Category Archives: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

Beautiful Great Blue Heron in the Morning

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

Great Blue Heron on Bough – babsjeheron

I would rather learn from one bird how to sing than to teach 10,000 stars how not to dance.

e.e. cummingsE.E. Cummings:
Complete Poems 1904-1962

On the first outing each spring, I am reminded that there is an art to seeing the very familiar with fresh eyes, where no two days are the same. I am reminded to not take for granted the usual wildlife and their commonplace behaviors, to not fall into the trap of my own routines.

The inaugural circumnavigation of the lake is fast approaching – though not quite fast enough for me this spring.

Will I see this Great Blue Heron once again this year?

Have I ever mentioned that no two years are the same?

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Thanks to Krista S and WordPress for their recent WPC Challenge: I’d Rather Be. I’d rather be out, camera in hand, today, but it is still too cold for kayaking. Soon. Soon I keep telling myself. Soon.

Thanks to Cheri and WordPress for the recent WPC: Favorite Place. My favorite place is where the Herons are, of course it is.

Thanks to Paula for her Thursday’s Special: Verdant. The green of the bough in the faint mist that morning was verdant.

Thanks to Cee for her recent Photo Challenge: Birds. Once again, I am very tardy, Cee, but I couldn’t resist. Your challenges are inspiring.
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Watch this space for news of my next one-woman photography show for the months of May and June, 2018.
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Through July 13, 2017 I was a Featured Artist at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area. Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

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

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows

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Beautiful Heron in the African Queen

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

Great blue heron soaring upwards.

I heard the Heron’s distress call before I saw him.

After literally thousands of hours in the field watching the Great Blue Herons, I am susceptible to “trompe l’oeil” moments. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve mistaken a twisted tree trunk glinting in the sun for a Heron, or a rock formation that fools my eye from a distance.

So, yes, my eyes have been fooled. But my ears?

In what seemed a “trompe l’oreille” fool-the-ears experience, the frantic frawhnk, frawhnk of a Heron being flushed erupted from the movie screen, and in the blink of an eye, the Heron burst from the shoreline and fled the approaching boat.

Heron in African Queen circa 1950

You can hear Great Blue Heron calls at Audubon and also at Cornell’s All About Birds.

(Who but yours truly will review a film and only focus on the Heron??)
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Thanks to Jen H and WordPress for their recent WPC Challenge: Story. If you like old Bogart movies as much as I do, The Africa Queen spins a delightful story.

And more thanks to Cheri and WordPress for the recent Daily Prompt: Frantic. Filmed live on location, the film crew boat flushed the Heron, who burst away with frantic cries.

Thanks to Cee for her recent Photo Challenge: Wildlife. Once again, I am very tardy, Cee, but I couldn’t resist. The wildlife in The African Queen is as real as it gets. Not a frame of CGI, all shot on location in Africa. Hippos, fierce crocs, monkeys, lions, and that unexpected Heron.
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Watch this space for news of my next one-woman photography show for the months of May and June, 2018.
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Through July 13, 2017 I was a Featured Artist at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area. Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

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

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows

Beautiful Great Blue Heron’s Alternate Reality — No Blizzard Here

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

Great Blue Heron Preens in Summer – babsjeheron

We stood there, staring eye-to-eye for a long, long time, though it could not have been more than twenty seconds. His eyes, doe eyes almost, soft eyes, like those of a deer. His long break, the orange-yellow of Aztec gold. His cap feathers, pure white. It felt as though I was looking at a being of kindness and intelligence, and an equal.
From About,
by Babsje

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Thanks to Ben H and WordPress for today’s Daily Prompt: Grasp. I am grasping at any avenue of escape from today’s blizzard

And more thanks to Krista S and WordPress for their recent WPC Challenge: Weathered. In the past ten days, we have had three ferocious Nor’Easter storms, with winds up to 65 mph. It is around this time of year when the Great Blue Herons migrate back. I am concerned for them, that they have weathered these storms. I hope to see this Great Blue once again during my inaugural spring circumnavigation of the lake in a few weeks.

Thanks to Paula for her Thursday’s Special: Wintry challenge. In defiance of our third fierce Nor’Easter in ten days, I present a placid, summer scene.

Thanks to Cee for her recent Photo Challenge: Birds. Once again, I am very tardy, Cee.
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Watch this space for news of my next one-woman photography show for the months of May and June, 2018.
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Through July 13, 2017 I was a Featured Artist at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area. Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

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

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows

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

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

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