Category Archives: Birds

Great Blue Heron Earth Day Love Redux

Great Blue Heron soaring upwards, like the mythical Phoenix - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron soaring upwards – babsjeheron

There wading through grasses,
the birds lean skyward…

Great Blue Heron Landing at Nest with Branch for Nest Building - babsjeheron  © 2016 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Landing at Nest with Branch for Nest Building – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Nest Building Sequence 1   © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

The new stick is so large the female props it on the male’s back for an assist.

The Herons engage each other during a break in nest building - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

The Herons engage each other during a break in nest building – babsjeheron

Four weeks after mating, a Great Blue Heron returns to the nest and presents a stick to the mate, hunkered down atop the eggs about to hatch - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Four weeks after mating, a Great Blue Heron returns to the nest and presents a stick to the mate, hunkered down atop the eggs about to hatch – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Guarding the Nest - babsjeheron  © 2012-2013 Babsje. (Http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron guarding the nest while a Red Tail Hawk circles in the background – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Fledgling Bill Duel   © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron fledglings at play: bill dueling – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Nestlings Learning to Fly - Sequence Nbr1  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron nestlings – first attempt at flying – babsjeheron.

Great Blue Heron Fledgling Testing Wings  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron fledgling practicing flying one day before fledging for good – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Fledgling Alone in Nest - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron fledgling alone in the nest minutes after his nestmate fledged for good – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron and Four Chicks in Nest- babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

The following year at the same nest: Great Blue Heron and Four Chicks in Nest – babsjeheron


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When the Green Shoots Come

We went out to watch
the comet that night

across the road,
where the break in the trees
opened to heaven.

The nights were warmer by then,
that April night,

and climbing the short fence
between roadway and nature,

you stumbled into grasses
left flattened by snow.

I broke your fall.

And do you remember
how i spun you to the East?

At my feet, the heron’s neck
bent at the wrong angle,

and the nylon filament
wrapped feathers and bone, flightless.

I never told you.

For five seasons now,
I’ve watched the marshes…
the geese, the swans, the coots…

One blue heron…

Wondering if they mate for life
like coyote? quail…loons…

For five seasons since…

Today i am enthralled
when the green shoots come

to the surface of the field
like an ocean of spring.

There wading through grasses,
the birds lean skyward

and, gathering momentum, rise up
to soar.

Both of them.

