Heron and Swimming Deer for Earth Day

Great Blue Heron in the cove, foraging. - babsjeheron © 2016 Babsje All. rights reserved. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron in the cove, foraging. – babsjeheron

Raise your hand if you remember your first Earth Day

White Tail Deer Doe with Fawn - babsjeheron © 2014 - 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

White Tail Deer Doe with Fawn – babsjeheron


The subtle shift in the tilt of the Great Blue Heron’s head alerted me to an unseen presence. The environment felt suddenly charged.

Great blue heron watching deer across the cove.

Great Blue Heron peering across the cove – babsjeheron

The Great Blue Heron perched gazing off to the east under half-closed eyes, and I sensed that she was going to go to sleep standing there.

It was mid-morning, her early fishing and feeding done. The log next to the blooming pickerel weed made a quiet resting place.

She was unmoving, serene, a study in tranquility, and those qualities were once again contagious – I felt the peacefulness of the space we shared, as I always do in the presence of Herons.

Deer viewed through leaves of blind.

Looking through leaves of my natural cover hide/blind – babsjeheron

Half an hour elapsed when a shift in the tilt of her head signaled that she was alert and watching something on the opposite shore. I was lulled into a sense of complacency, and thought that it was probably just the Irish Setter I had noticed ambling along the shore when I paddled into the cove that morning.

The Heron stiffened upright suddenly, as though coiled for action. The environment felt charged. Something, intuition perhaps, told me it wasn’t an Irish Setter at all. Maybe the Fox I’d photographed there a few years earlier was back!

Deer along the banks of the cove, directly across from the great blue heron.

Deer along the banks of the cove, directly across from the Great Blue Heron – babsjeheron

Holding my breath, I stared through the lens directly into the eyes of – not an Irish Setter nor a Fox – a large, mature Deer, a first-ever Deer sighting in the cove.

For forty-five minutes, the three of us shared the lower cove. The Deer watched the Heron during breaks in munching tender leafy bushes, but didn’t seem aware of me. The Heron also didn’t pay any attention to me, but watched the Deer intently, at one point flying about ten feet for a closer look.

And me? I watched both Deer and Heron with my heart on my sleeve.

Time stood still as I put the camera down and peered through my higher-magnification binoculars. I soaked in those enormous soulful eyes, the tickly-looking whiskers, and the adorable ears that seemed to swivel with their own sense of direction, the better to hear us with as the children’s fable says.
The encounter ended as all such wildlife-human encounters should end, utterly without drama: nobody spooked or flushed anybody.

The Deer finished munching greens, turned and sauntered softly back into the woods.

The Great Blue Heron stared after the Deer for a long while, and then once again took up her perch on the log.

And I, still wordless from the wonder of what had just unfolded, paddled on to the next lake, smiling all the way.

Fast forward ten months

Silent as a whisper, the Deer
Poem by Babsje

What of last summer’s Doe
Who watched from the shore
The Heron preening,
Ears attuned for movement,
Then ambled off into the ferns?

That was long ago –
Before that bad winter
Took so much.

She bowed to nibble
Columbine and hosta
On the far shore.

And swam home.

In less than a minute
Water sluiced from her shoulders
Her heavy udders,
Then she was gone
Silent as a whisper


© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

A glimpse through trees – could it be the White-tailed Deer? – babsjeheron

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

White Tail Deer Entering the Water Alongside the Dock – babsjeheron

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)


© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

White Tail Deer Swimming – babsjeheron

White Tail Deer Approaching the Shore - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

White Tail Deer Approaching the Shore – babsjeheron

White Tail Deer Climbing out of Water - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

White Tail Deer Climbing out of Water – babsjeheron

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

.White Tail Deer Vanishing into the Woods – babsjeheron

Fast forward four more months.

White Tail Deer Doe with Fawn - babsjeheron © 2014 - 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

White Tail Deer Doe with Fawn – babsjeheron


Between the first Deer encounter and the second one ten months later, the Polar Vortex had brought devastating, vicious cold.

Seeing a Deer swimming after the killing colds of winter was thrilling.

Viewing the photos on download was heartwarming: the Deer was the same one I had seen one day that previous summer. She had survived that harsh winter, and she had apparently given birth in the interim.

Taken four months later, the last photo of that Doe with her Fawn, still brings great joy.

Great joy.






About today’s post: I have been nearly blind for many months and so have been largely absent from WordPress blogs. Eye surgery was supposed to take place at the end of March, but has unfortunately been delayed until the end of May. Until then, Patience is the word of the day.

Because of my near-blindness, I’m not able to link in my posts to the various host sites for WP challenges/tags in the way I have always done in the past, but please know that I value the sense of community here, especially among the Lens Artists, Cee Neuner, Debbie Smyth, BeckyB, Denzil, I.J., and more, who all encourage the entire international network of photographers and writers. Sorry that I cannot link directly at this time – this is the best I can do for now.

