Great Blue Herons Guest…Pink Flamingo?

Great Blue Heron Fledgling in Territorial Display - babsjeheron  © Babsje (

Great blue heron in territorial display by boat garden – babsjeheron

A favorite location for photographing Herons is the sunken boat garden shown in the above photo. Each year, the property owners plant something different. One year the boat contained tubs of cherry tomatoes that looked delectable when fully ripe, the bright red of the fruit promising sweetness. In other years, the focus is flowers, like the gladiolus you see in the top photo.

Every year, it’s a treat to explore that area of the lake to see what has been planted, and to try for Heron photos with the boat garden. Photographing them there is tricky for a couple of reasons. The angle of the sun is good for only a short while each day; it’s in the shadows in the morning and for much of the afternoon the light is too bright and harsh. Even when the light is good, of course there’s no guarantee that there will be any Herons plying that section of the cove.

This square image shows only a smattering of changes to the boat garden that I have photographed over the years, including the variety of flowers and even the paint job to the boat, itself.

Boat Garden Through Years - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (

Boat Garden Through Years – babsjeheron
Top Left – 2009, Top Right – 2011, Middle Left – 2011, Middle Right – 2015, Bottom Left – 2017, Bottom Right – 2018

To the south of the boat garden is an idyllic area of the shoreline: two hammocks suspended out over the water look so inviting on sweltering August afternoons. Next door is a tableau of Adirondack chairs gathered near a fire pit, and I can imagine lounging in a hammock while dinner sizzling nearby teases my senses. While my favorite elements of nature are always the wild and untrammeled ones, this section of the shoreline is a place I’d love to inhabit for an evening or three, lazing in one of the hammocks, with fireflies twinkling around the flowers and the scent of dinner wafting from the grill. And a Great Blue Heron, there would be a Heron there, too.

Great blue heron exploring the shoreline near suspended hammocks - babsjeheron  © Babsje (

Great Blue Heron exploring the shoreline near suspended hammocks – babsjeheron

On this day, I was in luck – there was a yearling Great Blue Heron foraging along the shore to the north of the boat garden. Most Great Blues follow a consistent direction when fishing along the shore. Just like “mall walkers” who get their exercise by walking a circuit around a mall before the shops open, Herons generally pick a direction and follow that direction. That day, it was looking good because the yearling was heading down the shore in the direction of the boat garden.

I settled the kayak into a secluded spot and set up to photograph the Heron when it neared the boat garden. And then I waited.

Sometimes no matter how well a photographer plans, the model has others ideas, and this was one of those times. The Heron lazily worked his way up to the boat and just when I was ready for shots of the Heron moving along in front of the boat, it ducked behind the stern, instead, and proceeded south, obscured by the towering gladiolus in the boat!

All was not lost, I thought to myself, maybe the Heron would do something photogenic by the hammocks or the Adirondack chairs and fire pit while the light was still good. I shifted my focus in that direction and waited for the Heron to catch up. Totally unaware of the fledgling Great Blue Heron beside the boat garden stalking him with increasing speed and determination, the yearling Heron plied the shoreline. Perhaps it was his curiosity about the fire pit on the lake-front beach that led him to put his guard down?

Great Blue Heron yearling investigates a fire pit - babsjeheron  © Babsje (

Great Blue Heron yearling investigates a fire pit – babsjeheron

It was looking promising for some photos with the chairs, and I had started firing off a few when I heard a slight rustle overhead. I looked up and saw a fledgling Great Blue Heron perching on a limb directly over the beach where the other Heron was curiously investigating the fire pit.

The fledgling swooped out of the canopy and landed just to the north of the boat garden and suddenly took on a territorial posture. I have blogged here in the past about fledgling herons in the nest playfully practicng various displays (click here and here) but this was the first time I had seen a fledgling put a genuine territorial display to use against an older, larger Heron in a shoreline situation.

Back feathers erect, such as they were at this point in the fledgling’s development, the fledgling strutted down the shore towards the yearling, who was engrossed with the fire pit. A few moments after the photo shown above, though, the older Heron caught sight of the aggressive fledgling bearing down on him and burst from the sand out over the water, heading southwest.

Fledgling great blue heron taking flight near boat garden - babsjeheron  © Babsje (

Fledgling Great Blue Heron taking flight near boat garden – babsjeheron

The fledgling, having proved his mettle and securing both the beach and his status as an alpha bird, relaxed his pose and spent several minutes exploring the boat garden before eventually flying off to the north.

What a thrilling experience that day, to see a very young Great Blue Heron assert dominance over an older and larger Heron.
And when I take photos like this, I often wonder if the property owners have any idea about the Herons’ visits that make their beautiful stretch of shore even more lovely.

The one very odd boat garden installation over all of the years has no plants, just this solitary Plastic Flamingo.

Plastic Flamingo in Boat Garden - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (

Plastic Flamingo in Boat Garden – babsjeheron

I have sometimes wondered if that Flamingo was intended as a “scarecrow” figure, to keep the Herons away? I hope not.

