Put the Great Blue Heron Back on her Pedestal? Who, me?
And when I’ve reached the end of my days, may I be found with a Great Blue Heron’s nest built within my ribcage.
With apologies to Robert Macfarlane
The Old Ways
In more than a dozen years kayaking that area of the lake, I had observed a Great Blue Heron atop that tree pedestal only once – and at that time, before I could raise the camera, a pod of kayaks approached from the north, flushing the Great Blue.
It was very satisfying to finally stumble across her there that day. I observed through binocs and telephoto lens from a distance for nearly an hour as she slept and then preened and then slept some more, perched on one leg the whole time. It was a slow hour spent watching the Great Blue Heron languidly perched atop her pedestal. I was grateful to be in her presence, the two of us alone in a fine drizzle in the cove.
Later, I maneuvered the blue kayak into position and slowly nosed towards the tunnel entrance, when I noticed the other Great Blue Heron just inside. It was the mother of the fledglings that had left the nest on the island just nine days earlier. Quickly, I backpaddled a bit to get safely downwind and far enough back so I wouldn’t be seen, yet within camera range.
She strode slowly ahead, picking her way along the underwater ledge along the eastern side of the tunnel channel, then paused, erect, and stared across at something unseen. After a moment, she clambered higher onto the rocks along the wall and stood there, framed in stillness. I waited and watched from just outside the mouth of the tunnel.
She looked in my direction.
It was then that I heard it, during a lull in the muffled whoosh of car tires from the roadway twenty feet overhead, not simply the sound of the water lapping softly against the rocks.
“Arh…. arh…. arh…. arh….” with a little tremolo.
It sounded low and deep and like a frog, and I swiveled my head to see where the frog was. There had been very few frogs that summer, due to the weather and water levels; I no longer head the bullfrogs as I drifted off to sleep each night as in years past, and so was excited to hear a frog.
And then I realized that this was no frog singing there within the tunnel. It was the Heron vocalizing.
I edged in just a little closer and softly echoed back my own version of her 4-syllable call.
She repeated her refrain.
Great Blue Herons are often thought of as silent birds, but they are not. When frightened or fighting and sometimes when in flight, they call a croaking sound like “frawhnk.” During courtship, they sometimes intone a quiet call that sounds like “goo.” They sometimes greet members of their species with the “arh…” sounds.
I had heard this greeting sound only once before, about 6 years earlier while watching an immature Heron in the cove in late summer. At the time back then, I also had thought it was a frog, but it wasn’t. It was the Heron.
Crossing the tunnel at a slow glide in a kayak takes less than a minute. The Great Blue Heron took more than six that day. What a wonderful six minutes to be present and observe there in stillness.
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 nearlyApril, it seems my sentiment from only two threefour months ago has fallen on deaf ears. I continue to pray that it is still not too late to turn the tides of war.
If you smile at me I will understand,
‘Cause that is something everybody everywhere does in the same language.
David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Paul Kantner
Crosby, Stills & Nash
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 Sofia is “Bokeh.” Here is my Heron bokeh:
Thanks to Cee for her CMMC: Close up or macro.
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.
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 April 11, 2022, in # Lens-Artists, ardea herodias, Art, Birds, Inspiration, Mindfulness, monday portrait, Nature, Photography, ukraine, Wildlife Photography and tagged #fivecrows, CMMC, Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, TCAN. Bookmark the permalink. 44 Comments.
I bet you can’t wait until you get to go back out and see your Blue friends Babsje!
They’ll come looking for you soon!
Thanks Wayne! There you go being right again. The lake doesn’t open for another two months, biding my time in the archives is a feeble substitute. Best, Babsje
I keep meaning to mention how much I love that feather in your header. I’m tempted to touch it every time I visit.
Hi Susan. Many thanks for telling me that! It’s a sweet gesture to touch that feather when you visit. Big smiles. Best, Babsje
Such a wonderful installment of Heron love, Babsje. You make me want to be watching these wonderful creatures. 💖
Thank you very much for your kind compliments. I’m glad you feel that way. Best, Babsje
Most welcome, my friend. 💕
Hi Amy. Thanks so much for your lovely comment! Best, Babsje
Of course on her pedestal, where else?!!!! 😉
Brilliant, my dear Babsje!
Enjoy a beautiful week ahead.