I do love a happy ending, and hope my eye surgeon delivers one for the Herons & me! Patience Grasshopper.


Great Blue Herons at TCAN Lobby January & February 2022 - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

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

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

TCAN One-Woman Show January thru February 26 2022 Lobby Wall With TCAN Reflection © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

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

My Great Blue Heron photographs were 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. It was great to see so many of you there.

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 TCAN to see the wonderful gallery displays of artworks by many talented visual artists, as well as excellent live music performances and stage plays. The gallery is open whenever the box office is open, so please check hours here.

As always, many of my own photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.



Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District logo

Folks, now that some areas have opened back up in a new normal, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past THREE years and they still 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 – 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™

A Patience of Herons™

© 2003-2023 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick Center Cultural District, Earth Day, Deer, Swimming Deer


Posted on April 22, 2023, in ardea herodias, Art, Nature, Photography, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 58 Comments.

  1. Nice post. First Earth Day was in my senior year in college. I was part of a huge crowd of people who formed a human peace symbol for an aerial photo.

    • Hi Stephen. Thanks for your interesting comment. I bet there must be a copy of your peace sign photo floating around out there on the internet? Those were pretty heady times!

  2. These are lovely photos, and they show a great story of survival. I never really gave much thought to the idea of deer swimming. That’s an amazing picture. I love the heron. They are so patient. I guess we should learn from all of them.

    I hope your surgery takes place as planned and is successful.

    • Hi Dan – I’m glad you appreciate the image of the swimming deer. That was a very special encounter there in the cove. I’ve only observed one deer swimming, although I’ve seen Rocky the Swimming Squirrel swim across that same cove multiple times. As far as Deer are concerned, there are some magnificent Bucks swimming in photos out on the internet, so apparently it’s not all that uncommon. Many thanks for the well wishes. I’m getting antsy about being back out with a camera!

  3. I’m sure many notice that you don’t post often and we know the reason why.
    But when you do post we get a delightful insight into your world. A world of wild life that most of us will never see nor have the patience to sit and watch.
    It’s worth the wait for your words and pictures.
    April is almost over. Hoping May may bring good news to you.

    • Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment – you say the nicest things! I have actually learned a lot about Patience from watching the Great Blue Herons. I suppose if they aren’t patient, they don’t catch their dinners. And you’re right that May is almost here. Where has the year gone? Thanks for your well wishes for good news.

  4. Beautiful post! I will keep you in my thoughts in hopes of a good recovery.
    PS, I really enjoyed your poem and the story of the deer.

  5. Wonderful photos of the heron and the deer and fawn. Thanks for sharing these. 🙂

    • Many thanks for your lovely comment, I’m especially glad that you liked seeing the Deer and Fawn. That encounter left me bursting with joy. And there were actually two Fawns – the camera-shy one was lurking in the background shrubbery. What a happy ending story.

  6. We didn’t know that deer can swim, dear Babsje.
    Great shots 👍
    Wishing you a happy weekend
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Hi Klausbernd – thanks so much to you and all the Fab Four. Yes, Deer can swim – apparently the adults are well-suited physically and can be strong swimmers, the youngsters not so much. There are some glorious photos on the internet of large Bucks swimming and apparently even a breed called Chinese Water Deer. I wonder if the Deer in your area also swim? I bet Siri and Selma can find out quickly. My best to all the Fab Four of Cley. Enjoy your weekend.

    • You wouldn’t believe it, dear Babsje, we have Chinese Water Deer here. They escaped from a zoo and became a big family on the heath here. We never saw them swimming because most water here is tidal sea water. They don’t like this.
      All the best
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Oh dear! Or should I say Oh Deer! What a charming tale, although I suppose they are considered an invasive species there. Thanks for telling me about them, Klausbernd. And I hope all the Fab Four of Cley are having a Fab weekend. My best to all of the Fab Four.

        • The problem at this time of the year, they invade the gardens and love red and yellow tulips. All the heads of our tulips are eaten. But Muntjaks are worse here.
          Warm greetings from the cold sea
          The Fab Four of Cley
          🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

          • I know what you mean – and it’s sad to see the Tulips like that! The White Tail Deer in my backyard eat all of the flowers on the Hostas every year, which is unfortunate for the Hummingbirds that love those blossoms. Many thanks for the warm greetings! All my best to The Fab Four of Cley!

  7. Being in tune with Nature is the best reward one can expect I think Babsje.
    Being mindful is the cost of admission to Natures wonders.
    Loved your adventure and poem!

    • Dear Wayne – I think you’re right on both accounts – being in tune with Nature is a precious experience, and it’s a gift to partake. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment!

