Epic Great Blue Heron Rescue Redux
If i could talk to the animals – just imagine it,
speaking with a Chimp in chimpanzee!
Imagine talking to a Tiger, or chatting with a Cheetah –
what a neat achievement that would be!
If i could talk to the animals, learn their languages –
maybe take an animal degree…
I’d study Elephant and Eagle, Buffalo and Beagle,
Alligator, Guinea Pig and Flea!
[first bridge] I would converse in Polar Bear and Python,
and I would curse in fluent Kangaroo.
If people asked me, “can you speak Rhinoceros?”
I’d say, “of course-eros!
Raise your hand if you talk to the animals.
Now raise your other hand if the animals talk to you.
You over there – put your other hand up, too. You and you, too.
Animals communicate with humans in many ways, some oral and others non-verbal.
Who doesn’t know what a dog’s growl portends? Or the sweet purring of a tabby cat? Frequent readers of this blog may recall my stories of Great Blue Herons’ greetings: arrrh and goooh, and their guttural frawhnk of alarm.
And as for the non-verbal, animal body language can be very telling. What is a cat saying with ears flattened back and tail swishing from side to side? Or a dog wagging its tail so enthusiastically that its entire rump is wagging, too? Readers of earlier posts here may recall learning that a Heron standing in a ramrod-straight posture, with neck fully extended and head held high, is a Heron on high alert.
Today’s post is the true story of an heroic Great Blue Heron rescue capped off by the Heron communicating with her rescuer, saying “thank you” in an unmistakable way.
When I posted about the rescue earlier this year, Wayne of Tofino Photography suggested that I send the hero a photo of the beautiful rescued Great Blue Heron.
That was easier said than done – I had met him only once years ago in a taxi and didn’t know his name or how to reach him. All I knew was that he was an avid Bass-fishing aficionado, a retired police officer, and part time taxi driver in town.
This was shaping up to be a needle in a haystack quest.
I took a chance and reached out to the owner of the taxi company. A few weeks went by before she called me back, curious about the story. I explained about the heroic rescue and that I wanted to thank him. A couple more weeks went by before I heard back – she found him by going back more than ten years in the records. She said she spoke with him and he remembered that day very clearly.
Fast forward many more weeks until this past Sunday morning, when my phone rang. It was a call from the fisherman hero. His name is Dennis.
We had a lovely, warm chat. It warmed my heart to hear Dennis retell his experience: the day after the Heron rescue, he went fishing again in the same cove and discovered that the Heron was gone, she wasn’t on the shore where he had placed her the day before.
And then a Great Blue Heron flew low and slow right across his bow, nearly touching his shoulder. Dennis told me he was convinced it was the Heron’s way of acknowledging him, thanking him. And I agree.
Hearing Dennis tell his story again brought tears to my eyes.
I want to again thank Dennis for rescuing my favorite Heron from certain death. How many other boaters on the water would bother with an entangled bird I wonder?
I want to thank the excellent wildlife photographer and videographer Wayne for encouraging me to find and thank fisherman hero Dennis. Please visit Tofino Photography to see outstanding photos of Eagles, Bears, Orcas and more.
And I want to thank Joanne of Tommy’s Taxi for caring enough about the story I had told to dig through ten years of records to find, and connect me with, Dennis, the hero of the tale below. How many busy company owners would take the time to do that kind of research?
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.
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.
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 Dennis 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.
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.
Dennis 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.
Dennis 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.
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.
Dennis was convinced it was the Heron’s way of acknowledging him, thanking him.
And I agree.
In the taxi the following July as Dennis 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 Dennis is.
Cee Neuner and the creative and inspiring Lens Artists Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya all encourage the community of photographers and writers. Please click the links below to see the beautiful offerings from these wonderful photographers.
The focus for this week’s Lens Artist challenge hosted by guest host Lindy is “Follow Your Bliss.” Frequent readers here should have little doubt that the Great Blue Herons bring me bliss
Thanks to Cee for her Hunt for joy. I don’t know if this challenge is still on, but I really like the idea of searching for joy. This Heron has brought great joy.
From guest host Lindy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 175: Follow Your Bliss .
From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 175: Follow Your Bliss .
From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 175: Follow Your Bliss .
From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 175: Follow Your Bliss.
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 a half and they need your love more than ever.
The Natick Center Cultural District is situated in a friendly, classic New England town hosting a vibrant, contemporary fusion of art, culture and business. Learn more!
My brick & mortar presence in Massachusetts dates back to 2009 in several local venues/galleries.
Please watch this space for news of my upcoming Winter 2022 gallery show.
TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
Natick Town Hall
Five Crows Gallery in Natick
Be a fly on the wall! Please CLICK HERE to see the Great Blue Herons gracing the gallery walls.
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, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick
Posted on November 23, 2021, in # Lens-Artists, ardea herodias, Birds, Fishing, Great Blue Heron, Heron, Inspiration, Nature, Photo Essay, Photography, Wildlife Photography and tagged #fivecrows, CFFC, Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, TCAN. Bookmark the permalink. 68 Comments.