The herons.

~~~

14 April, 2003
joyce

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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 nearly April, it seems my sentiment from only two three four months ago has fallen on deaf ears. I continue to pray that it is still not too late to turn the tides of war.

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 Anne is “Colorful Expressions.” The Boston Marathon is a sea of many colors.

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Thanks to Cee for her CFFC: Water. The Herons and nest photos took place 70 feet above the water!

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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.

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

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

The Center for Arts Natick believes the arts are essential to a complete human experience and to the creation of a vibrant, healthy community. Since 2001, TCAN 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.
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Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District logo

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 June 2022
.
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™

© 2003-2022 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick, Boston Marathon, Comet Hale-Bopp

Read the rest of this entry

Put the Great Blue Heron Back on her Pedestal? Who, me?

Great Blue Heron on a Pedestal Nbr 2 - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Monday Portrait: Great Blue Heron on a Pedestal Nbr 2 – 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

Great Blue Heron on a Pedestal - babsjeheron  © 2017 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron on a Pedestal – babsjeheron

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.

Goosebumps!

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.
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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 nearly April, it seems my sentiment from only two three four months ago has fallen on deaf ears. I continue to pray that it is still not too late to turn the tides of war.

Bears repeating:

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
Wooden Ships
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:

Great Blue Heron Profile - babsjeheeon © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Profile – babsjeheron

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Thanks to Cee for her CMMC: Close up or macro.
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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.

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

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.
.

Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District logo

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 June 2022
.
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™

© 2003-2022 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick

Read the rest of this entry

Beautiful Great Blue Heron… and the Man with the Spider Tattoo

Great Blue Heron Fledgling Warrior Nbr 2 - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Fledgling Warrior Portrait – babsjeheron

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

Great Blue Fledgling Surveying the Scene – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Fledgling About to Leap - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Fledgling About to Leap – babsjeheron

Great Blue Fledgling Sticks His Landing - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Fledgling Sticks The Landing – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Fledgling Touch Down Nbr 1 - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Fledgling Touch Down Nbr 1 – babsjeheron

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.
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.

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 nearly April, it seems my sentiment from only two three 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.

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

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.

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Thanks to Cee for her CFFC: Birds. Anybody see any birds around here?
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 192: Earth Story.
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 192: Earth Story .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 192: Earth Story .
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From Anne Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 192: Earth Story .
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Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District logo

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 June 2022
.
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™

© 2003-2022 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick

Read the rest of this entry

Beautiful Great Blue Heron… Not Just Another Pretty Face

Great Blue Heron head-shot in the cove - babsjeheron  © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron head-shot portrait – babsjeheron

Great blue heron fledglings in nest in mirror image - babsjeheron  © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Two peas in a pod: Great Blue Heron fledglings in symmetry – babsjeheron

Great blue heron fledglings in synchronized, mirror-image preening. Remarkable how in sync they are - babsjeheron  © 2013 Babsje. (Http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron fledglings in synchronized, symmetrical preening. Remarkable how in sync they are – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Feathers - Detail - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Feathers – Close-up Detail – babsjeheron

Look, you might as well know, this thing
is going to take endless repair: rubber bands,
crazy glue, tapioca, the square of the hypotenuse.
Nineteenth century novels. Heartstrings, sunrise:
all of these are useful. Also, feathers.

Barbara Kingsolver
“Hope, An Owner’s Manual”
(excerpt)

The focus for this week’s Lens Artist challenge hosted by Patti is “Close and Closer.” Patti wrote “we challenge you to move closer to your subject. Post one photo or a series of photos showing what happened when your subject filled the frame. Did this reveal new details? Did this eliminate distracting or unnecessary elements in the photo? Did this add more drama or empathy to your image? Get closer by moving your feet, by using a zoom or macro lens, or by cropping the photo.”

As a wildlife photographer, I can endorse the use of “a zoom or macro lens or cropping the photo.” However I cannot support the idea of moving closer to wildlife. Humans can unintentionally endanger the wildlife they wish to photograph. For example, as passionate Eagle blogger Doc Ellen points out, “People must stay 660 feet from an active bald eagle nest, according to Federal law.” Learn more from Doc Ellen about efforts to protect Bald Eagles CLICK HERE.
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From one of my own impassioned PSA posts about Great Blue Herons needing their space:

If the Great Blue Heron can read this, you’re too close.

It bears repeating: If the Great Blue Heron can read this, you’re too close. Every so often going back a decade or so, I feel compelled to caution folks that Herons need their space. In the past few weeks, I have seen several photos of Herons that had obviously been flushed by photographers. Flushing a Heron is not good, it is a rookie mistake – even if it makes for a dynamic photo. In fact, birding ethics organizations from Audubon to the US Fish & Wildlife Service almost all universally say avoid flushing birds. Don’t get too close.

People who know me know that my motto is “Walk softly and carry a long lens.™” It is important to give wildlife an extra-wide margin of personal space to not endanger them. I take precautions to remain hidden from their view, including use of telephoto lenses and natural-cover hides.

In taking hundreds of thousands of photos over a couple of decades, I can count on two hands the number of times I was within 10 feet of a Heron who could see me. Half of those times happened when I was hidden under a tree canopy and the Heron didn’t see my kayak and dropped down to land literally next to my boat. And one time was because I stepped in to protect the Heron from fishing lines.

This is a critical time in the life cycle of Great Blue Herons, when the Herons are getting ready to nest and create the next generations. This is the time of year when Herons can frequently be spotted, and when novice birders or photographers put them at risk by getting too close. Interrupt a nesting or feeding adult Great Blue, and the chicks may go without a meal. Interrupt a feeding fledgling could ultimately mean life or death for the bird.

As a photographer, ask yourself:
Did you get that perfect shot, but flushed the fledgling in the process?
How long will your friends and family remember your photo?
How long will the fledgling remember the meal he missed or the calories he wasted fleeing you? 
