Great Blue Heron’s Guest…Swimming Deer?

© Babsje (

White Tail Deer Swimming – babsjeheron

The subtle shift in the tilt of the Great Blue Heron’s head alerted me to an unseen presence.

Great blue heron watching deer across the cove.

Great Blue Heron peering across the cove – babsjeheron

The Great Blue Heron perched, stationary and gazing off to the east under half-closed eyes, and I sensed that she was going to go to sleep standing there.

It was mid-morning, her early fishing and feeding done. The log next to the blooming pickerel weed made a quiet resting place.

She was unmoving, serene, a study in tranquility, and those qualities were once again contagious – I felt the peacefulness of the space we share, as I always do in the presence of Herons.

Deer viewed through leaves of blind.

Looking through leaves of my natural cover hide/blind – babsjeheron

Half an hour elapsed when a shift in the tilt of her head signaled that she was alert and watching something on the opposite shore. Lulled into a sense of complacency, I thought that it was probably just the Irish Setter I had noticed ambling along when I paddled into the cove that morning.

The Heron stiffened upright suddenly, as though coiled for action. Something, intuition perhaps, told me it wasn’t an Irish Setter at all. Maybe the Fox I’d photographed there a few years earlier was back!

Deer along the banks of the cove, directly across from the great blue heron.

Deer along the banks of the cove, directly across from the Great Blue Heron – babsjeheron

Holding my breath, I stared through the lens directly into the eyes of – not an Irish Setter nor a Fox – a large, mature Deer, a first-ever Deer sighting in the cove.

For forty-five minutes, the three of us shared the lower cove. The Deer watched the Heron during breaks in munching tender leafy bushes, but didn’t seem aware of me. The Heron also didn’t pay any attention to me, but watched the Deer intently, at one point flying about ten feet for a closer look.

And me? I watched both Deer and Heron with my heart on my sleeve.

Time stood still as I put the camera down and peered through my higher-magnification binoculars. I soaked in those enormous soulful eyes, the tickly-looking whiskers, and the adorable ears that seemed to swivel with their own sense of direction, the better to hear us with as the children’s fable says.
The encounter ended as all such wildlife-human encounters should end, utterly without drama: nobody spooked or flushed anybody.

The Deer finished munching greens, turned and sauntered softly back into the woods.

The Great Blue Heron stared after the Deer for a long while, and then once again took up her perch on the log.

And I, still wordless from the wonder of what had just unfolded, paddled on to the next lake, smiling all the way.

Fast forward ten months

Silent as a whisper, the Deer
Poem by Babsje

What of last summer’s Doe
Who watched from the shore
The Heron preening,
Ears attuned for movement,
Then ambled off into the ferns?

That was long ago –
Before that bad winter
Took so much.

She bowed to nibble
Columbine and hosta
On the far shore.

And swam home.

In less than a minute
Water sluiced from her shoulders
Her heavy udders,
Then she was gone
Silent as a whisper


© Babsje (

A glimpse through trees – could it be the White-tailed Deer? – babsjeheron

© Babsje (

White Tail Deer Entering the Water Alongside the Dock – babsjeheron

© Babsje (


© Babsje (

White Tail Deer Swimming – babsjeheron

White Tail Deer Approaching the Shore - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (

White Tail Deer Approaching the Shore – babsjeheron

White Tail Deer Climbing out of Water - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (

White Tail Deer Climbing out of Water – babsjeheron

© Babsje (

.White Tail Deer Vanishing into the Woods – babsjeheron

Fast forward four more months.

White Tail Deer Doe with Fawn - babsjeheron © 2014 - 2021 Babsje (

White Tail Deer Doe with Fawn – babsjeheron


Between the first Deer encounter and the second one ten months later, the Polar Vortex had brought devastating, vicious cold.

Seeing a Deer swimming after the killing colds of winter was thrilling.

Viewing the photos on download was heartwarming: the Deer was the same one I had seen one day that previous summer. She had survived that harsh winter, and she had apparently given birth in the interim.

Four months later, the last photo of that Doe with her Fawn, brings great joy.

Great joy.


This post is prompted by Cee Neuner and Debbie Smyth and the creative and inspiring Lens Artists Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya, all of whom encourage the community of photographers and writers. The focus for this week’s LAPC is Going Wide. Here’s the wide shot of the swimming Deer:

© Babsje (

White-Tail Deer swimming, the long view – babsjeheron


Thanks to Cee for her CFFC: Greatest Love of All. The Fawn is the future of the Deer.
.Thanks to Debbie for her Six Word Saturday . This post title has the requisite six words!


