Beautiful Great Blue Heron… and the Man with the Spider Tattoo
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 Marchnearly April, it seems my sentiment from only twothree 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.
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 .
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
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. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)
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 CFFC, Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, TCAN. Bookmark the permalink. 84 Comments.
Beautiful pics and an happy ending
Many thanks for pointing out the “happy ending.” I like happy endings. Glad you enjoyed this post. Best, Babsje
I enjoyed it more because it ended well. Those people enjoyed the view and the birds were left I disturbed.
I agree, it ended very well. Thanks again.
What a wonderful encounter and story Babsje!
Hi Anne. I’m so glad you liked this story! Many thanks for your kind words. Best, Babsje
I photographed some Blue Herons nesting the other day and thought of you!
How sweet. Thank you Anne
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
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
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
Oh, my dear Babsje, your Great Blue Heron Fledgling photos are beautiful paintings!
Hi Marina. What a lovely, generous compliment. Thank you. Those images are painterly, aren’t they. Best, Babsje ❤
They are! Very much so! ❤
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
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
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
Ahh, the Heron ‘tographer, par excellence. Superb. But have you seen the spider with the Man tatoo? 😉
Many thanks John for your kind compliments and fun retort re Spider with a Man Tattoo. Love it! Best, Babsje
Great shots and a happy landing at the end 🙂
Thanks very much for your kind words. I’m happy that you liked the Heron’s happy landing. I did, too! Best, Babsje
I join in with your prayers for peace on earth🙏
Thank you VERY much, Anne. Best, Babsje
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
Majestic! Great shots, Babsje! 😀
Hi Tom. Thank you very much for your generous compliment. I’m glad you appreciate this young Heron. Best, Babsje
Beautiful images, Babsje and a wonderful story, too. 😀😀
Hi Patti. Thanks so much for your thoughtful compliment. I’m pleased that you like this one. I thought your own Joy Harjo post was wonderful. Best, Babsje
They are wonderful birds to photograph
Hi Kelly. I’m so glad you think so – I agree entirely. They are wonderful. Glad you like the Herons. Best, Babsje
We get a lot of them in New Brunswick and they always thrill me to capture in photos
Hi Kelly. That’s great to hear and you’re lucky to photograph them! They should be getting ready for nesting up there soon!
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, http://www.photographyofnia.com 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
Hi Nia. That’s wonderful, thanks so very much. ❤
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.
So very well said. Thanks for your great observations! Best, Babsje
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!
Many thanks, Rebecca. I love how you express this: “We are not separate, but together.” Eloquent! Best, Babsje
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.
Thanks so much for saying that. I think it’s high praise to call them painterly. I wish I could paint, myself, but I cant draw my way out of a paper bag, as the saying goes. Best, Babsje
You might not be able to draw, but you are an amazing photographer. I admire that you have picked one subject and have became an expert on it.
Many thanks for your very kind words. The Herons are a labor of love, and have taught me much about patience. Best, Babsje
Patience is working. ;0)
You say the nicest things, thank you!
How sweet of you. Thank you.
My pleasure. You’re welcome.
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
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
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.
I bet your walks on the Windsor Locks Canal trail are interesting. I wonder how your four-legged walking companion would react to encountering a 4foot tall bird?
Since she is often in awe of the geese walking around, I imagine she would be speechless. I can’t take her on the canal. The path is only 8-10′ wide, and there’s nowhere to escape. She’s not very sociable.
What a character she must be to react so to Geese!
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.”
Hi David. Many thanks for your thoughtful comment. I first used the phrase “the man with the spider tattoo” back in 2013. I’m not familiar with the book you mention, though. Thanks for bringing it to my attention! I like your recent post about Covid, btw. Well researched. Best, Babsje
“Girl with The Dragon Tattoo.”
Sent an email.
Hi Chris! Many thanks for your generous compliment – I’m pleased that you appreciated this Great Blue. Best, Babsje
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