Maybe only that single meal, those much-needed calories were his tipping point between life and death.

The post below was an earlier PSA rant about endangering Herons. Please humor me again.

“… Eventually it all boils down to this: fifty-nine million years later, a caveman, one of a dozen on the entire world, goes hunting wild boar or saber-toothed tiger for food. But you, friend, have stepped on all the tigers in that region. By stepping on one single mouse. So the caveman starves.”

Ray Bradbury, “A Sound of Thunder,”
In “A Sound of Thunder and Other Stories

Great blue heron fledglings practicing 24 hours before they fledged.

Great blue herons practicing 24 hours before they fledged.

The sleek kayak had been tugged up into the shrubbery on the hillside just south of the keyhole bridge. No, wait, make that a sleek kayak and a custom canoe nestling there in the bushes. How odd.

I had noticed the same two paddlers the day before, farther north. How could a person not notice their high-end boats and expert-looking water skills?

Fast forward a day, and there were those boats again, cruising the southern waters.  The two men beached their custom-made canoe on the tiny nesting island. I quickly paddled my kayak over and explained to them about the great blue heron nest and the eggs that were due to hatch within the next 10 days. They replied, “OK, we’re outta here,” and left right away. Success!

Keyhole tunnel portal to the southern waters.

Keyhole tunnel portal to the southern waters.

I should have expected that something was afoot when I noticed a white flag hanging off the promontory southwest of the keyhole tunnel the next morning, it wasn’t there the day before. I should have connected it to the two expert paddlers, but didn’t grasp what it foreshadowed.

The next morning, I was enroute to the secluded shady hide along the western shoreline, thinking to pull in and read a book while munching a bagel for breakfast, when I noticed a man in a red kayak heading for the island. I wanted to warn him off, and so spun my kayak around. As I was about to aim towards him, a red canoe came out of nowhere, making a beeline for the island, the woman in front paddling harder and faster than I’d ever seen in a canoe.

I intercepted them, positioning my kayak in their path and they started to curve around me back towards the island. By this time, the man in the red kayak had meandered around the island and maybe 20 yards to the south, not threatening the island, so I focused on the red canoe and explained to the woman that they needed to steer clear of the island due to the nesting herons and chicks that should be hatching soon. She got the message and she and her partner gave the island and nest a wide birth and paddled in the direction of the east shore. Whew.

Next, I paddled south of the island and to the shady hide on the opposite shore,  and turned around to face the island before settling in, when I noticed a green canoe perilously close to the east side of the island, within a foot of the shore, ducking under some tunnel-like branches and then exiting and paddling farther east.

Curious about their odd behavior, I got out the binoculars and saw something hanging from one of the lowest branches on that side of the island. There was a flash of red, and I remembered seeing it Saturday afternoon when I had dissuaded the two men in a canoe from hanging out there – the two who said to me “we’re outta here.” I thought it was red from the baseball cap one of the men was wearing yesterday. But maybe it wasn’t that at all.

By this point, the man in the red kayak had circled the island and was coming around the north side, very close, too close. I paddled up to him and explained about the nesting herons and incipient hatching. He took off his baseball cap, craned his head and neck backwards to look straight up into the trees at the nest, and then back down. He gave me a level gaze and laconically drawled “Well, I need to rest my kayak in a stable spot for a few minutes,” and pulled out a snack and settled in. Aaarrrgh, he was virtually at the base of the nesting tree, his red kayak shining like a beacon that the adult herons couldn’t possibly fail to notice.

I paddled back towards the west because there was now another green canoe heading straight for the island. I paddled alongside and explained to the young woman in front that they needed to steer clear of the island due to the nesting birds, and – to my relief and gratitude – they headed much farther south.

Then, I circled the south side of the island and ducked into the tree tunnel and saw the red thing. There was a plastic ribbon sash circling a low branch, the red ends flapping down about six inches. Suspended from a white cord was a sort of rectangular card with a large number written prominently on it. The cord was wrapped around the neck of the top of a cut-off white plastic milk-bottle with the another number hand-written on it, such that about five inches of the milk-bottle top was suspended mid-air about three feet above the surface of the water. I thought maybe it was a trap for mosquitoes – they sometimes try to detect virus-carrying mosquitoes with traps, but an open-bottomed milk bottle wouldn’t be a very effective trap.

Putting one and one together, I deduced that it was some sort of scavenger hunt.

A scavenger hunt using the nesting island as a way station.

I was, and still am, horrified.

Even though I had explained to the men who placed the scavenger hunt apparatus in the shrubs about the federally protected herons sitting on eggs in a nest on the tiny island, they chose the island as part of their game. Even though I explained about the eggs about to hatch to the man in the red kayak, even though he looked directly up at the heron’s nest, he still chose to park his boat on the island shore for his snack.

I cut down the offending dangling plastic red sash and the milk bottle apparatus, and as I pulled it into the boat I noticed some sort of red plastic fob dangling from the bottom, sort of like a very large clothespin or something strange. I had no idea what it was, probably a weight to keep things from blowing in the wind, and I pulled that into the kayak too, and stashed it all behind the seat back with my sneakers and socks. In that instant, in my own small way, I understood what Greenpeace might feel like.

I then quietly, nonchalantly paddled southeast a bit and circled back to the front of the island. As I was doing this, a silver-haired couple wearing circa 1960 vinyl PFDs proclaiming Boy Scout Troop NNNN was bearing down hard and fast on the island in an ancient silver aluminum canoe. I explained to the woman that they couldn’t approach the island because of the nesting birds and eggs due to hatch and I thought they were paying attention to me, but I was mistaken. They were heading closer and closer as they circled around to the back of the island.

In the meantime, I paddled up to the snacking man in the red kayak still beached on the island, literally to beseech him to leave before the heron abandons the nest. While I was trying to talk to him, the silver canoe came upon me from behind and rear-ended my boat. Outrageous lack of seamanship on a 700-acre body of water. I asked them to get away from the island and again explained about the nest and what would happen if they got too close for too long and the adult herons abandoned the nest.

My heart was in my throat again and I paddled away from the island, heading west. I turned the boat around, and the lunkheads in the silver canoe were still there. I boldly waved my left arm in broad sweeping strokes motioning them all away from the island. And I kept on motioning them away.

The silver canoe then came right up to me and the woman asked me “Did you see the remote?”

I had no idea what she was talking about and so honestly said “no.” It was only after they paddled away that I realized that the red plastic fob on the end of the milk carton string behind my seat back must have been the “remote,” whatever a remote is.

Father great blue heron has fled the nest and watches anxiously from the tall pines.

Father great blue heron has fled the nest and watches anxiously from the tall pines.

I paddled to a secluded spot on the northern shoreline of south lake and relocated the milk carton and dangling fob on the branch of a different bush, far enough from the island to not be a concern for the herons, but close enough to their original placement to not make a huge difference in their little game.

As I raised the binoculars,  I could tell by then that the adult heron was not in the nest. Would the adult return? All I could do was watch and wait. 

I lost track of time, but it seemed an eternity. 

I headed west a little bit more, turned around, and there in the sky was the adult, making a nice big circle and a perfect landing on the nesting tree! He quickly got back into position on the nest and hunkered down.

By this point in the afternoon, the silver canoe was gone, the red kayak was a fair distance away, and I needed to head back for the day, and so I turned my kayak towards home.

Just then, a middle-aged woman in a tiny tan kayak with a big black dog wearing it’s own adorable PFD passed by. I remarked about her cuddly first mate and she said he couldn’t wait to get out of the boat.

