Beautiful Great Blue Heron… and the Man with the Spider Tattoo

Great Blue Heron Fledgling Warrior Nbr 2 - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (

Great Blue Heron Fledgling Warrior Portrait – babsjeheron

© Babsje (

Great Blue Fledgling Surveying the Scene – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Fledgling About to Leap - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (

Great Blue Heron Fledgling About to Leap – babsjeheron

Great Blue Fledgling Sticks His Landing - babsjeheron © Babsje (

Great Blue Fledgling Sticks The Landing – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Fledgling Touch Down Nbr 1 - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (

Great Blue Heron Fledgling Touch Down Nbr 1 – babsjeheron

It was only after I had maneuvered in close enough to grab onto the strut of his pontoon – without t-boning my kayak against the point – that he came into focus, all gelled and spiky hair and tats, the silver bolts through his eyebrow and lower cheek glinting. He was sinewy and compact and – surprisingly – handsome for someone you wouldn’t want to encounter alone on the street after dark.

Before deciding to pull alongside the paddleboat, I had focused on the pilot’s gang colors and insignia, and hadn’t noticed the man with the spider tattoo. The pilot’s hat alone screamed to me of power and danger, and yet there he was piloting a four-seater paddle-boat into the southern lake, with three similarly bedecked men. Somehow paddle-boats and gang activity don’t go hand-in-glove, and they looked to be strangers in a new and strange land, for them.

Maybe it was the fact that one of his passengers was a young girl wearing pink shorts that emboldened me enough to approach them. She looked to be about ten or eleven, still innocent-looking despite the company she was keeping, and I guessed her to be one of the men’s daughter. Their women were surely back at the grills near the beach making dinner.

I had planted the kayak in the shade of overhanging trees along the western shore where the water gently lapped against my hull, picking up in intensity only when a larger boat rounded the point.

I heard them – boisterous and happy – before I felt their wake, and I felt their wake before I saw them, and when I saw them the first thing I saw was the captain’s over-size gang hat.

And the second thing I saw was their telegraphed trajectory – heading straight for the small nesting island. There was no doubt about that, and no doubt that they would make landfall, and no doubt that the adult male Heron would flee the nest and chicks when they did, for he is a skittish Heron. I say this all from experience.

I paddled out from under the leafy canopy into the open water and shouted out a greeting while paddling quickly towards them, aiming to cut off their path in a subtle way.

They answered my greeting, a good sign, and so I called out to them and explained “You can’t go to the island. There are protected birds there in a nest with babies. Don’t go to the island.”

And I held out my arm with the binoculars, gestured with the binocs, and asked them “Would you like to see the birds?”

And closer I paddled, not knowing if we even spoke enough of the same language to understand each other.

They pedaled towards me, and I paddled towards them until the tip of my bow nudged alongside their right pontoon.

I handed off the binoculars to the man with the spider tattoo, and pointed to the nest and gave him the quick nature story talk about the Herons and chicks and Cormorants. As I was explaining that the Heron is around four feet tall, he exclaimed “Beautiful,” and “Grande,” and something else that I couldn’t follow, but the look on his face was so soft and kind and he was clearly pleased to see the birds up close through the binoculars.

He handed off the binocs to the young girl, and all three of the grown men were solicitous of her, each wanting to make sure she could focus the binocs and see the nest. And when they were assured that, yes, she did see the nest and the birds, they each took turns with the binocs, and made big smiles and little exclamations about how grande and beautiful, and we talked about how the Cormorants are much smaller than the Herons and they taught me their word for small – Pequeño.

A new bird for them, a new word for me, and for all on those two small boats that day I think, a new understanding of how the beauty of Great Blue Herons can bridge the gaps between us.

Folks, I have written here before that this is a politics-free space. You won’t hear me advancing any political agenda. Posts here are not opinion pieces about current events.

HOWEVER, failing to weigh in on the heartbreaking events continuing to unfold in Europe would be exceedingly tone-deaf on my part.

