Category Archives: Cee’s Black & White Challenge

Great Blue Heron’s Guest Bird of the Day: Beautiful Swan Taking a Bath

And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

The Swan, Excerpt.
Mary Oliver,
Swan: Poems and Prose Poems

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

Mute Swan Bathing Beauty – babsjeheron

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The secret is to stay present always, to not take nature for granted no matter how often we think we are seeing the same ol’ same ol’.

That Saturday, I was tired, and the journey back to the home dock would take another hour and a half. I had already bagged a fair number of Great Blue Heron captures and was eager to take out.

From a distance, I gave a passing glance at the southern shoreline and saw the usual pair of Mute Swans floating in their usual spot, and so I paddled on.

Rounding the curve below the Labs, coming closer to the Swans, I noticed an odd-looking thrashing and splashing unlike any Sawn behavior I’d seen before.

Binoculars up, I sat transfixed, watching from across the channel as one of the Swans took a Saturday bath. Amazing.

Many of us have seen Robins, or Warblers, or other small songbirds splashing about in a backyard garden birdbath. Now, imagine a bird with a 7-to-8 foot wingspan behaving just the same – dunking their head and neck fully below the surface, coming back up to shake off the water, rearing up on legs, wings akimbo flapping and expelling droplets galore, and preening, preening, preening to sort out feathers. The Swan’s bath lasted more than 15 minutes. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

And so, as I said before, the secret is to stay present always, to not take nature for granted no matter how often we think we are seeing the same ol’ same ol’.

View other large birds bathing: Red Tailed Hawks aka Beauteous Buteo and a Great Blue Heron aka Rubber Ducky You’re the One.
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For the months of September and October, the Great Blue Herons are featured on the walls of the Natick Town Hall, located at 13 East Central Street in Natick, MA. Feel free to stop in during office hours Monday thru Wednesday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm; Thursday 8:00 am – 7:00 pm; Friday 8:00 am – 12:30 pm
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From May 1 through July 11, 2018, my Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced 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. 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.

Thanks to Cee for her recent WPC: Black & White Challenge. The Mute Swan bathing beauty turned in gentle circles for more than 15 minutes taking that Saturday bath. It was mesmerizing. (And apologies to Cee for once again bending the rules.)

Thanks again to Paula for her earlier WPC: Black & White Sunday: Traces of the Past. This bridge and tunnel are from days gone by, using ingenious technology of the earlier era.
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Thanks to Erica V and WordPress for the recent WPC: Place in the World. My favorite place is where the Herons are, of course it is. And the Herons? Their place is near the water, but also on the gallery walls and my blog. How else can I share them with you?

Thanks also to Ben H and WordPress for their WPC Challenge: Liquid. The Herons are drawn to water, as am I.

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Through July 13, 2017 I was a Featured Artist at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area. Five Crows is on FaceBook.

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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2018 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, B&W

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Beautiful Great Blue Heron at the Keyhole Tunnel

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

Great Blue Heron at Keyhole Tunnel – babsjeheron

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For the months of September and October, the Great Blue Herons are featured on the walls of the Natick Town Hall, located at 13 East Central Street in Natick, MA. Feel free to stop in during office hours Monday thru Wednesday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm; Thursday 8:00 am – 7:00 pm; Friday 8:00 am – 12:30 pm
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From May 1 through July 11, 2018, my Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced 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. 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.

Thanks to Cee for her recent WPC: Black & White Challenge. The water had been smooth as glass until a passing pair of kayakers played through! (And apologies to Cee for once again bending the rules.)

Thanks again to Paula for her earlier WPC: Black & White Sunday: Traces of the Past. This bridge and tunnel are from days gone by, using ingenious technology of the earlier era.
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Thanks to Erica V and WordPress for the recent WPC: Place in the World. My favorite place is where the Herons are, of course it is. And the Herons? Their place is near the water, but also on the gallery walls and my blog. How else can I share them with you?

Thanks also to Ben H and WordPress for their WPC Challenge: Liquid. The Herons are drawn to water, as am I.

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Through July 13, 2017 I was a Featured Artist at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area. Five Crows is on FaceBook.

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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2018 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows

Great Blue Heron’s Salmon Fishing Prequel (Not Art Nbr 17)

© 2018 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Fishing at Fish Ladder – babsjeheron

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

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When last we saw her at the fish ladder, the Great Blue Heron had snared a large Salmon from the base of the torrent.