I then realized that they were going very fast, straight for the island. I called to her and said you can’t go the island, there are nesting herons with chicks due to hatch soon and she replied, “I’m doing an orienting weekend. I need to get to the remote.”

And on she paddled towards the island, as my blood ran cold. I could only imagine the havoc her dog would cause romping about the island floor.

If you’ve been following this blog, you already know that the eggs hatched, the two heron chicks fledged and they have both successfully migrated, fall and spring, and found their way back to their home at the lake. I am in awe of how they did that.

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.

Between mid-June, 2012, when the above story took place, and August 12, 2012, when the herons fledged for good, there were many – too many – instances of human encroachment at the nesting island. The father heron in particular would leave the nest, and watch anxiously from tall pines across the channel.

Whenever I noticed people landing on the island, or venturing too close and jeopardizing the herons’ survival, I’d try to educate them, and often shared my binoculars to let them see the beauty of the herons.

Fellow photographers were often the worst offenders, so eager to get closer and closer to get that “perfect shot” of the baby birds.

What is the cost of people being careless or disrespectful in nature?

If you’re a nature lover, birder, photographer, boater, whatever, take a minute and read Ray Bradbury’s short story “A Sound of Thunder,” and imagine that instead of a  butterfly, it’s a great blue heron.

And after your next nature outing, how would you answer these:

Did you and your children have a wonderful nature walk, but did the fledgling flush as your toddler squealed and clapped in delight at seeing the pretty birdie?

Did you and your group have a great afternoon orienteering, but did the mother heron veer away while taking fish back to the chicks because you ventured too close to the nest?

Did you and your friends have a fun time waterskiing, but did the father heron abandon his brood when your boat circled the nesting island too close one time too many?

Did you get that perfect shot, but flushed the fledgling in the process?

How long will your friends and family remember your photo? The waterskiing, orienteering, that particular nature walk?

How long will the fledgling remember the meal he missed or the calories he wasted fleeing you? 

Maybe only that single meal, those much-needed calories were his tipping point between life and death.

Read “A Sound of Thunder.”

Imagine that instead of a  butterfly, it’s a magnificent great blue heron.

Don’t be “that guy.”

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Here are some great resources for birding/photography ethics:

The Jerk – ABA Blog by Ted Lee Eubanks

ABA Code of Birding Ethics

About the tagline of this post, it’s a bumper sticker I’d love to see:

“If the Heron Can Read This, You’re Too Close”

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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 unfolding 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, it seems my sentiment from only two three months ago has fallen on deaf ears. I pray that it is not too late to turn the tides of war.

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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.

Great Blue Herons at TCAN Lobby Nbr 2 One-Woman Show January-February 2022 - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Herons at TCAN Lobby Nbr 2 One-Woman Show January-February 2022 – babsjeheron

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.
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Cee Neuner, Debbie Smythe, Mama Cormier, 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.

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Thanks to Cee for her CFFC: Birds. Anybody see any birds around here?
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Thanks to Debbie for her One Word Sunday: Symmetry. The two photos of the Heron fledglings are symmetrical.
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Thanks to Mama Cormier for her Thursday Trios. The panel of three mirror-image Heron fledglings is a trio, even if today isn’t Thursday.
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 190: Close and Closer.
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 190: Close and Closer .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 190: Close and Closer .

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From Anne Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 190: Close and Closer .
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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 190: Close and Closer.
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From John Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 190: Close and Closer.

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Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District logo

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!

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.

My brick & mortar presence in Massachusetts dates back to 2009 in several local venues/galleries.

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick – Current one-woman photography show through February 2022
.
Natick Town Hall – Current group exhibit thru June 2022
.
Five Crows Gallery in Natick – Represented since 2013
.
Audubon Sanctuary
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Be a fly on the wall! Please CLICK HERE to see the Great Blue Herons gracing the gallery walls.
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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2022 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick

Read the rest of this entry

Beautiful Great Blue Herons… Role Reversal?

Great Blue Heron Portrait BW - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Portrait BW – babsjeheron

The eastern-most end of the cove is the feeding ground and roosting spot for one of the older Great Blue Herons. He is very wary and gorgeous, and it’s always a thrill to see him here, wading, foraging for fish or sunning himself on the overturned willow that came down the year before.

That day, I visited a couple hours earlier than prime feeding time, and so he wasn’t about. That made an opportunity to paddle in closer.

Right stroke… left stroke… right blade planted shallowly… now a broad arc around the white blossoms… left stroke… gliding straight now, past the lily pads… Gliding… Gliding… Gliding up to the fallen willow where he often preens.

Look! A big blue-grey flight feather floating there, a downy belly feather tuft, too. And beyond the willow, paddling deeper to where it stops being cove and starts being brook. What’s the name of that blue flower? Must look it up. This is where the yellow daisies bloomed last fall, it must be.

The water level was much higher than ever. How deeply I can paddle without bottoming out, or getting stuck, like that previous summer. That was a long slow slog back out.

Mustn’t tarry too long here, but what a beautiful place. Serene, still, and so many wild flowers, lush ferns. He may be back soon…

Right paddle planted deep, hard stroke left, bring the boat around sharply. Yes, like that. Stroke… Glide… Stroke… Glide… Glide… Stroke, stroke, stroke.

There! Back in neutral territory, away from his space. Can rest now, and cruise along on the breeze. Floating… Floating…

I’m hungry. Where’s a good picnic spot? Ah, right here: not too close to the trees, a little shade, still waters, a good place for a floating lunch. Paddle leashed and propped ‘cross the cockpit. Lunch bag open. Hot tea, warm oatmeal – maple syrup and brown sugar.

Mmmm. That was very good. Satisfying in the fresh air. Well, time to head in. Close the tea mug, stow the lunch containers, don the gloves, paddle ready.

Wait, what’s that on the island shore? Hunkered down? Watching me…

Watching me…

Watching me?

Later that evening, just after dusk, back at home.

“How was your outing, dear?”

“Oh, so lovely. There were many Dragonflies – tasty and I love how their wings tickle on my tongue…

“And so many sunfish – the smallish ones, not so many bones. Did you ever notice how iridescent they are? If you hover your wings just so over the water so the sun gets that glowy filtering while you stir the bottom just right with your left foot, they’re much easier to see… and to catch.

“But the most unusual thing happened. I was out at the cove, wading along the small island shore when I saw it, right before my eyes. A human…

“I watched in silence for the longest time.

“It is not so rare to see a human in the cove, and there’s one who sometimes watches me when I’m down at the end, where its more brook than cove. You know the place. She thinks I’m not aware of her presence, but I am. I just let her think that.

“I sometimes put on a show for her, preening, stretching my neck far back to get at that itchy spot right over my left shoulder. Or extending my wings half open, down low.

