Category Archives: Audubon

Put a Beautiful Great Blue Heron on a Pedestal? Who, me?

© 2017 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron on a Pedestal – babsjeheron

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

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Thanks to Jen H and WordPress for this week’s WPC Challenge: Satisfaction/. 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 two weeks ago. 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.

Thanks also to Paula for hosting her Thursday’s Special: Slow. 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.

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Through July 13, 2017 I was a Featured Artist 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.

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From July 1 through July 30, 2016, I was the Featured Artist of the Month at the Summer Street Gallery. The Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced the walls of the lobby and theater in a one-woman show at The Center for Arts in Natick. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.
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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2017 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows

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Quirky Artist Stories Nbr 12: Five Crows Brick & Mortar Features Great Blue Herons

In these days when anyone can set up an online shop to sell photography, I am proud to be represented by an honest-to-goodness brick & mortar gallery, Five Crows. Owned by a group of dynamic women artists – aka The Crows – the gallery is a true gem, showcasing the works of more than 150 local and regional artists, designers and artisans. Five Crows offers fine art photography, handmade jewelry, original paintings, scarves, stained glass, pottery and a slate of fascinating artist-taught classes. I’m honored to be one of the Featured Artists there this June and July, and to be in the company of the accomplished photographer Beth Hoffer.

Also, a quick thanks to the kind folks at Charles River Canoe & Kayak. Many of the Great Blue Heron photos shown here were taken from the seat of a CRCK kayak.

Maybe this should be filed under shameless self-promotion?

From July 1 through July 30, 2016, I was the Featured Artist of the Month at the Summer Street Gallery. The Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced the walls of the lobby and theater in a one-woman show at The Center for Arts in Natick. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.
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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2017 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows

Beautiful Great Blue Heron’s Calm Before the Storm (Quirky Artist Stories Nbr 11)

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

Great Blue Heron Sleeping Calmly Before the Storm – babsjeheron

With one eyelid partly open, the Great Blue Heron slept perched on one leg as the kayak slowly drifted past. Heron eyelids close from the bottom up – unlike ours – and they can sleep with an eye slightly open, as a cat will do.

It was exciting to discover where this Heron sleeps, and I took care to stay a healthy distance away as I paddled towards a natural hide in the trees along the shore. Was she aware of my presence across the cove? Perhaps. If she was, she didn’t let on.

Rain was in the forecast, and the lake deserted, calm and serene.

I floated onward to a favorite cove in search of that Heron’s mate. The cove is a narrow finger of water, with thick tree canopy on either side, making it difficult to see the sky for much of the length of the cove.

I was following the other Great Blue from a distance with a telephoto lens and noticed a lot of those plinking circles on the water’s surface that insects and nymphs make.

Belatedly, I realized it wasn’t insects making those circles – it was raindrops.

Quickly, I put my camera it its dry bag, stashed it below decks and paddled rapidly for the boathouse.

When I exited the cove, my kayak was SLAMMED broadside by the fiercest winds I’ve ever experienced – easily gusting greater that 50mph, if not an actual microburst. In moments of heart-pounding terror, I was sure my kayak was going to slam onto the jagged rocks and then roll.

Paddling as though my life depended on it, I steadied the kayak long enough to make it to the mouth of a tunnel, but there was a large powerboat inside, headed straight towards me, and another kayak on the left. The powerboat cut engines and managed to stop along the tunnel wall. He found a handhold in a seam of the concrete the way a rock climber grabs finger-width holds. I snugged my kayak as close to his bow as possible and another motor boat swung in behind me. The three of us waited out the vicious storm together, watching the winds blow sideways at alarming with alarming power.

When the storm abated sufficiently that it was safe to head in, we all did.

And the two Herons? I don’t know where or how they shelter, I just know they came through the storm and were back at their usual territories the next day.

I love happy endings.
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Thanks to Cherie and WordPress for this week’s WPC Challenge: Bridge. My place of refuge from the harrowing storm was a tunnel below a bridge of the Massachusetts Turnpike.
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From now through July 13th, I am a Featured Artist 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.

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From July 1 through July 30, 2016, I was the Featured Artist of the Month at the Summer Street Gallery. The Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced the walls of the lobby and theater in a one-woman show at The Center for Arts in Natick. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.
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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2017 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows

Great Blue Heron Doesn’t Let A Broken Leg Get Her Down

Break a Leg and Carry On ??

Great blue heron wings her way across the lake. © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great blue heron wings her way across the lake.

Worst-case scenario thoughts abounded as the photos downloaded that day.

Look closely at the Great Blue Heron’s left leg. Notice the extra bend?

I was really alarmed to see that broken leg.

Later on, I reviewed some older photos of that same Heron and realized the break had been there for some time.

The photos shown here are all of that same magnificent Great Blue Heron, taken over a period of three years after the photo at the top of this post.

Great blue heron with broken leg perched on boulder. © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great blue heron with broken leg perched on boulder.

Great blue heron with broken leg soaring up high. © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great blue heron with broken leg soaring up high.