For more than an hour, she had stalked the Salmon, climbing the fish ladder slowly, intently scanning the pooled water at the base of the dam.

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

Great Blue Heron Catching Large Fish – babsjeheron

The Charles River was in drought conditions, with the usually-robust waterfall at the dam subdued to a trickle. The fish ladder, however, cascaded mightily. The Heron’s wings-akimbo balancing act paid off as she teetered at the edge of the fish ladder long enough to land lunch.

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

Great Blue Heron Has Gone Fishing – babsjeheron

Fortunately for the Great Blue Heron, the ‘no fishing in fish ladder’ policy doesn’t apply to wildlife.
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Thanks to Cee N and WordPress for her Black and White Challenge: Birds.

Thanks again to Erica V and WordPress for the recent WPC: Place in the World. My favorite place in the world is on the water with the beloved Great Blue Herons.
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From May 1 through July 11, 2018, my Great Blue Heron photographs once again grace 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. 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.
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Through July 13, 2017 I was a Featured Artist at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area. Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2018 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows

Beautiful Great Blue Heron in the Forest

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

Beautiful Great Blue Heron in the Forest

Any Great Blue Heron nestlings that have survived this long would be grown enough by now to be left alone in their nests, and so both parents can be found foraging. On this day, both male and female Great Blue Herons plied the shore – separately. No longer together now that nesting is done, the male becomes territorial about his feeding grounds, and will aggressively chase off the female or offspring.

So, I was not surprised at the high-velocity chase scene that unfolded when first the kayak slipped out of the tunnel that morning. The female flew directly overhead in a burst of feathers, and banked to the northwest out of sight. The male caught sight of the kayak and swiftly reversed course, heading back, deeper into the cove.

What did surprise me was this: the male in the photo here is not the ‘usual’ one that inhabits that cove. It is an adult male with breeding plumes, but younger and with very different markings than the usual male that “owns” that patch of shoreline,

So, a mystery. Does our female Great Blue Heron have a new mate? Or was this younger male just an interloper? Stay tuned. Time – and more photos – will tell.

I love a good mystery!

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Thanks to Cee for hosting Cee’s Black & White Challenge. This tree is clearly older than 50 years, the Heron? I wish they could live to be 50, but as far as I am aware, early 20’s may be the record for a Great Blue

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

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

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2015 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron

Beautiful Great Blue Heron at the Waterfall

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

Great Blue Heron at our Waterfall

It is very easy to become absorbed – too absorbed – by the scene unfolding through the lens.

I’ve written in the past about one of the dangers facing photographers – the way technology can get in the way of “experiencing” what is happening now, how we as photographers can miss the moment IN the moment by working so hard to preserve the scene for future viewing. Back then, I wrote

Suddenly, I wished I had brought a camera, and then just as quickly, I dismissed that wish – had the camera been there, I would have missed that experience. Instead of sharing stillness with the heron, I would have been absorbed in things like aiming and focusing and f-stops and bracketing and all of the composition things we do; by then the heron would have flown away, alarmed by my fidgeting with the gadgetry, and I would have missed the moment.

Yesterday, 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.

Now I know how easily that can happen.

One more step, and I would have been in the water below the falls.

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Thanks to Leanne Cole and Laura Mackey for hosting the Monochrome Madness challenge.

Thanks also to Cee for hosting Cee’s Black & White Challenge.

And thanks to Paula for hosting her Black & White Sunday. (My photo today has nothing to do with her topic this week – macro photography – but her offerings in b&w are striking.)

Lastly, thanks to Jen H and WordPress for the recent WPC Challenge: Motion. It was definitely a challenge to capture the motion in this scene: the cascading water sluicing over the rocks moved at a different pace than the water tumbling over the falls, and so keeping the focus sharp was tricky, and even moreso when the Great Blue Heron burst into flight.
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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

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

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2015 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron

Not Art Nbr 2: His Phantom Foot

When the birds
come to breakfast
some have lost
legs or feet
to the world,
and I give those more,
their lives
being difficult enough,
but I never
see the ones who have
lost wings.

470 Fidelity Agape (excerpt)

William Mealer
Alethea At Aphelion

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

One-legged Canada Goose

Five kayak outings in a row, the young Canada Goose has followed along as I ply the shores of the lake. He hadn’t joined the other gaggles of geese as they readied for migration south, and remained behind after their departure. Instead, he could be found in the company of the ducks in various coves or near the gulls congregating along the boat launch.