“And I love to show her how to fish. How to be patiently still, toeing the water beneath the surface imperceptibly, watching for the telltale glint of a fin, swish of a tail…

“Whoosh, thrust, submerge, a clean strike. The trout is mine!

“And I surface, wriggling trout speared. A beauty.

“Usually I just wolf it down, but sometimes – sometimes – I want to show her. And so gradually I step and turn and stand there so she can see what a beauty I have caught. What a beauty I am.

“She loves to watch me feeding from a distance.

“And today?

“Today I watched a human in my cove…

“A human… feeding.

“They have curious feeding rituals, humans do.”

Accidental double exposure of a Great Blue Heron fishing in the waterfall - B&W - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Accidental double exposure of a Great Blue Heron fishing in the waterfall – B&W – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Accidental Multiple Exposure – babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Accidental Multiple Exposure – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Eyes Bumble Bee for Lunch – babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Eyes Bumble Bee for Lunch – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Feathers in a Clump – babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Feathers in a Clump Below a Nest– babsjeheron

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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.

Great Blue Herons at TCAN Lobby Nbr 2 One-Woman Show January-February 2022 - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Herons at TCAN Lobby Nbr 2 One-Woman Show January-February 2022 – babsjeheron

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.
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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 unfolding 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, it seems my sentiment from only two three months ago has fallen on deaf ears. I pray that it is not too late to turn the tides of war.

Cee Neuner, Debbie Smythe, Mama Cormier, 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 Tina is “Odds and Ends.” Tina wrote ‘I don’t know about you, but there are images in my archives that will never fit into a challenge category. They don’t tie together in any cohesive way, but they keep calling to be included. This week, let’s embrace their differences and focus on our “Odds and Ends”.’ Some of my photos today are definitely odd. Great Blue Heron having a Bumble Bee for lunch? Unusual clump of Heron feathers in a ball? Accidental multiple exposures? All unusual!

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Thanks to Cee for her CFFC: Birds. Anybody see any birds around here?
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Thanks to Cee for her FOTD: Flower of the Day. The Bumble Bee is sipping nectar on a blooming Pickerel Weed flower.
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Thanks to Debbie for her Six Word Saturday: What’s Going on in St. Albans?. Filming Wonka!!
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Thanks to Mama Cormier for her Thursday Trios. There is a trio of triptychs in my post today!
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 189: Odds and Ends.
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 189: Odds and Ends .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 189: Odds and Ends .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 189: Odds and Ends .
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From Anne Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 189: Odds and Ends .
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From John Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 189: Odds and Ends .

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Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District logo

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 – Current one-woman photography show through February 2022
.
Natick Town Hall – Current group exhibit thru June 2022
.
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™

© 2003-2022 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick

Read the rest of this entry

Beautiful Great Blue Herons Peaceful Muse

Great Blue Heron Launching into Flight (Square Version) - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Launching into Flight (Square Version) – babsjeheron

The man sat cross-legged on the sidewalk that skirted the perimeter along the water’s edge. In his lap, a pen and notebook. Pressed against his glasses, the eyepiece of an antique spyglass. Someone else might have used a modern telescope.

Herons are ancient, their ancestors appearing 40 million years ago, and so it seemed fitting for him to have an old spyglass trained on the nesting island, instead of a newfangled telescope.

He was alternately looking through the eyepiece and jotting down notes in his book when I walked around the bend. We were strangers, but curiosity got the better of me and I interrupted his writing to ask what he was looking at.

“Great Blue Herons. Mothers and chicks, in nests on the island. There are about 60 pairs of Herons nesting on the island.”

I shyly asked if I could take a quick peek, and in the instant my own eye peered through the spyglass, an entirely new world opened up. It was stunning. I was left wordless by the first vision of an adult with a chick – the graceful curve of the adult’s neck, their golden eyes, subtly shaded grey-blue feathers, the adorable cap feathers of the fluffy chick, all of it.

And thus it deepened, the beginnings of my love affair with Great Blue Herons. Those first images seen through an antique spyglass are etched indelibly in my mind, and in my heart. It was the day I met my Muse, the Heron.

Great Blue Herons' rookery island in falling snow just after sunrise - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Herons’ rookery island in falling snow just after sunrise – babsjeheron

Reflection of Herons' nesting island in winter - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Reflection of Herons’ nesting island in winter – babsjeheron

Can you count the Great Blue Herons' nests on the island in this satellite view? - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Can you count the Great Blue Herons’ nests on the island in this satellite view? – babsjeheron

More than 30 great blue heron nests are shown on the island - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

More than 30 great blue heron nests are shown on the island – babsjeheron

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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.

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

Great Blue Herons at TCAN Lobby January & February 2022 – babsjeheron

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.

Some of the images from my January February 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, 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 unfolding 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, it seems my sentiment from only two months ago has fallen on deaf ears. I pray that it is not too late to turn the tides of war.

Cee Neuner, Debhie Smyth, Becky B, 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 guest-hosted by Karina is “A Special Place.” I have included four images of our amazing Great Blue Heron rookery island as one place that is special to me, as plus another very special place – my beloved Center for Arts Natick – TCAN.

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Thanks to Cee for her Hunt for joy. I don’t know if this challenge is still on, but I really like the idea of searching for joy. This Heron has brought great joy.
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Thanks to Becky for her The Square Odds challenge. What fun tennis photos from Becky.
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Thanks to Debbie for her Six Word Saturday: May your Moustache Grow Like Brushwood. Apparently that expression is Mongolian for Gesundheit. Who knew?
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From Karina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 188: A Special Place .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 188: A Special Place.
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 188: A Special Place .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 188: A Special Place .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 187: Water .

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Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District logo

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 – Current one-woman photography show through February 2022
.
Natick Town Hall – Current group exhibit thru June 2022
.
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™

© 2003-2022 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick
Read the rest of this entry

Great Blue Herons Guest…Graceful Egret

Graceful Egret Preening - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Graceful Egret Preening – babsjeheron

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

Isn’t the above Egret graceful and serene, also an image of patience and grace?