Hi Marina. You say the sweetest things, many thanks for your kind thoughts. Wishing you a lovely week with lots of springtime. ❤ Best, Babsje
Thank you, my dear Babsje! Enjoy the days! 🌱🍀⚘🙏😘
🌞 🌙 🌟
An elegant lady! Showing off her feathers!
Thanks so much! I’m pleased that you like her posing on that pedestal. Best, Babsje
So beautiful, Babsje! I have heard the flight call but never had the opportunity to hang long enough to hear anything else. It’s amazing to me altogether that they produce a sound through that long neck, but of course they do.
Hi Lisa. Many thanks! You raise a good point about how can they “speak” with those long, slender necks? I’ve been enjoying your owl springtime bird forays, myself. Best, Babsje
What a lovely perch for her to pose on for you Babsje – makes for a lovely image. And thanks for including the bokeh for our challenge.
Hi Tina. Thanks so much for your kind compliments. I have to tell you that I accidentally hit the publish button instead of the preview button and so it went live before I had added in the usual Lens Artists links! I didn’t mean to publish this one until Tuesday – it wasn’t yet ready for prime time. Oh well. Live and learn. Best, Babsje
I’ve done that before, publishing before the post is ready.
Wow! Such an amazing Heron..he is different than the herons I saw in Florida.
Thanks for your kind comment and great observation! Yes, the northern Herons and the ones in Florida often have different coloring in their feathers. The Florida ones can tend to have more ruddy hues, especially in their neck feathers. I’m glad you like Herons and pay such close attention to them. Best, Babsje
Herons and egrets have always struck me as being ‘silent’ birds while by themselves, then surprised when they say something. Now, balancing on one leg for more than an hour and doing several tasks, that’s real physical endurance. 🙂
I used to be a co-leader on hikes with the Appalachian Mountain Club. My friends often wondered why I’d offer to be the “sweep” and hang way back behind the slowest hikers. It was because with a populous hike group of ten or more there was almost always too much chatter. After they all had passed the wildlife came back out, and I’d listen to loons and other birds. They seemed to say, “thank God those noisy primates are gone!”
Hi Lou! Thanks for your great anecdote, very smart strategy. I can count on two fingers the number of times other primates have been too chatty while I was enjoying the Herons – because those two times were the only times I took anyone out on the water with me to bird watch. Lessons learned! Best, Babsje
By the way you prompted me to write a post about sweeping1 thanks for inspiring me!
Hi Lou. You’re welcome! I had seen and liked your post! (Apologies for my delay in responding, but for some reason, this kind comment from you landed in WordPress spam.) Best, Babsje
This is my third time to this post, Babsje. Whenever I travel with you, virtually, I find that there is a sense of peace that flows over me.
It is a time for poetry:
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more”
Thanks Rebecca for the lovely compliment! Best, Babsje
This is so exciting adventure… I imagined myself there for a moment, I love Herons… But I can’t watch them as close as you do. I saw Heron by the canal once in UK and how excited I was, I scared Heron away from my excitement… I’ve never been this close before… It was a pleasure to read and watch your story with them, Thank you, I know how much patience and effort this kind of photography requires. I am aware. It’s impossible not to be a fan of your post. Thank you, Love, nia.
Hi Nia! Many thanks for your lovely comment and compliments. I know how you love the Herons, too. The Heron you saw in the UK was a Grey Heron. They are very similar to our Great Blue Herons, though a little smaller in size. Love, Babaje
Beautiful Babsje and wonderful words we should all be repeating. World peace! When will it come?
Hi Anne. Thanks so much for your kind words echoing the call to Peace. Best, Babsje
Thank you very much for your generous comment! Glad to know you appreciate this Heron. Best, Babsje
Read the blogs from “saumya saxena”.
I thoroughly enjoyed this serene visit with the heron as you skillfully maneuvered in your kayak, babsje. And I was happy to see you had the honor of showing your beautiful artwork recently. Congratulations and cheers to you and all your beautiful herons. BTW, I have heard great blue herons a few times, and your descriptions here are wonderful and accurate.
Hi Jet! Thank you very much for your thoughtful words. I’m pleased that you have had opportunities to hear the Great Blue Herons – thanks for validating my descriptions. It was so strange on those occasions when I mistook the Heron for a frog. They still make me shake my head and smile! Best, Babsje
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