As the weeks drew on, several waves of geese migrating from farther north would briefly stop over at the lake – a way station on their route south – and the young goose would join along the fringe of the newcomers, but I noticed he always remained behind when they, too, headed south.

It was then, as autumn gave way to winter, and most of the ducks had migrated, that one day I noticed the young goose seemed to be following me about the lake.

The next day, I came across the goose near one of tunnels where the Great Blue Herons perch, pulling up greens from along the shore. By then, much of the vegetation had dried to straw, but that patch was still a vibrant green, and most days I would sight the goose there on my way to the north. And most days from then on, he would follow along behind the blue kayak, from middle lake into north lake, and back, then east into the shallow cove favored by the herons.

The weather here on Christmas was unexectedly warm for Massachusetts in December, near 60 degrees, and my gift to myself was an hour in the kayak, tucked deep in the slender cove, drinking hot coffee and eating a friend’s home-made cookies. Any my companion there? The young goose – delightful company.

Yesterday was again warm, and so once again I headed out on the water. Once again, the young goose was near that patch of greens. Once again, he followed me, at times paddling behind Blue Boat, at others circling around alongsides to port or starboard, at others pulling out ahead of my bow.

He seemed healthy enough, despite being an unusually solitary goose. His chest was plump, feathers abundant and glossy, eyes clear, tongue pink. The only thing amiss seemed to be a shallow, silver-dollar-sized wound at the back of his head where it joins the neck, but the short feathers there looked like they were growing back in just fine.

So why hadn’t he migrated with the others? I assumed he couldn’t fly, although I had seen him stretch out his wings once when he accidentally came to close to the kayak. It was only for a moment, and so my glimpse of the wings was brief, but I couldn’t see anything obvioulsy wrong with either wing.

It was a mystery, his flightlessness.

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

Canada Goose

At the end of the day yesterday, the young goose followed me back to the boathouse, and watched from the shallows as I beached the kayak. I wondered if he would flee in fear were I to stand up full height on shore, and so I slouched down to look smaller as I clambered out of the boat. Apparently that worked, and he simply paddled about in small circles, watching me all the while.

Then he started to preen, just like any other goose, tucking his head under first one wing, the the others, craning his neck over his should to reach his back feathers, nibbling at his tail.

And when he stood up, it hit me – the reason for his flightlessness. He stood there gracefully on his left leg, the stump of his right wavering slightly as he regained his balance, and settled in preening on one leg.

The photos in this post are clearly not “art” (they were taken with my phone). And even though they are not art, there is something curious about them. Look closely at the top photo here, do you see what I see floating on the surface of the water below the stump of his right leg? Doesn’t that reflected shape look like the reflection of an intact goose’s foot? His phantom foot?

It is remarkable how nimble he has been in paddling after me for miles all over the lake, how agile he looks standing on one leg preening, how healthy he seems to be apart from his missing foot. How endearing he is.

And even though these photos aren’t art, the young Canada Goose is.

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This week’s photo challenge is Warmth. Thanks to Ben H and WordPress for this topic.

Thanks to Paula for hosting her Black & White Sunday challenge.

Thanks to Cee for hosting her Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Circles and Curves.

Thanks also to Leanne Cole and Laura Mackey for hosting the Monochrome Madness challenge.
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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

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

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking

Who Needs a Time Machine?

1835 seems only a split-second ago.

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

Great blue heron poised under railroad bridge.

There are moments on the water when time falls away. This dark and drizzly day was one.

The great blue heron and I had the lake to ourselves – no powerboats with big wakes disrupting the smooth glide of the kayak, no fisherman on the rock slab interfering with the heron’s fishing.

The railroad bridge and tunnel date to around 1835. The photo isn’t one from the local historical society, of course, but I like to think that it could have been.

I like to think of generation after generation of great blue herons, all fishing from that same spot by the tunnel.

Fishing before my time began, fishing after my time has ended.

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Thanks to Shane Francescut and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Split-second Story.

Thanks to Paula for her new Black & White Sunday Non-Challenge.

Thanks to Cee for her Cee’s Black & White Challenge: 50 Years or Older.

Thanks to Leanne Cole for her Monochrome Madness Challenge.