I have written so frequently that Herons are a study in Patience and Grace that it’s almost a mantra.

“But, but…” you might say – that bird pictured above isn’t a Heron at all!

And you would be mistaken, like so many of us. The kind experts at Rolling Harbour Abaco weigh in decisively with some interesting history for fellow bird geeks:

The Great Egret is actually a heron rather than an egret. It’s a Great Heron. All egrets are members of the heron family Ardeidae, but the converse is not true. As long ago as 1758, Linnaeus awarded the bird the binomial name Ardea alba i.e. ‘Heron white‘. Why it should have been so hard to stick to that authoritative nomenclature, I can’t imagine. Perhaps in time all heron and egret species became so hopelessly confusing for people that it ceased to matter much what they were called.

Great Egrets Noble Yet Misnamed Herons


by Rolling Harbour Abaco

“All egrets are members of the heron family Ardeidae, but the converse is not true.”

So, this is like squares and rectangles, isn’t it? All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares.

I know Becky B gets it!

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The Great Blue Herons are gracing the gallery walls through February 24th (my birthday) for a one-woman all-Heron show at the Summer Street Gallery, of The Center for Arts in Natick.

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

Great Blue Herons at TCAN Lobby January & February 2022 – babsjeheron

“Why Great Blue Herons?” I have been often asked. The poet William Stafford answers it best:

When I Met My Muse

I glanced at her and took my glasses
off–they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. “I am your own
way of looking at things,” she said. “When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation.” And I took her hand.

When I Met My Muse
by William Stafford
Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems of William Stafford

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 to see the Great Blue Herons. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.

The gallery is open whenever the box office is open, so please check hours here.

And who knows, maybe I’ll see you there one day.

I’d like that.

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.

Cee Neuner, Debhie Smyth, Becky B, 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 Anne is “Water.” Probably 80% of my posts include water, why should today be any different.

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Thanks to Cee for her CBWC: Rocks, Boulders, Stones.
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Thanks to Becky for her The Square Odds challenge. Yes, it’s hip to be square!
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Thanks to Debbie for her Six Word Saturday: Sometimes Her Highness’ Finger Goes Missing.
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From Anne Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 187: Water .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 187: Water .
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 187: Water .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 187: Water .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 187: Water .

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Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District logo

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!

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.

My brick & mortar presence in Massachusetts dates back to 2009 in several local venues/galleries.

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick – Current one-woman photography show through February 2022
.
Natick Town Hall – Current group exhibit thru June 2022
.
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™

© 2003-2022 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick, Egret
Read the rest of this entry

Romancing the Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Herons pair bonding - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Herons pair bonding – babsjeheron

During a break in nest building, the Great Blue Heron pair enhanced their bond with courtship moves so intimate I imagined hearing the soft refrains of that old chestnut “I only have eyes for you, dear.”

“Our love must be some kind of kind of blind love.
I can’t see anyone but you.


Are the stars out tonight?
I don’t know if it’s cloudy or bright.
I only have eyes for you, dear…”

A. Dubin, H. Warren
I Only Have Eyes for You

“I Only Have Eyes for You” is a gem of a tune. This chestnut has been performed by a who’s who of musicians, including The Flamingos, Sinatra & Count Basie, Rod Stewart, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Mathis, Carly Simon, Louis Armstrong, Oscar Peterson, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and more…

But the best ever version in my opinion is this very sweet Art Garfunkle cover. Trust me on that.

This next trio of frames taken during a break in nest building that day shows the obvious connection between the mated pair of Great Blue Herons.

The Herons engage each other during a break in nest building - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

The Herons engage each other during a break in nest building – babsjeheron

Nest building had been completed four weeks earlier and the Great Blue Heron eggs were due to hatch any moment. The suspense was mounting daily – would this be the day? And then one day, the female swooped back to the nest bearing a small stick. How sweet, I thought to myself – a token of her affection for her mate, who was hunkered down on the eggs.

Four weeks after mating, a Great Blue Heron returns to the nest and presents a stick to the mate, hunkered down atop the eggs about to hatch - babsjeheron   © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Four weeks after mating, a Great Blue Heron returns to the nest and presents a stick to the mate, hunkered down atop the eggs about to hatch – babsjeheron

It was a touching, tender moment to behold. They only had eyes for each other while courting, but even once they got down to the business of incubating the eggs, their pair bonding efforts persisted, with lavish greeting displays when one returned to the nest, occasional preening (allopreening) of each other, and more. I had watched their courtship and nest building four weeks earlier, but there was something special about seeing her bring that twig back to the male in the nest. I had never before seen them take little gifts like this small stick back to the nest. How sweet.

I am still smitten by their deep bonding, their dedication to each other and their nest.

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Great Blue Herons & me!

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

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

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

TCAN One-Woman Show January 2022 Front Lobby Trio © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

TCAN One-Woman Show January 2022 Front Lobby Trio

My Great Blue Heron photographs are 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.

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 to see the Great Blue Herons. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.

The gallery is open whenever the box office is open, so please check hours here.

And who knows, maybe I’ll see you there one day.

I’d like that.

.
.

Cee Neuner, Debhie Smyth, Becky B, 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.

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.

Thanks to Cee for her CFFC: Square Odds and Thursday Trios.
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Thanks to Becky for her The Square Odds challenge. Yes, it’s hip to be square!
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Thanks to Becky also for her Square Odds Gallery which showcases some delightful images from many interesting photographers.

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Thanks to Debbie for her One Word Sunday: Even.
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Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District logo

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 – Current one-woman photography show through February 2022
.
Natick Town Hall – Current group exhibit thru June 2022
.
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™

© 2003-2022 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick, Pink Flamingo
Read the rest of this entry

Great Blue Herons Guest…Pink Flamingo?

Great Blue Heron Fledgling in Territorial Display - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great blue heron in territorial display by boat garden – babsjeheron

A favorite location for photographing Herons is the sunken boat garden shown in the above photo. Each year, the property owners plant something different. One year the boat contained tubs of cherry tomatoes that looked delectable when fully ripe, the bright red of the fruit promising sweetness. In other years, the focus is flowers, like the gladiolus you see in the top photo.

