Category Archives: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

Beautiful Great Blue Heron’s Environmental Protection Gig

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

Great Blue Carrying Huge Plastic Bag – babsjeheron

When last we saw our plucky Heron heroine, her young suitor was about to challenge her for the huge plastic bag she had pulled from the muck along the shore. (Click here to read about the cleanup in the cove if you missed the earlier posts.)

In this photo, she’s carrying it as she starts her march out of the cove.

I wish I could say that she was carrying it voluntarily, but I cannot: the plastic was hooked securely on her lower bill.
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Thanks to Cee for her recent Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Good & Bad. It’s very GOOD that this Great Blue Heron did her part to remove that huge plastic bag from the cove at the lake. It’s looking very BAD, however, for the National Park Service and environmental science lately.

Thanks to Ailsa for her Weekly Travel Theme: March. Yes, the Heron is female, and yes, she is starting to march away with the plastic bag, and so this is indeed a Woman’s March, albeit missing that signature hat.

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

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

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

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

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, environmental protection

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Beautiful Great Blue Heron in the Flight Path

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

The Next Best Thing: Poems

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

Incoming ducks approaching the great blue heron as twilight deepens – babsjeheron

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Thanks to Cherie Lucas Rowlands and WordPress for the recent WPC Challenge: Path. Some paths – like the boardwalk in a nature sanctuary – are concrete, well-defined, tangible things, easily seen even when nobody, or no thing, treads upon them. Others, like the migratory path of birds or butterflies are no less real, but difficult to see except when the creatures fly along them. The far end of this slender cove marks a point on the migratory path of these ducks. The Heron stood frozen in place as wave after wave of ducks noisily invaded.

And thanks also to Cee for her recent Fun Foto Challenge: Duck Duck Goose Heron. Sorry, Cee, but I couldn’t resist taking a bit of liberty with your title.

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

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

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

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, kayaking

Peaceable Co-existence

Ignoring the terrified woman’s sobs, the mute swan relentlessly went at their pedal boat, and chased the two women completely off the water.

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

Great blue heron fishing near a nesting mute swan.

“I am never, ever going out on this lake again!” she shrieked between sobs, as they beached the two-man boat. They stormed off on foot, leaving the boat deserted for days.

On cold winter days, one of the swans resident on my small lake visited the birdfeeders daily, scooping up seeds dropped by blue jays and cardinals and chickadees. Peaceable co-existence abounded on those cold mornings, and the swan would approach me as I replenished the feeders.

But come spring and nesting season, all bets were off. The swans aggressively chased the geese, preventing them from nesting, and chased the great blue herons away from their feeding grounds. And those two women who paddled too close to the swans’ nest? Someone retrieved their pedal boat days later, but I never saw either of them on the water again.

I was reminded of the swans’ aggressive nature last weekend when I noticed a great blue heron plying the shoreline just west of a nesting swan.

Would the heron continue on its path towards the nest, or detour?

Would the nesting swan assert herself as the heron neared?

Would the swan’s mate swoop in aggressively and banish the interloper?

[Before continuing on with that story, a word about the next image. I can’t take you out with me in the boat, as fun as that might be, so I’ve purposely included it here to give you a taste of what it feels like to be in a floating kayak photographing wildlife on the shore. You can get a sense of the way the waves shift and lift the kayak, and the effort to keep the camera steady and focused on the subjects, swan and heron. It was a little windy that day, and the kayak shimmied left and right and up and down, sometimes all at once. As far as photography goes, there’s a high degree of difficulty in this sort of work. As far as being one with nature, I wouldn’t have it any other way.]

In the following sequence, you can see what happens as the great blue heron approached the swan’s nest.

Did the swan appear alarmed?

If you look closely, you can see that it’s not until the heron has passed by the midpoint of the nest that the swan even sticks up her head, in a subtle movement. While swans are notoriously aggressive birds, and especially protective of their nests, this swan seemed completely at ease with the approaching heron.

I love peaceable co-existence, wherever – and whenever – it manifests.