Great blue heron with broken leg chasing off an interloper. © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great blue heron with broken leg chasing off an interloper.

Great blue heron perching on a well-healed broken leg. © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great blue heron perching on a well-healed broken leg.

Thanks again to Ben H and WordPress for their recent WPC Challenge: Resilient. No big-ticket Orthopedic Surgeon bills, no crutches, and no fancy orthopedic boot for this Heron. Nature has a way of healing her own. Wildlife needs to be resilient – like this Great Blue Heron – in order to survive.
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From July 1 through July 30, 2016, I was the Featured Artist of the Month at the Summer Street Gallery. The Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced the walls of the lobby and theater in a one-woman show at The Center for Arts in Natick. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

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™

© 2017 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN

Beautiful Great Blue Heron on the March

© 2017 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron strutting down the shoreline – babsjeheron

Yes, even Great Blue Herons strut and march, especially when protecting their turf. This Great Blue Heron marching down the shoreline to deter an interloping bird showed off an example from their powerful body language repertoire: the erected back feathers.
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Thanks to Ailsa of “Where’s My Backpack” for her recent Travel theme: Walking. Do strutting and marching count as “walking?” Yes, I say!

Thanks to Jeff G and WordPress for their recent WPC Challenge: Ambience. The mood in the cove that day was suspenseful as the adult heron marched the length of the upper shore in an aggressive effort to stake its territory. It was a powerful display of the birds’ urges to claim and protect their feeding grounds.

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From July 1 through July 30, 2016, I was the Featured Artist of the Month at the Summer Street Gallery. The Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced the walls of the lobby and theater in a one-woman show at The Center for Arts in Natick. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

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™

© 2017 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN

A Great Blue Heron Named Romeo? (Not Art Nbr 11)

In the beginning she’d lobbied to name the turkeys, which I nixed, but I relented later when I saw what she had in mind.

She christened them Mr. Thanksgiving, Mr. Dinner, Mr. Sausage, and—in a wild first-grade culinary stretch — Sushi.

excerpted from “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life”
by Barbara Kingsolver, with Steven Hopp and Camille Kingsolver

© 2017 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Herons with Litter – babsjeheron

Long-time readers may remember posts about an apparently lovelorn young male Great Blue Heron coming of age and his ardent pursuit of an older female.

On this day of cleanup in the cove, the young male had been intently watching the female from yards away down the cove, while the female poked the mud with her long beak, tugging persistently at something.

Just as the young male made his move, strutting up the clove towards the female in his courtship posture, her beak lurched free from the mud, with a huge plastic bag stuck on her lower bill.

I watched from my kayak hidden from their view in the trees along the shore, wondering if his ardor would be cooled by the plastic bag, or if he would try to wrest the trophy from her.

She pivoted on her heels and flew westward out of the cove with the bag trailing from her beak, leaving the young male behind.

I would be anthropomorphizing – something forbidden for field naturalists – were I to describe him as being dejected, of course.

But then again, these are the only two wild creatures to whom I’ve given names.

How much – or how little – do we know about the emotional lives of birds?

And how do we know what we know?

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Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for their recent WPC Challenge: Names. At a presentation at the lake’s Nature Center years ago, the noted raptor rehabilitator Tom Ricardi was asked what he named the Eagles and Hawks and Falcons in his care. His reply was that he did not name the raptors, because to name them would diminish their wild nature. That philosophy struck a chord, but I made an exception for Romeo, shown in the photo here. Similarly, the marvelous author Barbara Kingsolver described teaching her children to not name the animals they were raising as their food, and even she allowed an exception for some obstreperous young male turkeys, who became known as Mr. Thanksgiving, Mr. Dinner, Mr. Sausage and even “Sushi.”

I’ve written here in the past about Tom Ricardi’s delightful presentation of Bald Eagles at our Nature Center, and this short video shows Tom with a 35 year old Golden Eagle, Turkey Vulture, Kestrel, Gyrfalcon and more.

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From July 1 through July 30, 2016, I was the Featured Artist of the Month at the Summer Street Gallery. The Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced the walls of the lobby and theater in a one-woman show at The Center for Arts in Natick. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

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™

© 2017 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN

ew a cardinal

Beautiful Great Blue Herons After the Storm (Not Art Nbr 10)

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

Great Blue Heron and Four Chicks in Nest

The house rocked.
Windowpanes trembled with each percussive blow.
There was no separation at all between lightning bolt and thunderclap.
I huddled in the middle of the room, as far from windows as possible, waiting out the storm at ground zero.
But it wasn’t ground zero at all.

Photographer gets too close to a great blue heron nest while the nestlings are being fed by an adult.

Photographer gets too close to a great blue heron nest while the nestlings are being fed by an adult.

Close readers of this blog are aware of the protectiveness I feel towards the Great Blue Herons and their nesting places, especially the nesting island in the southernmost lake. I’ve written here about the fact that humans are among the most dangerous threats to the Herons.

Over the years, I’ve fretted about too much boat traffic encircling the nesting island, concerned that the adult Herons would abandon the nest and their chicks. And I’ve watched as predators like Osprey and Red Tailed Hawks threatened them.