I wrote back in December “Tis the season for wishes of peace on earth, goodwill to all. But wait. On second thought, why should those sentiments be extended only during the holiday season? I encourage peace on earth and goodwill to all for every season of the year. May 2022 bring you peace, health, happiness, and joy to all.”

And now in February March nearly April, it seems my sentiment from only two three months ago has fallen on deaf ears. I continue to pray that it is still not too late to turn the tides of war.


The Great Blue Herons once again graced the gallery walls through February 26th for a one-woman all-Heron show at the Summer Street Gallery, of The Center for Arts in Natick.

Great Blue Herons at TCAN Lobby January & February 2022 - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (

Great Blue Herons at TCAN Lobby One-Woman Show January & February 2022 – babsjeheron

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

Some of the images from my January February 2022 TCAN show have been placed in the online Art gallery, with more to be uploaded in coming days. You can be a fly on the wall! Please CLICK HERE to see the Great Blue Herons gracing the gallery walls.

Cee Neuner, Debbie Smythe, 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 Amy is “Earth Story.” Amy wrote “The natural world has many stories to tell. They are written on the ground, in the mountains and rivers, and on rocks and trees.” My story today is about how we ALL share our one beautiful Earth. We share it with ALL peoples. We share it with the magnificent Herons and ALL of Nature.


Thanks to Cee for her CFFC: Birds. Anybody see any birds around here?

From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 192: Earth Story.

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 192: Earth Story .

From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 192: Earth Story .
From Anne Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 192: Earth Story .


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 – Recent 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


Posted on March 29, 2022, in # Lens-Artists, ardea herodias, Art, Audubon, Birds, Inspiration, Mindfulness, monday portrait, Nature, Photography, ukraine, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 84 Comments.

  1. Beautiful pics and an happy ending

  2. What a wonderful encounter and story Babsje!

  3. Awesome shots of the GBH! Some look like Japanese paintings!

    • Thanks so much for your generous compliment. I think you’re right about the similarities with Japanese painting styles, thanks for sharing that observation. Best, Babsje

  4. You handled that situation very well Babsje! You are the Blues ambassador.

    • Hi Wayne. A Blues ambassador? I love it! I got lucky and no danger ensued, the encounter left us all with big smiles and warm feelings. Best, Babsje

  5. Wonderful, Babsj! Lovely captures of the heron. Beautiful details and texture of the background

    • Hi Amy. Thanks so much for your lovely comments. I’m pleased that you noticed the texture of the background. People don’t always think of concrete as being beautiful. Fortunately the Herons and Egrets enjoy fishing at that spot. And thank you for the great challenge this week. Best, Babsje

  6. Oh, my dear Babsje, your Great Blue Heron Fledgling photos are beautiful paintings!

  7. Your photos are almost alive, Babsje. Such a lovely creature!
    And no end to the war stories.

    • Hi Jo. Thank you very much for your lovely compliment about the images. I’m pleased that you sensed that fledgling’s aliveness. And I agree – the war stories should have ended – they should have never begun at all. Best, Babsje

  8. Lovely story but today I’m captured by the photos. All fledglings must master wings, legs, etc., but the young heron has an especially tough task — extra long legs, long curving neck, huge wings, extended beak. This one seems to be managing quite well.

    • I love how your comment has such empathy for the tasks facing the young Heron as he learns to master his body during what must be an awkward stage! Many thanks for that. Best, Babsje

  9. Lovely images and story Babsje. I agree with Amy, the concrete gives the images a rather ethereal feel.

    • Hi Tina. I’m so pleased that you appreciated that concrete as background. I like your word choice “ethereal.” Many thanks for your lovely comment. Best, Babsje

  10. Ahh, the Heron ‘tographer, par excellence. Superb. But have you seen the spider with the Man tatoo? 😉

  11. Great shots and a happy landing at the end 🙂

  12. I join in with your prayers for peace on earth🙏

  13. These images are just stunning, what a story. You created a communication and meeting in peace with those on the boats approaching the island unaware of the trauma they may cause, and you stopped it peaceably. In my way of believing the best way for individuals to bring world peace is to be peaceful and kind. Great Blue Herons are my favorite shorebird, I never knew I’d see them here, there are some that stay in our small wetlands area for a few months or annually through the snow. They are amazing birds.