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

Great blue heron approaches nesting swan. The shifting movement of the image results from waves in the cove, and gives you a sense of what it is like taking photographs from an undulating kayak.

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

Thanks to Cee for her Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Water.

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

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

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

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, Mute Swan

Black Bird, Red Boat & Selfie

If Red Boat were a horse, she would have pawed the ground, then reared up on her hind legs and snorted.

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

Great blue heron being pestered by redwinged blackbird, shown at top left and far right.

The red kayak and I were out on the lake before 7am that day, an inaugural dawn paddle, the earliest ever out for us.

The water was as smooth as a mirror when first we paddled towards the north end of the cove, and abundant water lilies helped tame the red boat’s natural urge to take me on wild donut-spiral spins. (Whitewater boats aren’t designed for flatwater.)

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

While playboats aren’t engineered for lakes, this one watched many great blue herons with me.

I meandered north and then east, hugging the shoreline, binoculars in hand, a sweet paddle.

It had been unseasonably hot the past few days – in the 90s – but the weather broke overnight, plunging back into the 60s, and everything seemed frisky – birch leaves and the willows swaying in the breeze, red-winged blackbirds exultant in flight, ducks splashing in the shallows.

The goldfinches were playing tag, flitting from island to shore and back, and mother duck led a conga-line of ducklings into the reeds. Several schools of small sunfish darted just below the surface near the shore. No wonder the great blue herons like it there.

The red boat and I rounded the point near the corner of Cove Road, headed east. We paused a few minutes to read the water.

No longer glassy-smooth, the surface had darkened, becoming angry-looking, and the wind picked up from the east. If Red Boat were a horse, she would have pawed the ground, then reared up on her hind legs and snorted. As it was, she spun a couple of 360s and whispered “Danger!” in my ears all the while we carved circles.

The wind abated and that’s when I heard it – the first loud frawhnk from the south, and saw the long loping wingflaps of a heron skimming close to the surface, headed towards the center of the lake.

Within seconds came the call of three more frawhnks, this time from overhead. Even the big herons were frisky in the cooler air, chasing each other across the lake, round the bend, then climbing back skywards.  One passed directly over my head, circled east and back right overhead again – frawhnk, frawhnk, frawhnnnnk – then circled back to my cove.

Red Boat and I followed at a discrete distance, lagging behind to let the heron settle in.

Arriving at the end of the cove, we came around from behind the small island, binocs in hand, to find… no heron in sight. Not in the reeds, nor the trees, nor behind the lush green waterplants.

No photos of the great blue soaring this dawn, but it was never about the photos anyway.

We tarried a while, watching the ducklings and fish, admiring wild purple irises in the vegetation, and the gorgeous ball-like water lily buds, then paddled for home.

Five cormorants perched on our swimming float were a welcome home committee.

I maneuvered the red boat gingerly up to the shore, coming alongside a half-submerged log that’s an impromptu dock these days, and poled her into position with my paddle like a gondolier pushing his boat.

It was then that I heard it, from directly behind me, not 8 feet away – the frawhnk, frawhnk calls, as a heron glided by me so close, so close.

I was thinking then that the red boat and I would need to do more dawn paddles.

We had a hailstorm that night, with marble-size hail pellets that entirely blanketed the yard. The lightning strikes took out the isp connection, offering up an unplugged weekend. What a welcome respite that was.

After the hailstorm that night, Belle, the brindle-colored terrier-hound, howled a duet for an hour with a coyote that was lurking somewhere along the shoreline. Very eerie – the coyote’s call the sort of sound that makes a person sit bolt upright in bed at 3AM and the little hairs on the nape of the neck stand straight up.

The next morning, another dawn outing on the lake. I took along a thermos of coffee and some oatmeal with maple syrup and had breakfast nestled under a white birch in the northeast side of the cove.

The birds seemed unscathed from the hailstorm – ducklings and cygnets getting bigger by the week, and I watched a grackle carrying a large plump earthworm back to the nest.