Despite cautious monitoring of small craft and water skiers looping the island, despite watching with a lump in my throat as the predatory birds set their sights on the Heron chicks, at the end of the day, the nest was toppled by extreme winds.

An act of Nature, not of Man.

It was the Great Blue Herons’ nesting island – and not my home – that was at ground zero for the storm that night, and the tall tree supporting the Herons’ nest collapsed.

Only two months before the storm, I wrote of the sounds of the four Great Blue Heron chicks in the nest as music to my ears:

Chih-chih-chih… chih-chih-chih… chih-chih-chih… changes.
It’s not just a David Bowie song.

And what of those four chicks in the photo at the top of this post? Had they fledged before the storm took out their nest? Surely that would be their only hope for survival.

I returned to the lake every day I could after the storm, looking for survivors. I saw at least one of the fledgling chicks and one of the adult, parent Herons. My heart beamed elatedly.

© 2017 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron adult two days after the storm – babsjeheron

Back in August 2015, I wrote of that nest

Those chicks are destined to be the last brood to fledge from our island.

© 2017 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Fledgling sighting locations on the Lake September 2016 – babsjeheron

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Fast forward one year, to September 2016. I had no idea where – or even IF – the Herons would breed again in that area. You may remember my story of the Bald Eagle stalking the Great Blue Fledglings one rainy day.

That day, the Eagle was looking for lunch in all the wrong places.

That day, I counted more Great Blue fledglings than I’d ever seen before in a single day.

I’ve been looking for the new nesting spot, to no avail so far. That is a good thing. If I can’t find it, neither will the water skiers with their noisy motor boats.

I love happy endings like that.

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Thanks to Ben H and WordPress for their recent WPC Challenge: Resilient. If surviving that fierce storm and coming back the following year with an even larger crop of fledglings is not a sign that the Great Blue Herons are resilient, I don’t know what is. Events like that storm and the survival of some of the Herons in the aftermath, and their successful breeding the following year are also increasing my own resilience, increasing my optimism for the future survival of the small community of Herons at the lake. Each year there are new threats – especially from habitat destruction along the shoreline and in a few of the coves – but so far, each year, the Herons maintain their wing-hold at the lake.

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From July 1 through July 30, 2016, I was the Featured Artist of the Month at the Summer Street Gallery. The Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced the walls of the lobby and theater in a one-woman show at The Center for Arts in Natick. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

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™

© 2017 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN

Great Blue Heron Wishes of Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All (Not Art Nbr. 9)

…I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things…

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry, excerpt
from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry

© 2016 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Fledgling Greetings – babsjeheron

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Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for the recent WPC Challenge: Anticipation. I am anticipating Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.

And thanks also to Nancy T and WordPress for her recent WPC Challenge: Time of Year . It’s that time of the year when many express fond wishes of seasonal cheer. Count the Herons and me in as extending wishes of goodwill to all, and gratitude for the many sharings by others.

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My Great Blue Heron photography has been featured in 3 one-woman shows at the Summer Street Gallery of The Natick Center for the Arts. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

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™

© 2016 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, kayaking

Great Blue Heron’s Magical Camouflage

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

Great blue heron blends in with rocks.

Like a real-life Where’s Waldo?

The patron in the Audubon gallery had browsed through the collection of Great Blue Heron photos, but kept returning to the one you see above.

Finally, she came over to me and asked why I had included one without any Herons. We walked over to the wall together and I pointed out the Heron, his back perfectly camouflaged against the rocks. Had I cropped out the tell-tale burst of water drops that were flung upwards as the Heron thrust her head beneath the surface, the camouflage effect would be even more apparent. If you cover that burst of water in the photo with your hand, you can see how the Heron’s back fits in with the rocks.

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

Great Blue Heron camouflaged in pickerel weed.

The patch of pickerel weed along the shoreline in the photo above has been a perennial favorite. Can you find the Great Blue Heron there?

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Thanks to Jen H and WordPress for the recent WPC Challenge: Magic. Is camouflage magic? I say yes, emphatically.

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My Great Blue Heron photography has been featured in 3 one-woman shows at the Summer Street Gallery of The Natick Center for the Arts. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

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™

© 2016 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, kayaking

Beautiful Great Blue Heron’s Magical Feather

© 2013 Babsje. (Http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Feather – babsjeheron

Red is grey and yellow white,
but we decide which is right,
and which is an illusion.

Moody Blues, Days of Future Passed

The feather shown in the top pane here is the same feather as that shown at bottom. Both photos were taken on the same day, with the same camera and lens, within minutes of each other. Only the background colors have been changed.

Some fascinating examples of ‘color illusions’ such as this can be found at Brain Den. Enjoy!

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Thanks to Jen H and WordPress for the recent WPC Challenge: Magic. Is an optical illusion magic? Yes, in fact, many magic tricks employ optical illusions, as a quick internet search will reveal.

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My Great Blue Heron photography has been featured in 3 one-woman shows at the Summer Street Gallery of The Natick Center for the Arts. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

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™

© 2016 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, kayaking

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