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

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

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking

Llewellyn’s Grey Herons

And in the weedy moat the heron, fond
Of solitude, alighted.
The moping heron, motionless and stiff,
That on a stone, as silently and stilly,
Stood, an apparent sentinel, as if
To guard the water-lily.

Thomas Hood
The Haunted House, 1844

Embed from Getty Images
Piscator Nbr 2, by John Dillwyn Llewelyn, Albumen print, June 1856

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Today’s Daily Prompt from WordPress challenged us with the topic of something we can’t get out of our heads. That’s a no-brainer for me, as I admitted my obsession with herons long ago in I Have A Heron Monkey on My Back. Back then I wrote

With nearly a decade spent observing them, and more than 100,000 photos of them under my belt, could one say I’m addicted? Perhaps I do have a “monkey on my back,” but all for a good cause.

This affinity for herons is not limited to present-day experiences: I get excited by the discovery of archival heron photographs, and feel a connection to the early photographers who may also have been captivated by herons. Case in point, the two grey heron photographs by Welsh photographer John Dillwyn Llewelyn shown here, courtesy of Getty Images.

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Embed from Getty Images
Heron by John Dillwyn Llewelyn, 1856

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The thought of someone observing herons going on 200 years ago moves me, and I imagine a man caring enough to photograph them then, just as I do today.

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You can learn more about John Dillwyn Llewellyn here:
From a Forgotten Box, a Ray of Light
Daguerreotypes Spur Book on John Dillwyn Llewelyn

Thanks to WordPress for the Daily Prompt: Can’t Get it Out of My Head.

Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for the instructions on embedding Getty Images into blog posts.

Thanks to Ailsa for her Where’s My Backpack: Ancient prompt. (Compared to the Coliseum in Rome, this is not ancient. In terms of photographic technology, shots from the 1850’s are nearly ancient, coming just 30 years after the first reported nature photograph.)

Thanks to Cee for her Black & White Challenge: Big. (While the photos, themselves, are small, the heron is a very big bird. In addition, from a technical perspective, the exposure duration was big – Piscator Nbr 2 had an exposure of 20 minutes. I find it remarkable that the heron’s reflection in the water is so clear for such a long exposure.)

Thanks to Ese for her Weekly Shoot & Quote Photo Challenge: Wings. (I like how Ese frames her challenges with the pairing of a photo and a quote. In the case of Piscator Nbr 2, it was published in The Photographic Album of 1857 with an inscription that included the poem passage that I’ve placed at the start of this post. It is now in the collection of the George Eastman House.)

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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Grey Heron, John Dillwyn Llewelyn

Macro Monday Magnolia

From Blossoms

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

~ Li-Young Lee ~
From Blossoms (excerpt)
Rose (New Poets of America)

© 2004-2013 Babsje. (Http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Magnolia in B&W

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Thanks to the kind folks at NaBloPoMo for the National Blog Posting Month challenge this November.

Thanks once more to Ese for her Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge – Spread.

Thanks to Cee for her Black & White Challenge.

Thanks to Cee also for her Fun Foto Challenge. (There’s another subtle shadow for you, Cee.)

Thanks also to the kind folks at Macro Monday for the MacroMonday challenge.

Thanks as well to Laura who invited me to join I Heart Macro Week.

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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

(This took place April, 2004)

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

The Tao of Feathers

What is soft is strong.

Lao-Tzu
Tao Te Ching

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

Great blue heron feathers – B+W

There’s an exquisite intricacy to feathers, the sublime structures of individual feathers, as well as the interconnectedness of groups of feathers working together in harmony to make flight possible.

Individually, so soft.

Collectively, so strong.

What is soft is strong, indeed.

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While the magnificent wingspan of the great blue heron is spectacular, the beauty of heron feathers isn’t limited to the powerful wings. In an earlier post, I shared photos of other less prominent but still stunning feathers, some arranged in intricate patterns. (Please click here to catch up if you missed those earlier photos.)

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Thanks once more to Ese for her Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge – Intricate.

Thanks again to the kind folks at NaBloPoMo for the National Blog Posting Month challenge this November.

Thanks to Ailsa for the Weekly Travel Theme: Delicate.

Thanks also to Skinnywench for the Word a Week Challenge: Two.

Thanks to Cee also for her B&W Challenge: Close-ups, Macro.

Thanks again to Stewart Moncton for the Wild Bird Wednesday prompt.

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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

(This took place May, 2013)

The Tao of Feathers™

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

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