Category Archives: A Word A Week Photo Challenge

What Empties Itself

The maple’s green hands do not cup
the proliferant rain.
What empties itself falls into the place that is open.

Jane Hirshfield
A Hand (excerpt)
Given Sugar, Given Salt

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

Great Blue Heron in the rain,

The squall snuck up on me – and the Great Blue Heron – without warning. One minute, a noticeable increase in the breeze, the next, the rains. The kayak scudded on small whitecaps before I brought her under control. The sun kept shining faintly through thin layers of clouds, and I looked for a rainbow, to no avail.

And the Great Blue Heron? She remained rooted to the upturned limb throughout, enduring wind and waterdroplets as the blue kayak and I danced on waves further out in the cove.

Instinctively, I dropped the camera below decks where it was dry, and watched the heron through (waterproof) binocs.

Surely she would go elsewhere in search of shelter? But no, she remained stoic, preening impassively, water sluicing from her feathers.

Just as leaves on a tree shed the rain.

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This week’s photo challenge is endurance. Thanks to Krista and WordPress for this topic. If the heron could endure the rain, so could I. My camera gear is not waterproof, but I had the next best thing – a DIY camera housing improvised on the spot. I placed the camera in a large zip-top plastic baggie, tore a hole that snugly fit the lens opening, and took dozens of photos during the rain, with occasional pauses to wipe water droplets from the lens.

This week’s Sue’s challenge is hole. Although this photo doesn’t show the hole, it could not have been taken without a hole for the lens.
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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking

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“My What Big Wings You Have!” Exclaimed Goldilocks to the Swan

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

How delicate the three-day old cygnets look between their massive parent swans.
Please click here for the new Swan Photo Gallery

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Thanks to Paula for her wonderful Thursday’s Special Non-Challenge challenge.

Thanks once more to Danielle H and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Between.

Thanks to Sue for her A Word A Week Photo Challenge: Delicate.

Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for hosting the Wild Bird Wednesday challenge.

Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.

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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Cygnets, Mute Swan, Kayaking

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Male mute swan incubates eggs in the nest.

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

Female mute swan joins male, who is sitting on their clutch of eggs in the nest.

During breeding season, the easiest way to differentiate between male and female mute swans is by comparing the black knob at the base of the male’s beak. During nesting time, the cob (male) has an enlarged black knob compared to the smaller one of the pen (female).

If you look closely at the two nesting swans shown here, the swan sitting on the eggs has the enlarged knob signifying a male.

This is only the second time I have ever observed two mute swans on a nest together – a couple of weeks ago was the first sighting. Looking at that first photo (click here) it was the female sitting on the eggs back then.

My takeaway from observing these two at their nest over the past three weeks is that (some) mute swan pairs share (some) responsibility for incubating their eggs. I am not sure if they share that duty as equally as other birds, such as the great blue heron, or how universal this behavior is for other mute swans of North America. It’s a bit of a mystery.

I love a good mystery.

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Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Extra-Extra. This week, Michelle has challenged us to post a photo with an extra, unexpected detail. Seeing that it was the male swan incubating the eggs – and not the female – was an extra detail, one that I nearly missed, until I looked more closely at the photos from that day’s session.

Thanks to Sue for her A Word A Week Challenge: Happy. I’m guessing that the female swan is happy to have an egalitarian mate, one who shares the traditionally female chore of sitting on the eggs.

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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Mute Swan, Kayaking

Hey, Wait for Me!

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

Hey wait for me! Is there room for one more?

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Thanks to Ben Huberman and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Room. It was a surprise to see that the mother swan had room on her back for all five of her babies, tucked between those enormous wings.

Thanks to Paula for her wonderful Thursday’s Special Non-Challenge. This was a very special moment.

Thanks to Ailsa for her Weekly Travel Theme: Unexpected. Seeing each of the five cygnets riding on the female swan’s back was an unexpected high point of that day at the lake.

Thanks to Sue for her A Word A Week Challenge: Happy. Cygnet number five may have felt very happy when it was his turn to clamber up on his mother’s back, or at least I felt happy for him.

Congrats to Stewart Monckton for his 100th Wild Bird Wednesday, and thanks again for hosting the Wild Bird Wednesday challenge.

Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.

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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Mute Swan, Kayaking

As The Day Draws Near

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

Nesting mute swan joined by her mate on her nest as the day draws near.

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Thanks to Ben Huberman and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Room. It is surprising that the swan’s nest has room for both the pen (female) and her cob (male).

Thanks to Ailsa for her Weekly Travel Theme: Unexpected. Seeing the pair of mated swans in the nest together was quite unexpected. I have never observed this behavior before.

Thanks to Sue for her A Word A Week Challenge: Happy. I was elated to come across this scene of domestic swan-bliss

Congrats to Stewart Monckton for his 100th Wild Bird Wednesday, and thanks again for hosting the Wild Bird Wednesday challenge.

Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.

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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Mute Swan, Kayaking

Water Enjoy!

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

Charles River tableau as seen from a kayak.

This week, Cheri challenged photographers to depict “letters,” and Sue challenged us with “water.” By some stroke of luck, the “letters” in the photo here happen to spell “water.”

The tableau on a point jutting into the Charles River in Newton, MA, is a welcome sight on hot summer days: the owners fill the copper tub with water bottles for thirsty kayakers and canoeists. Their property teems with whimsical statuary, including an alligator crouching on the shore, an iguana perched on an overhanging branch, a black bear rearing up on hind legs (with cub underfoot), a family of three white-tailed deer, a giant Galapagos tortoise, and more.

And no, the great blue heron shown in the next photo isn’t one of their life-like statues – it’s the real deal in a cove just around the bend from the bison – but I wouldn’t be surprised if one day they added a heron statue to their menagerie.