A Red Winged Blackbird pestered a heron that had landed too close to a nest – very aggressive blackbird to take on a creature so very much larger.

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

The photographer.

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This week, Cheri and WordPress challenged us to post a selfie. Mine is elusive, as it should be. Thanks to Cheri Lucas Rowlands and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie.

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

Thanks once more to Praire Birder Charlotte for the Feathers on Friday challenge.

Thanks yet again to Cee for her Fun Foto Challenge: Large prompt. (Difficult to believe that the heron and the blackbird are both birds, the heron is so very large compared to the blackbird, just as a Great Dane compares to a Toy Poodle.)

Thanks to Ailsa for her Where’s My Backpack: Still prompt. (People who understand the hull design of various kayaks will understand why the Red Boat spun me around in donut-circles. It is nearly impossible to keep a playboat still on flatwater like the lake.)

Thanks to Petrel41 for this post about Red Winged Blackbirds

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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, Red Winged Blackbird

Swan Song?

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

Great blue heron standing atop an abandoned swans’ nest.

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Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.

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

Thanks to Cee for her Fun Foto Challenge: Large prompt. (The great blue heron is large. The swans’ nest is larger.)

Thanks to Ailsa for her Where’s My Backpack: Wood prompt. (The abandoned swans’ nest was built from wood, some dead, some living, as you can see.)

Thanks to Michelle for her Weekly Pet Challenge.

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

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

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Great Blue Heron

Written by Small Hands

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

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

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

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

I treasure these pages written by small hands.

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

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

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

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

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

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Great Blue Heron, Audubon

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery (and a Powerful Way to Learn)

Or maybe they’re doing the hokey-pokey:

You put your left foot in,
You put your left foot out…

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

Cygnets learning how to paddle with just one foot by imitating their parent swan.

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Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.

Thanks to Josh R and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Family. (The whole family of swans was lined up on the lake that day, parents flanking their seven cygnets. All seven cygnets were imitating the lead parent, with one foot out of the water at the same time. Remarkable demonstration of learning by imitating!)

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

Thanks once again to Cee for her Fun Foto Challenge: Found in Nature prompt.

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

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

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Swan, Cygnet

Great Blue Heron Channeling Vanna White Selling Real Estate

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

Great blue heron waiting for the open house to start.

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File this one under just for fun.

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Thanks to Ailsa for her Where’s My Backpack: Silver challenge. (The solar-powered lamp post is silver-colored metal.)

Thanks to Cee for her Fun Foto Challenge: Man made prompt. (The fir sake sign is man made.)

Thanks to Sue for her A Word a Week Photo Challenge: Waiting prompt. (The heron is waiting for arrivals for the open house to start.)

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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™

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

Great Blue Heron

70 Wonderful Great Blue Heron Nests

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.

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

How many playful great blue fledglings will we see in 2014?

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, my love affair with great blue herons.

In a couple of recent posts, I’ve written about that nesting island. If you’ve missed them, click here, and here, and here to catch up.)

For eleven years, I had lived across from the Eastern end of the waters, and from my balcony and on walks along the shoreline, I had watched the comings and goings of a stream of herons at certain times of the day. In the mornings, they headed away from the island as though on their way to work, later to return with fish for their offspring. They flew in wave after wave after wave thoughout the day.

More than 10 years had passed since that accidental sidewalk encounter, and I was curious about the number of herons still nesting on the island. I painstakingly photographed the length of the island from the only accessible vantage point, the South, in May, 2011, and captured 32 nests – remarkable since I had no access to the Northern exposure.

Out of curiosity, today I found a satellite image of the island taken exactly one month before my panorama. The herons and/or their nests stand out starkly in this next image.

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

Can you count the great blue herons’ nests on the island in this satellite view?

By my informal count, there are at least 70 nests and/or herons visible in that satellite view. My heart leaps with joy at their numbers.

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Thanks to Cheri Rowlands Lucas and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginnings. (By my count, there are more than 70 great blue heron nests on the island. That’s a whole lot of new beginnings.)