Every year, it’s a treat to explore that area of the lake to see what has been planted, and to try for Heron photos with the boat garden. Photographing them there is tricky for a couple of reasons. The angle of the sun is good for only a short while each day; it’s in the shadows in the morning and for much of the afternoon the light is too bright and harsh. Even when the light is good, of course there’s no guarantee that there will be any Herons plying that section of the cove.

This square image shows only a smattering of changes to the boat garden that I have photographed over the years, including the variety of flowers and even the paint job to the boat, itself.

Boat Garden Through Years - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Boat Garden Through Years – babsjeheron
Top Left – 2009, Top Right – 2011, Middle Left – 2011, Middle Right – 2015, Bottom Left – 2017, Bottom Right – 2018

To the south of the boat garden is an idyllic area of the shoreline: two hammocks suspended out over the water look so inviting on sweltering August afternoons. Next door is a tableau of Adirondack chairs gathered near a fire pit, and I can imagine lounging in a hammock while dinner sizzling nearby teases my senses. While my favorite elements of nature are always the wild and untrammeled ones, this section of the shoreline is a place I’d love to inhabit for an evening or three, lazing in one of the hammocks, with fireflies twinkling around the flowers and the scent of dinner wafting from the grill. And a Great Blue Heron, there would be a Heron there, too.

Great blue heron exploring the shoreline near suspended hammocks - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron exploring the shoreline near suspended hammocks – babsjeheron

On this day, I was in luck – there was a yearling Great Blue Heron foraging along the shore to the north of the boat garden. Most Great Blues follow a consistent direction when fishing along the shore. Just like “mall walkers” who get their exercise by walking a circuit around a mall before the shops open, Herons generally pick a direction and follow that direction. That day, it was looking good because the yearling was heading down the shore in the direction of the boat garden.

I settled the kayak into a secluded spot and set up to photograph the Heron when it neared the boat garden. And then I waited.

Sometimes no matter how well a photographer plans, the model has others ideas, and this was one of those times. The Heron lazily worked his way up to the boat and just when I was ready for shots of the Heron moving along in front of the boat, it ducked behind the stern, instead, and proceeded south, obscured by the towering gladiolus in the boat!

All was not lost, I thought to myself, maybe the Heron would do something photogenic by the hammocks or the Adirondack chairs and fire pit while the light was still good. I shifted my focus in that direction and waited for the Heron to catch up. Totally unaware of the fledgling Great Blue Heron beside the boat garden stalking him with increasing speed and determination, the yearling Heron plied the shoreline. Perhaps it was his curiosity about the fire pit on the lake-front beach that led him to put his guard down?

Great Blue Heron yearling investigates a fire pit - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron yearling investigates a fire pit – babsjeheron

It was looking promising for some photos with the chairs, and I had started firing off a few when I heard a slight rustle overhead. I looked up and saw a fledgling Great Blue Heron perching on a limb directly over the beach where the other Heron was curiously investigating the fire pit.

The fledgling swooped out of the canopy and landed just to the north of the boat garden and suddenly took on a territorial posture. I have blogged here in the past about fledgling herons in the nest playfully practicng various displays (click here and here) but this was the first time I had seen a fledgling put a genuine territorial display to use against an older, larger Heron in a shoreline situation.

Back feathers erect, such as they were at this point in the fledgling’s development, the fledgling strutted down the shore towards the yearling, who was engrossed with the fire pit. A few moments after the photo shown above, though, the older Heron caught sight of the aggressive fledgling bearing down on him and burst from the sand out over the water, heading southwest.

Fledgling great blue heron taking flight near boat garden - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Fledgling Great Blue Heron taking flight near boat garden – babsjeheron

The fledgling, having proved his mettle and securing both the beach and his status as an alpha bird, relaxed his pose and spent several minutes exploring the boat garden before eventually flying off to the north.

What a thrilling experience that day, to see a very young Great Blue Heron assert dominance over an older and larger Heron.
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And when I take photos like this, I often wonder if the property owners have any idea about the Herons’ visits that make their beautiful stretch of shore even more lovely.

The one very odd boat garden installation over all of the years has no plants, just this solitary Plastic Flamingo.

Plastic Flamingo in Boat Garden - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Plastic Flamingo in Boat Garden – babsjeheron

I have sometimes wondered if that Flamingo was intended as a “scarecrow” figure, to keep the Herons away? I hope not.
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Once again, the Great Blue Heron diving beneath the water’s surface is gracing gallery walls.

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

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

TCAN One-Woman Show January 2022 Front Lobby Trio © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

TCAN One-Woman Show January 2022 Front Lobby Trio

My Great Blue Heron photographs are 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.

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 to see the Great Blue Herons. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.

The gallery is open whenever the box office is open, so please check hours here.

And who knows, maybe I’ll see you there one day.

I’d like that.

.
.

Cee Neuner, Debhie Smyth, Becky B, 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 John is “Change.” This post chronicles many changes to the picturesque sunken boat at the lake.
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Thanks to Cee for her FOTD: Flower of the Day. I wish I knew the names of all of the flowers in my photos.
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Thanks to Becky for her The Square Odds challenge. Is that Pink Flamingo odd or what?

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Thanks to Debbie for her Six Word Saturday. Sometimes Known as Sir Paul’s Cathedral.
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 185: Change .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 185: Change .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 185: Change .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 185: Change .
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From John Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 185: Change .

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Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District logo

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 – Current one-woman photography show through February 2022
.
Natick Town Hall – Current group exhibit thru June 2022
.
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™

© 2003-2022 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick, Pink Flamingo
Read the rest of this entry

Great Blue Herons Dam Love Letter

Great Blue Heron at the Dam - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron at the Dam – babsjeheron

It is very easy to become absorbed – too absorbed – by the scene unfolding through the lens. One day, I came face to face with a different danger facing photographers who become too absorbed by the scene within their viewfinder: I was so engrossed with following the Great Blue Heron through my lens that I nearly stepped over the edge into clear air. Every couple of years, we read news stories of people falling off cliffs or going into waterfalls while taking photos. The day I took the above photo, I learned how easily that can happen. One more step, and I would have been in the water below the falls.

Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.

― Lao Tzu

Great Blue Heron Balanced on Fish Ladder - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Balanced on Fish Ladder – babsjeheron

Water – fluid and soft – does indeed wear away rigid, unyielding substances. Look closely at the right-hand side of the above photo of the beautiful Great Blue Heron balancing on the fish ladder. Do you see the small torrent cascading through the sidewall of the ladder? We don’t often think of concrete as being fragile, but it is susceptible to the forces of water.

Plans are in the works to replace – or even remove – the dam over the Charles River and perhaps also the associated lovely park that is a gem of the community, frequented by families and artists and photographers for generations.

