one. Best, Babsje

  9. We saw a heron! In the penguin exhibit at the zoo today. My son asked if it was fake because it looked so out of place there, but it was not fake. Not at all.

    • How delightful! Who says birds of a feather flock together? Apparently Herons didn’t read that memo. Good observation by your son. Best, Babsje

  10. Your post was so interesting! And of course, informative. Just loved these shots. Herons are so majestic. Wish I could see them in person on day!

  11. Great photos! I sometimes try to photograph birds in flight and it isn’t easy…

    • Hi Margaret many thanks for your kind compliment. And you’re right – birds in flight are tricky. They move so quickly and depth of field is difficult if they have a large wingspan, with one wing closer to the camera than the other and keeping it all in focus, too. Thanks for visiting and commenting. Best. Babsje

  12. I’m so happy I came across this post! The Great Blue Heron is a favourite bird of mine. I managed to get within ten feet or so of one on a fishing trip a’ few years back and snapped a photo. Maybe I got too close! It stretched out – over 4 feet tall – so I backed away slowly. I painted the picture with it’s reflection in the water later and recently posted it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi. I’m happy that you saw that Great Blue and you’re right – ten feet was probably a little too close, but live and learn. Thanks for your kind comment..happy that you appreciate the Herons. Best, Babsje

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