  8. Beautiful captures of the wildlife – thanks for sharing.

  9. So lovely to read on Earth Day! A blue heron has been stalking the meadow behind our home for days now, and the deer still graze there too, as well as the wild turkeys. And all the hills around our home are bursting with the Super-bloom wildflowers from all the rain California has been receiving this year. It is a good day to celebrate. I feel blessed.

    • Hi Deborah – wow, you are indeed blessed! Heron and Deer and Turkeys make a lovely peaceable kingdom near your home and the extraordinary super-bloom wildflowers are like the icing on your Earth Day cake. Many thanks for the lovely word picture in your comment.

  10. Happy Earth Day! I remember the first earth day. I was 15 years old. It changed the way I viewed the world around me. Sending positive thoughts for your surgery. LOVE your photography.

    • Dear Rebecca – I’m not surprised that the first Earth Day changed your world. My own first Earth Day had a similar effect and when I went off to university and had to choose a science course? None of that standard Biology or Chemistry or Physics for me, I picked Ecology instead. Thanks for your kind compliment about the photos.

  11. What an amazing interval you shared. I felt quite spellbound. And thank you for continuing to post. I hope normal vision can be restored soon.

    • Dear Jo – I like your word choice “spellbound” – that’s a great description of what it felt like for me, too. And thank you for your thoughtful well wishes for my eyes. Some days it is a challenge to be patient! But I am ever hopeful that I’ll be out walking around, camera in hand by summer. Until then, I continue to enjoy tagging along virtually with your own Monday walks! You show us such delightful places.

  12. Happy earth day. Beautiful celebratory photos.

  13. Your posts give me great joy!

  14. You’re welcome. We are fellow nature lovers for sure. 🙂

  15. Sweet Babsje – we love the little fawns here. Sadly they serve as bobcat feed, but we do love the bobcats too so that’s nature, isn’t it?! Lovely story with a happy ending

    • Dear Tina. Yes, it’s the circle of life, having both predator and prey is part and parcel of the mysterious ways of Nature and the wonders of Earth. And so often the apex predator is man. We even have Bobcats in my neighborhood here, a big surprise! Thanks for the lovely comment.

  16. Loved your poem and that you got to see the doe with a fawn many months later!

    • Many thanks for your warm comment about the poem and the Doe. It was a heartwarming experience and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. There were actually two fawns, but one was camera-shy and lurked in the bushes in the background.

  17. Loved this post…I could just feel the peacefulness of that setting, and the presence of the other two! Thank you for posting!

    • Hi Carol – thank you very much for saying that! I love that you could sense the peacefulness. It was indeed so tranquil. I appreciate your kind words.

  18. For a few minutes I was there with you, silently watching and enjoying the scene before us. No camera needed, though I’m happy you had images to share.

    • Hi Susan. Thanks for saying that. Pretty high praise if I was able to transport you there, pleased to have had you along for the experience! 😊

  19. Heerlijke post en foto’s. Had nog nooit een zwemmende ree gezien

    • Hi Marylou – thank you for your kind comment. I had not seen a swimming Deer myself until that day. Do Deer swim in The Netherlands? Glad you enjoy these photos.

  20. I don’t remember when I first became aware of earth day. It certainly was after I began blogging, and perhaps even after I began roaming around in nature with my camera; that was 2005 or so.

    On the other hand, I remember the precise day I first saw a swimming deer. It was during Hurricane Harvey, with its terrible floods. I looked out my apartment window toward the marina I lived beside, and there was the deer, swimming through the flood waters. See? He made it to shore, and some other residents watched him trot up a boat ramp and take off in the direction of a neighborhood golf course where he could find higher ground and a snack.

    Annie Dillard says there are two ways to experience nature: the stalk and the ‘set.’ Your ‘sitting around’ brought us a wonderful tale!

    • Thanks very much for sharing your own swimming deer story, I found it gripping. Thank you for sharing the happy ending for that deer. Hurricane Harvey was unprecedented, memorable beyond words for those of you who lived it first-hand. The unusual wildlife tales are remarkable. A friend’s holiday card was a photo of a very large alligator in their swimming pool in Katie – her home is ordinarily far far from water and gators. Annie Dillard is a treasure and your analogy about experiencing Nature rings true. Thank you for joining our sitting around!

  21. Great photos! I’ve seen deer swimming in the middle of a lake while I was out in a boat. I think they do it to cool off when it’s hot.

    • Hi T.W. I bet you’re right about your lake Deer taking a cooling dip on a hot day and you’re lucky to have been able to watch them from the boat! Thanks for your kind words about the photos. Maybe this summer you’ll capture your own swimming deer. 😊

  22. Amazing photos, Babsje!

  23. berniebell1955

    Having read your deer story….I thought you might like this one….


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