    • Hi Laura. Many thanks for your lovely comment and your graceful way of expression. Glad to know that you are able to enjoy the Herons there. Best, Babsje

  14. Beautiful images, Babsje and a wonderful story, too. 😀😀

  15. They are wonderful birds to photograph

  16. Herons… How much I love them. These photographs are great, fascinated me. Can you believe in here, in the city, between the buildings there is an old tree and every year Herons come to this tree… I took their photographs a few years ago… before pandemi or at the beginning. Now I am so excited do they come again… Nature life is almost gone in my city, it was surprise to see them for me. Anyway, Thank you for visiting my other blog, it’s been a reason for me to know your beautiful blog. If you wish you can visit my photography blog too. It is private but you can make a request. Thank you, have a nice day, Love, nia

    • Hi Nia! Many thanks for visiting and your lovely comment. It’s wonderful that the Herons return to that tree between the buildings in your city. They must know it is safe for them there. Isn’t that a beautiful thing? You’re fortunate to be able to photograph them. Thanks again. Best, Babsje

    • Hi again Nia. I do not know how to request to join your other blog which is private. Would you be able to send me an invitation when you have a chance? Thanks in advance. Best, Babsje

      • Hi Babsje, is my private photographical journal blog, if you go to this blog, you will see it is private and it will say “send a request” then I can accept. I can send an ivitation to you but your name and your blog name says user not found, it should be an e-mail address. Anyway, if you try to send me a request it would work. If not, you can write to me, Thank you, Love, nia

      • Hi again, when I wrote babsjeheron it worked and now you can visit my blog, sorry for this. I hope you enjoy, Love, nia

  17. One of the best things about being out in nature — apart from nature itself — is the possibility of encounter like this. It’s a wonderful story. We need to stop being so afraid of one another, even as we’re more solicitous toward the birds.

  18. I had goosebumps reading your post, Babsje. You are a wonderful storyteller with a gift of understanding that allows us to see we are a part of natures and wildlife. We are not separate, but together. Sending hugs!

  19. These photographs have the feeling of being paintings. If I could paint that well, I’d ask permission to paint them. Keep up the amazing work.

  20. Babsje, I love how you disarm fear and bridge strangeness by awakening curiosity. Amazing.

    • Hi Gary. Thank you for your generous praise. It was a rewarding encounter and I was moved by how solicitous those men were of the young girl with them in the pontoon boat. They made sure she had a memorable outing. Best, Babsje

  21. We don’t see very many herons right around here (too many people), but they are such elegant creatures. Good story.

    • Hello! Thanks for visiting and for your kind comment. I’m glad you find the Herons elegant – I agree, elegant and graceful. Sorry you don’t have many around there, but they are often shy and can definitely make themselves scarce when crowded by people. Best, Babsje

  22. So glad I found your Bo=log (followed from the comment you left on mine). I love Herons. I don’t see them often, but I could watch them for hours.

    • Hi Dan! Thanks for the follow and your kind comment. When I lived in West Hartford and Pittsburgh I never saw any Herons, either. But it’s a different story here in MA. I can imagine you watching them for hours, like you say. I find that to be like a meditation. Best, Babsje

      • I see them once in a while at Great River Park in East Hartford and I usually see one when I bike or walk the Windsor Locks Canal trail. I don’t recall ever seeing one in Pittsburgh.

  23. A most pleasant surprise in your encounter. It challenges our preconceptions about people. Like the title of your post … a little of “The Girl with Dragon Tattoo.”

  1. Pingback: Beautiful Great Blue Heron… and the Man with the Spider Tattoo - news ollzon

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