Once again, the Great Blue Heron diving beneath the water’s surface is gracing gallery walls.

TCAN One-Woman Show January February 2022 Lobby Wall With TCAN Reflection © 2022 Babsje (

TCAN One-Woman Show January February 2022 Lobby Wall With TCAN Sign Reflected; TCAN Stained glass art by Carol Krentzman, framed by Jay Ball

TCAN One-Woman Show January February  2022 Front Lobby Trio © 2022 Babsje (

TCAN One-Woman Show January February 2022 Front Lobby Trio

My Great Blue Heron photographs are 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.

Since 2001, the Center for Arts Natick has been housed in the circa 1875 historic Central Fire House, where the Summer Street Gallery provides an opportunity for accomplished visual artists in the region to have their work prominently displayed for TCAN’s diverse and loyal audience.

The Center for Arts Natick believes the arts are essential to a complete human experience and to the creation of a vibrant, healthy community. TCAN serves the Boston MetroWest region by increasing opportunities to experience, participate in, and learn about the arts. To this end, TCAN strives to present arts programs of the highest standard that are available to everyone. TCAN dedicates its resources to providing community access to diverse arts programs, reducing barriers to attendance, and building appreciation through arts education.

If you’re in the Boston or Metro West area, please stop by to see the Great Blue Herons. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.

The gallery is open whenever the box office is open, so please check hours here.

And who knows, maybe I’ll see you there one day.

I’d like that.


Cee Neuner, Debhie Smyth, Becky B, and the community of Lens Artists encourage the entire international network 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 John is “Change.” This post chronicles many changes to the picturesque sunken boat at the lake.

Thanks to Cee for her FOTD: Flower of the Day. I wish I knew the names of all of the flowers in my photos.

Thanks to Becky for her The Square Odds challenge. Is that Pink Flamingo odd or what?

Thanks to Debbie for her Six Word Saturday. Sometimes Known as Sir Paul’s Cathedral.
From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 185: Change .
From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 185: Change .
From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 185: Change .

From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 185: Change .
From John Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 185: Change .



Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District logo

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. Click here and here to learn more!


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

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick – Current one-woman photography show through February 2022
Natick Town Hall – Current group exhibit thru January 3 2023
Five Crows Gallery in Natick – Represented since 2013
Audubon Sanctuary

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™

© 2003-2023 Babsje. (

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick, Pink Flamingo


Posted on February 12, 2022, in # Lens-Artists, ardea herodias, Art, Birds, Inspiration, Mindfulness, Nature, Photography, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 93 Comments.

  1. Lovely photos. We try capturing the peacocks in our garden too

  2. Ah, great photos of the great one. The pink flamingo brings smiles while guarding that boat! Happy Saturday and weekend, my dear Babsje and wonderful to hear about the gallery!

  3. Dear Babsje,
    what a great idea this boat garden, looks great and even greater with the heron. The pink flamingo is the clou 🙂 We always like your photographs. Thanks for showing us pictures of your little adventures 🙏 🙏
    Wishing you all the best for your exhibition.
    Have a happy weekend xxxx
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Many thanks to all the Fab Four of Cley for your very kind, thoughtful comment. I first noticed that sunken boat garden back in 2007 and have no idea when the first garden was planted there or by whom. It’s a delightful mystery and often the highlight of my day in a kayak on that lake. I have many other photos of Herons near that boat – the water is shallow there and I think good fishing. Thanks also for your wishes for the gallery exhibit – another labor of Heron love. All my best to the Fab Four of Cley. 😊 😊 😊 😊

  4. a very warm welcome to squares, and such a lovely post too 🙂 I agree that boat with the flamingo is odd!

  5. What a fascinating story about the fledgling heron! As usual, your photos are beautiful. I’d love to visit your gallery on display sometime. Thanks for joining in the challenge!

    • Hi John – so glad you enjoyed reading about that fledgling Heron. It was quite an unexpected surprise to see two GBH there. Congrats on your inaugural hosting gig for LAPC – you chose an excellent topic. Best, Babsje

  6. Beautiful images all! And what an interesting and clever idea the boat garden is. Thank you for sharing.

    • Many thanks for visiting and for your kind compliment. I agree that turning the sunken boat into a garden was so clever. And I’m pleased that they have kept it up for so many years. It’s always different from year-to-year. Best, Babsje

  7. Fun story Babsje and some wonderful images of the herons around the boat. A reward for your patience indeed.

    • Hi Tina. I’m so pleased that you enjoyed this fun post. Thanks for your kind words. Looking forward to seeing the 2022 version of the garden. Best, Babsje

  8. Babsje, I really enjoyed reading your post and seeing your wonderful pictures!

  9. you always capture such unique glimpses into a world few venture Babsje!
    Passion and patience are the passport required!