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

Great blue heron poised in the Charles River.

File this post under just for fun.

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Thanks to Cheri Lucas Rowlands and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters.

Thanks to Sue for her Word A Week Photography Challenge: Water.

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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron

Goes Around, Comes Around

It was twenty ten years ago today…

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com) Great egret pauses by tunnel.

Great egret pauses by the round tunnel aperture.

In some unexpected and delightful alignment of the moon and the stars and the planets, both Ailsa and Sue have challenged bloggers this week with the same topic: Round.

This photo of the Egret standing near a round, corrugated metal pipe entrance, speaks for itself.

More subtle is a different sense of the word “round” – as in the way things can come around full circle. It was ten years ago today that I wrote my first great blue heron story. It is a piece that I’ve adopted as an informal “artist statement.” (If you haven’t read it before, please click here.)

And the herons? They’re a study of Patience and Grace.

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Thanks to Ailsa for her Weekly Travel Theme: Round.

Thanks to Sue Llewellyn for her Word a Week Photo Challenge: Round.

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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Egret, Kayaking

Written by Small Hands

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

Some entries from the guest book for a one-woman photography show I had a few years ago.

A few years ago, I held a one-woman show of great blue heron photographs at an Audubon Sanctuary. The show was up for a full month, during the summer when the center was also hosting a summer vacation session for children. One week, the nature center topic focused on great blue herons. What a fun coincidence that my photos and their lesson plan overlapped. I like to think of some of the budding naturalists becoming lovers of herons.

Luckily, I had chosen a child-friendly rainbow assortment of calligraphy marker pens for people to use for entries in my guest book. As you can see from the image here, the children weren’t shy about writing their comments about the herons in colorful, artistic ways.

I treasure these pages written by small hands.

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In case you’re wondering, some, but not all, of the photos from that exhibit are in the photo gallery of this blog. You can click here to view the gallery if you’d like.

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Thanks to Cee for her Fun Foto Challenge: Small prompt. (This week, Cee challenged us with the topic of small. The guest book comments in a small hand are precious to me.)

Thanks to Ailsa for her Where’s My Backpack: Yellow challenge. (This week, Ailsa challenged us with the word “yellow.” When I placed the set of markers on the podium next to the guest book, I removed the yellow marker at first, thinking no one would use it. I had second thoughts, though, and put it back. It was a favorite color with some of the very youngest children, who couldn’t write words but made lovely, bright yellow scribbles in my book, instead.)

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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Audubon

Great Blue Heron Channeling the Maestro

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

Great blue heron conducting the orchestra.

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Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.

Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for the Wild Bird Wednesday prompt.

Thanks to Ailsa for her Where’s My Backpack: Dry prompt. (The only dry thing about this photo is my sense of humor!)

Thanks again to Sue for her Word A Week: Figure challenge. (The maestro cuts a dashing figure, no?)

Thanks to Michelle for her Weekly Pet Challenge.

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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron

Beautiful Baby Great Blue Heron

There had been reports in the local media about an alligator sighting at the lake, and I was happy that the red kayak and I weren’t on the lunch menu that day.

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

Great blue heron fledgling in autumn.

It was November, and for the first time since early summer, I took the red kayak out for a paddle in the backyard lake.

It was exciting to catch a glimpse of a great blue heron in flight from the corner of my eye. He veered towards the small island in the cove at the eastern end, landed, and then slipped quickly into the brush and marshy reeds, just out of sight.

Slowly, surreptitiously, I paddled along the opposite shoreline on an eastward course, parallel to the shore of the small island, opposite the side where he had taken cover.

The paddling was tricky, the small wind-driven waves a challenge for the flat-bottomed whitewater kayak.

Slowly, I eased into position in a natural-cover hide, stern backed against a stand of reeds for stability, and craned my neck to get into position, binocs raised.

I wanted to see which of the two herons from last summer it was – one had long graceful breeding plumes dangling from the back of it’s cap, the other did not – but the sticks and shrubs perfectly camouflaged the heron lurking in the brush.

At last, slowly, the heron crept forward into a stand of reeds at the tip of the island.

I could just barely see a glint of the white and yellow patch on its face, just above the bill, but the neck and body were obscured.

I held my breath and watched and waited, binocs trained on the reeds, trying so hard to keep the kayak motionless, looking for any telltale riffling motion or parting of the reeds that would give a better view of the heron.

And then the heron emerged and stood motionless.

His watchfulness was palpable.

Cautiously, he stepped closer to the water’s edge, and I trained the binocs on his neck for the telltale plumes, and then it dawned on me.

This was neither of last summer’s herons.

It was a new heron.

A juvenile, clearly a fledgling born just a few months earlier.

I took it all in through the binocs, elation blooming by the second: the dark blueblack feather cap, the dark bill, the ruddy feathers…

We stayed together for about half an hour, the heron feeding and preening and feeding again, and ruffling and shaking the water from its feathers from head to toe just like a wet dog shakes it off.

Then I turned the kayak back towards home so the heron could feed in peace as long as it could, with the cold weather coming. What a lovely paddle it was.

No juvenile herons at all were sighted at the big lake that year.

How very wonderful to know the brood succeeded here at home.

Wordless joy to behold.

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Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition. (The juxtaposition was the great blue herons’ breeding success at the small lake compared to their failure at the large lake.)

Thanks to Paula for her Thursday’s Special Non-Challenge Challenge.

Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for the Wild Bird Wednesday prompt.

Thanks to Sue for her A Word a Week Photo Challenge: Undulate prompt.

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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Fledgling, Fledgling, Kayak Birding

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