The experiences shown here today are a love letter to that special place, told in photos.

Great Blue Heron Fishing at Fish Ladder - babsjeheron © 2018 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Fishing at Fish Ladder – babsjeheron

For more than an hour, the Great Blue Heron stalked a Salmon, climbing the fish ladder slowly, intently scanning the pooled water at the base of the dam, then pausing to rest, perched there on one leg. All the while, she faced away from the torrent gushing down the ladder behind her. I could see fish in the rushing waters and wondered if the Heron would shift her focus. Finally, she looked at the fish ladder right, and left no doubt at all about the fate of that Salmon. Fortunately for the Great Blue Heron, the ‘no fishing in fish ladder’ sign and policy don’t apply to Herons.

Great Blue Heron Catching Large Fish - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Catching Large Fish – babsjeheron

The purpose of the fish ladder is to give fish the means to travel upstream to their spawning ground, since they cannot jump over the dam along side the ladder. I have never observed any fish swimming up the ladder, but I have seen fish tumbling down. Which brings me back to Great Blue Herons. They love to wait at the base of the dam for unlucky fish swept over the edge. It’s not just water that cascades over the lip of this dam on the Charles River – the tug of gravity pulls with it hapless fish destined to become dinner for an eagle-eyed Great Blue Heron.

Great Blue Heron and Waterfall - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron and Waterfall – babsjeheron

The Charles River was in drought conditions in the above photo, with the usually-robust waterfall at the dam subdued to a trickle. Compare to the seething, frothing foam at the base of the dam shown next.

Great Blue Heron at the base of the dam  fishing - babsjeheron © 2016 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron at the base of the dam fishing – babsjeheron

Photography is a solitary endeavor for me, so imagine my dismay upon arriving at the Charles River dam one morning to see a big splash of color looming over the ancient grinding wheel across from the fish ladder. There would be no Great Blue Herons that day. Taking in the entire scene, though, dismay quickly turned to joy.

En Plein Air Painting at the Dam Nbr 2 - babsjeheron © 2020 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

En Plein Air Painting at the Dam Nbr 2 – babsjeheron

What came into view was first one, then two, then three, then four artists set up in 19th century vignettes with easels under brightly-colored umbrellas. They were spaced a good distance from each other, all with a differing vantage point of the river and dam and old stone bridge where the Herons fish. One of the painters in particular called to mind a scene from the mid-1800s as she gazed out over the lush water lilies floating above the dam, paints at the ready, paintbrush in hand.

En Plein Air Painting at the Dam Nbr 1 - babsjeheron © 2020 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

En Plein Air Painting at the Dam Nbr 1 – babsjeheron

Rosemary Morelli teaches painting including en plain air style at her studio in eastern Massachusetts. The artists painting at the dam that day were a few of her students.

The bridge in this photo below was constructed in the mid-19th century, around the same time that the cyanotype process came into vogue. There is a palpable timelessness to this location and the artists and easels enhanced that feeling. I can easily imagine a 19th century painter or photographer capturing an ancestor of one of the Great Blue Herons that frequent the area today.

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

Great Blue Heron – Charles River Blues Nbr 2 – In the Cyanotype Style – babsjeheron

I chose the above 19th century style cyanoprint series “Charles River Blues” for part of my current exhibit at TCAN because the Summer Street Gallery, itself, is from that same 19th century period.

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

Fledgling Great Blue Heron on Log at Dam – babsjeheron

The log teetered at the brink of the falling water (in the photo above), and I quickly positioned the camera to capture the moment it began the inevitable cascade over the brink. A shadow suddenly passed overhead in the morning drizzle, outside the range of my lens, and I looked up too late to see what it was. Only when peering through the eyepiece once again was the mystery solved: a fledgling Great Blue Heron was now perched atop the precarious log. It was the same Great Blue fledgling seen in that area weeks earlier. My heart sang to see him so healthy and strong.

Fish Ladder Freezing in January- babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Fish Ladder at the dam freezing in January- babsjeheron

Our winters can be harsh, as this weekend’s blizzard righteously reminded us, and my thoughts are drawn to reassuring scenes of the Great Blue Herons of warmer seasons. But what becomes of the fish ladder in winter? Above and below, a view in January. It was so cold, the splashing water froze when it bounced upwards and tried to stream over the edge.

Fish Ladder Freezing in January Detail - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Fish Ladder at the dam freezing in January, Detail – babsjeheron

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I do not know the ultimate fate of the dam and fish ladder and beautiful park, along with the beloved Herons who call that area home, but I hope Douglas Adams was onto something when he wrote:

There is no problem so complicated that you can’t find a very simple answer to it if you look at it right.
Douglas Adams
The Salmon of Doubt

Here’s hoping the powers that be are looking at things right.

It is difficult to envision what change will bring to the lovely park and dam when all is said and done. I like to keep the poem below in mind:

Life spreads itself across
the ceiling to make you think
you are penned in, but that
is just another gift. Life takes
what you thought you couldn’t live
without and gives you a heron instead.

On the Meaning of (excerpt)
Linda Back McKay

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

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

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

TCAN One-Woman Show January 2022 Front Lobby Trio © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

TCAN One-Woman Show January 2022 Front Lobby Trio

My Great Blue Heron photographs are 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.

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 to see the Great Blue Herons. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.

The gallery is open whenever the box office is open, so please check hours here.

And who knows, maybe I’ll see you there one day.

I’d like that.

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Cee Neuner, Debhie Smyth, 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 “Travel.” All of the photos on my blog were taken within 5 miles from home. I love that the beautiful Great Blue Herons spend part of their lives each year within the Charles River and Sudbury River watersheds. I’m very fortunate that my studies of them don’t require expensive travel to distant locations. And after this weekend’s blizzard, traveling to see the Herons at the dam “virtually” in photos was a delight.
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Thanks to Cee for her CBWC: Cold or Chilly. The water freezing as it cascaded in the fish ladder in January was definitely cold

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Thanks to Debbie for her Six Word Saturday. Don’t ask me, I’ve no idea.
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 184: Travel .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 184: Travel .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 184: Travel .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 184: Travel .

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Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District logo

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.

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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!

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My brick & mortar presence in Massachusetts dates back to 2009 in several local venues/galleries.

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick – Currently appearing one-woman photography show 2022
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Natick Town Hall – Current group exhibit thru June 2022
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Five Crows Gallery in Natick – Represented since 2013
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Audubon Sanctuary
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Be a fly on the wall! Please CLICK HERE to see the Great Blue Herons gracing the gallery walls.
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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2022 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick
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