  10. Beautiful flowers. You even have a plastic pink flamingo. 😀 😀

    • Hi Cee. Thanks so much! Too bad I didn’t think of the Pink Flamingo when the challenge for the color pink was going on. Maybe next time? There will be a next time, right? 😊 Best, Babsje

    • Thanks so much for your kind compliment my friend. That spot on the shore is so idyllic, for bird and humans both. Looking forward to your own update from your vagabonding about. Best, Babsje

  11. What a wonderful thing to witness, Babsje. Love your photos so much!

  12. Beautiful photos of the GBH, Babsj. That is a colorful spot. I love the capture that the GBH is taking off especially. 🙂

    • Hi Amy – I’m so happy you singled out the image of that fledgling leaping into flight. Thanks for your lovely compliment. My lens is old and slow and I always feel lucky when an action shot works out. Best, Babsje

  13. My first reaction was “Flamingo? Isn’t she too far north for flamingos?” Certainly got my attention. Love that the property owners have such fun with their boat garden, made all the better with the presence of herons.

    • Hah hah hah! The first phrase of your comment had me literally guffawing out loud. Thanks! I have never met the property owners – nor even seen anyone attending to the sunken garden apart from the Great Blue Herons, of course. But I’d love to know what was their initial inspiration. Thanks for your fun comment. Best, Babsje

  14. Love the idea of a boat garden! What a beautiful place to wait for herons. Great shots, especially the last one. You patience paid off!

    • Thanks so much for your lovely compliment. I agree that turning that sunken boat into a garden was a really creative, clever thing to do. And the Herons foraging near that boat are the icing on the cake. Watching for them from across the way with binoculars was always a high point of a day on the lake. Looking forward to seeing what they plant for 2022! Best, Babsje

  15. I just had a brilliant and funny image of a great blue heron falling madly in love with a plastic flamingo. Oh the sadness and heartbreak!

    • What a wonderful thought, thanks Marilyn. Could be a charming children’s book. I can imagine you writing AND doing the illustrations. Get her sketchbook ready. Best, Babsje

  16. What a lovely collection to fit so many challenges. I enjoy doing the Squares. 🙂

  17. Weer zo’n fantastische foto

  18. I’m not aware of wildlife and birds taking a pink flamingo as a scarecrow figure. Cats, who are naturally cautious when they see something new, generally ignore them too. 🙂

    • Thanks David. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why they didn’t plant a garden then. Maybe it was an attempt at crop rotation? Yeah, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it. The Herons also ignore those scarecrow Owl figures on various docks at the lake. Best, Babsje

  19. That boat garden is beautiful and appealing — and I loved your tale of the herons. I’ll admit that my mind went in another direction when I saw ‘pink flamingo’ in your title, though. One of the greatest stories from the Texas coast involved an entirely real flamingo that escaped from a zoo in Wichita, Kansas, and came to Texas. It’s been spotted hanging out with the Whooping Cranes down on the midcoast, and there’s a wonderful article about it you’ll enjoy. I heard that it’s been spotted again, a little farther down the coast, but I can’t find confirmation. In any event, for a few years it’s been living la dolce vita! Too funny!

    • La solve vita for a vagabond Flamingo? I love it, thanks for sharing that story in your great comment! That escaped Flamingo reminds me of the huge Stellar’s Sea Eagle that has been wandering through New England and Canada, far off course from its native habitat. I hope both the itinerant Flamingo and Sea Eagle can find a mate somewhere, sometime. Best, Babsje

    • Aargh. Sorry that autocorrect mangled “la dolce vita” in my reply to your great comment.

  20. That taking flight photo bought a smile to my face, very nice indeed.

  21. Fun post with lovely photos, as usual! I alwys wonder why people have pink flamingos in their homes and gardens – we have them here too!

    • Hi Leya! So glad you like this fun post. The Pink Plastic Flamingo thing is international? I had no idea, but that brings a big smile. Thanks. Best, Babsje

  22. Very beautiful 💝💝💝💝

  23. So descriptive. I want to go there. Like your writing style.

  24. Such a lovely story about herons accompanied by beautiful photos. 😍 I love what you do.

  25. What a beautiful post, thanks for sharing.

  26. You have taught us so much about life of flamingos and your place in it. I am stumped by the plastic flamingos too. congrats on you art being displayed again. One of these days, you might see me visiting Natick. Donna

    • Hi Donna. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. I’m glad I’m not the only one bemused and a little befuddled by the pink plastic Flamingo phenomenon. I’ve been aware of their popularity going back to my college days and still think they’re silly fun. IIRC you have spent years in New England or Massachusetts, so I’m sure you know where Natick is. Thanks again. Best, Babsje

      • I do know where you are.

        Flamingos for me, these days, remind me of two of my grandchildren. I took them to our zoo and thought how fun for them to see pink birds. Well, one wailed as he was afraid and the other tried to climb the fence to play with the “pink birds”. They are 3 and 2. lol. I am sure I was a vision on that day. Your herons bring peace… Donna

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