Thanks to Praire Birder Charlotte for the Feathers on Friday challenge.

Thanks to the kind folks at SkyWatch Friday.

Thanks to Ailsa for her Where’s My Backpack: Possibility challenge. (With that many nests, the island reeks with the possibilities fir new life.)

Thanks to Cee for her Fun Foto Challenge: Preoccupied prompt. (Yes, I am definitely preoccupied with this island and her herons.)

Thanks to Sue for her A Word a Week Photo Challenge: Yellow prompt. (Great Blue Herons have such amazing yellow eyes and bills!)

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

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

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

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

(This photo was taken May 1, 2011.)

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

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Herons Create Beginnings of New Life

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

Great blue heron rises sharply upwards.

I stood along the shoreline, binoculars trained on the island, trying to count nests and great blue herons. The island is a good distance from shore and even at a healthy magnification through the binocs, that is a challenge. It occurred to me it would be easier to take a series of photos and stitch them together and count the nests and birds that way.

Sweeping the camera from West to East the length of the island for the panorama, I had zoomed in on a nest with heron that was closest to me, and suddenly out of the corner of my eye realized that a second heron was making a beeline across the channel, flying fairly low across the waters towards me.

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

Great blue heron flying from the nesting island across the channel.

I started firing off frames – with little time for re-focusing – and at the last moment, only a couple of yards from shore and me, and as shown in the top photo in this post, the heron arced sharply upwards into the stand of tall pines along the shore to my right.

The pine bough shook and bounced and then quivered under the bird’s weight, and then the heron poked up its head and looked straight at me.

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

Great blue heron bouncing after landing in the pines, then turning to look at me.

It climbed higher into the pine, in and out of view, and then – just as suddenly as it had arrived – it took off back to the island.

I watched it course across the lake and then up, up to the top of the trees there, landing at the nest.

I watched some more through the binocs, and the heron once again made a beeline for me, only to soar into the nearby pines once again at the last minute. I watched the boughs bounce and the heron clamber about in the tree for five to ten minutes before it returned to the nest across the waters.

This odd behavior repeated itself several more times before I was able to get a proper focus on the heron as it was about to leave the pine on my shore and return to the nest. The heron had a long twig dangling from its beak as it swooped down from the pine.

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

Great blue heron leaves the pine tree carrying a twig for the nest on the island across the channel.

It was building a nest, gathering its lumber from off-island. Until that day, I had never before seen nest building in person, how exciting that was.

I then focused the binocs back on the nest to better watch the heron weaving the twigs into the nest and it was then that I noticed: not one, but two great blue herons in the nest. Two adults. Two adults building their nest together. Thrilling to watch.

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

Great blue heron returns to the nest, at left. Later, they mate, at right.

After a while, they celebrated the day’s nest building efforts with full-on mating – more thrilling, an incredible sight even from the distant shore.

I took more than 500 photos that day. The island is far from shore and totally inaccessible to man; boating is prohibited as the island is in a reservoir that is part of the public water supply for the city. There isn’t much detail in many of the photos, and they are not art, but I wanted to share that experience with you.

I am enamored of that bird, his industriousness in foraging for twigs and taking them back to his mate in the nest.

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Thanks to Cheri Rowlands Lucas and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginnings. (Watching the herons mate during a break in their nest construction was amazing, a sacrament, like watching the beginning of new life unfold at the most basic of levels.)

Thanks to Paula and WordPress for the Thursday’s Special Non-Challenge Challenge. (This was an awesome and special experience.)

Thanks to Cee for her Fun Foto Challenge: Preoccupied prompt. (The heron flying back and forth and back and forth and back and forth with sticks fir the nest was definitely preoccupied, as was I, watching.)

Thanks to Sue for her A Word a Week Photo Challenge: Yellow prompt. (Great Blue Herons have such amazing yellow eyes and bills!)

Thanks to Ailsa for her Where’s My Backpack: Birds challenge.

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

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

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

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

(This photo was taken May 1, 2011.)

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

Great Blue Heron, Nest Building

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