From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 165: Going Wide .

From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 165: Going Wide .

From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 165: Going Wide .

From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 165: Going Wide .


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.

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
Natick Town Hall
Five Crows Gallery in Natick
Audubon Sanctuary

Be a fly on the wall! You can CLICK HERE to see the gallery walls with Herons .


Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2021 Babsje. (

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick, White Tailed Deer

Posted on September 18, 2021, in # Lens-Artists, ardea herodias, Birds, Deer, Heron, Mindfulness, Nature, Photo Essay, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 45 Comments.

  1. 😳 what the what! Lol I don’t think I have ever seen a swimming deer. Great capture 🤩

    • Hi Drexel. Great comment with your “what the what” phrasing. 😊 I had never seen a deer swimming before then, myself. After I glimpsed the deer through the trees on the shore and it ambled off i was content to head on down the cove and I was stunned speechless at seeing her slip into the water at the dock. Glad you liked this one. Thanks for the kind words. Best, Babsje

  2. We never know what the day will bring, do we Babsje! Lovely images and a wonderful ending!

    • Many thanks, Tina. You are so right about that – we never know. It was amazing out there on all three days spread over 14 months with that Deer. Best, Babsje

  3. I shared your images with my family 🙂 They loved them.
    “Then she was gone
    Silent as a whisper” – I read this holding my breath.

    So blessed, you, to have witnessed this.
    Thank you for sharing.

  4. Beautiful to see Babsje and you had a front row seat!

  5. What a beautiful series! I’ve never seen swimming deer. Great photo captures! Thank you for sharing!

  6. Absolutely beautiful! What a wonderful experience, and I love your poem – thanks so much for this post!!

  7. A wonderful meeting well captured, Babsje!

  8. It’s not too often you see taking a swim to get to the other side. A lot of wildlife prefers to make a crossing in shallow waters.

    PS – Sent an email too.

    • You’re right, David. Curiously enough, the water level in that long slender cove is deeper than the Deer’s head at the point she crossed but less than 200 yards further east it is so shallow that my kayak has bottomed out and I have had to stand up and pole my way out. I’ve seen the usual suspects swim across – Muskrats, Beavers, Turtles – bit also Squirrels and Snakes. But that Did was a lovely surprise. Best, Babsje

      • Hey, like the GBH gravatar. Elizabeth sent an email.

        • Thanks David! I had a really cool green system-generated avatar for a long time. I took several months off a few years ago and when I came back they had assigned me that awful b&w image. Now that I can finally see well enough, I was able to change it. I was so blind that I could not read the tools in Photoshop and couldn’t manipulate any images before the surgery. (Also thanks for the heads up about an email. I replied to Elizabeth a few minutes ago.)

  9. You have great patience Babsje! Beautiful post; well written and photographed.

  10. This was so special. And my heart on my sleeve as well. One of those once in a lifetime moments that you just had to wait for. Glad you had your camera so we could be a part of it. I have seen a few babies swept down river, and with this deer water, pretty impressive even for an adult. Donna

    • Hi Donna. I’m so glad you appreciated this story and understand the risks that Deer face around water. I read a story online yesterday about a Doe and Fawn that were in the water off a beach near Vancouver and a motor boat approached them too closely from behind. The Deer got separated and the Doe had to dodge beach goers on the shore. The Doe reunited with the Fawn and it ended well thankfully and my heart was in my throat from the moment I saw the headline. Many thanks for your kind comment. Best, Babsje

  11. Oh, I love the poem you wrote! Just such beautiful images of your encounters with this doe (both in your language and in your photos).

    • Hi Katherine. Thanks so much for your comment and generous compliment. I’m pleased that you like both the poem and the photos. The Deer encounters are etched in my heart and memory. Best, Babsje

  12. beautiful experience and great photography. thanks for sharing 🙂

  13. You documented this moment so beautifully, Babsje! The poem and images remind me of the swift and silent appearance of animals in the “wild”–which startle us and remind us who was here first on earth! A humbling experience and awe-inspiring, too! Lovely post.

  14. The swimming Deer is wonderful

    • Many thanks! I’m happy that you like the swimming Deer. It was exciting to see her swim across the cover and then later to see her with her young Fawn. Best, Babsje

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