Category Archives: Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge

Wings Akimbo for Wordless Wednesday

I saw how wings worked,
how perfumes are transmitted
by feathery telegraph…

From the poem “Birds”
Pablo Neruda,
Art of Birds

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

Great blue heron with wings akimbo in the cove.

.
.

Thanks to Ese for her Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge: Celebrate. This week, I received a notice from WordPress reminding me of my one-year anniversary of joining the community. Thanks to WordPress and the many fine bloggers I’ve met here for the opportunities to connect via our blogs. Something to celebrate for sure.

Thanks to Ailsa for her Weekly Travel Theme: Glow. The cove was shrouded in shadows that afternoon, but a few spots of sunlight dappled through the tree canopy, and cast an illuminating glow on the heron’s wing.

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

Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.

.
.

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

Advertisements

Nbr. 25

She’s gathered up all the time in the world
– nothing else – and waits for scanty trophies,
complete in herself as a heron.

Denise Levertov,
Sands of the Well

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

Nbr. 25

.
.

Thanks to Ese for her Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge: Celebrate. Ese has challenged us this week with the topic of “celebration.” The backstory for the photo in this post is that it was intended to be a birthday card to celebrate my daughter’s 25th birthday. It was taken about two years before she turned 25, and by the time that specific birthday came and went, this photo had been forgotten, the 11×14 print deeply buried in my portfolio. Oh well.

Thanks to Cheri Lucas Rowlands and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters. Signs affixed to docks along the waterways can be fascinating. At the most basic level, they’re often just the letters and numbers of the street address of the property attached to the dock: “127 Cove Rd.” Sometimes they’re neutral and strictly business: “Private Property,” or just “Private.” Sometimes they show their owners are made of sterner stuff: “KEEP OUT!” they shout. Often they’re those ubiquitous pre-printed white plastic signs with red and black letters and numbers found in hardware stores. Sometimes, though, they reveal the property owner’s creativity and generosity: “Welcome! FREE Water!” reads a hand-lettered sign above a galvanized aluminum tub filled with water bottles on a dock in the Charles River.

That’s a favorite of mine, along with the weathered dock sign shown in the photo here, which says simply “25,” the street name a mystery.

Mystery sustains us.

.
.

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

On The Threshold of A Season

Great blue heron amongst water lilies in the cove. © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great blue heron amongst water lilies in the cove.

Between the polar vortex and far-too-frequent snowstorms, I was not immune to bemoaning the interminable winter. As the cold became dangerous, I worried about the birds, big and small. The post titled “Music to My Ears, Polar Vortex be Damned” (please click here if you missed that post) resulted from days on end with no birds about. And as for the herons that winter-over here? I was too afraid to give voice to my fears for their survival this winter, lest my writings “make it so.” 

Inside this small studio space, during the long winter months, I’m able to observe the herons in a sort of perpetual summer while working through the thousands of photos taken the previous year. It is a treat and a respite to be able to gaze at lush greenery on the computer monitor mere feet from icicle-shrouded eaves, or when the cold winds howl and whistle through nineteenth-century window casings.

Last summer, I reflected in “Artists and Models“:

Are there any artists who don’t fall in love with their models, their muses?

I am enamored of them all, the great blue herons I’ve been observing for the past decade in the watershed here. Our winters can be harsh, so generally I’m not able to be out on the water from December until April. Once back on the lakes each spring, I survey the area, looking for each of the individuals in their usual territory of years past… Each year brings great relief and big smiles when I find the individuals I’ve been following over the years, and also some anxiety around the missing herons.

We have now gone ten full days without falling snow. Even though there are still icy mounds slowly melting at the end of the driveway, a magnolia has started to bud, and pre-dawn birdsong has called forth the morn the past three days.

And perhaps the best harbinger of Spring: my season pass for kayaking arrived in today’s mail from Charles River Canoe & Kayak.

The boathouse is open.

It is the threshold of a new season.

.
.

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

Thanks to Krista and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold.

Thanks to Ese for her Weekly Shoot & Quote Photo Challenge: Wings.

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

Thanks to the kind folks at Charles River Canoe & Kayak for outstanding kayaking and canoeing. All of the Great Egret photos and many of the Great Blue Heron photos in the photo galleries of this blog were taken from the seat of a CRCK kayak. 2014 is my ninth year of boating from their boathouses. Charles River Canoe & Kayak aren’t just “outfitters”, they’re “community.” If you’re a paddler (or a wanna-be-paddler) in Eastern Massachusetts, check them out.

.
.

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

For That Fearlessness

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

Great blue heron on swimming float.

After feeding the birds that afternoon, I walked over to the shrubbery along the shore to look at the swimming float platform half-way across the cove.

My distance vision isn’t very good. I could tell there was a largish bird on the platform, but not whether it was a cormorant or a great blue heron from so far away. It was preening, stretching its neck up, bill down, and could have been either as far as I could tell.

I decided to call to it, and if it responded, that would tell me which.

Arrrh..

Arrrh..

And suddenly – before I could utter a third arrrh – there was a short clamoring of frawhnk… frawhnk… frawhnk… coming from my immediate left, not five feet away.

Obscured by the trees and bushes, a juvenile heron had been on a neighbor’s dock.

It heard my call, answered my call, and then flew directly towards the shore where I stood, right past me with less than two feet separating us, and landed on the dock to my right.

I walked over to the path by the dock, careful to not aproach too closely, and called again…

Arrrh..

Arrrh..

And the heron’s neck craned up full height, its right eye seeking me out, watching me, watching me.

I stood still for a long while, until the bird folded its neck back into that graceful curve and began foraging along the shore.

Goosebumps that the juvenile responded to my call, and came closer.

Juveniles are great in that way – fearless their first summer in the world.

I love them for that fearlessness.

.
.

Thanks to Paula for her Thursday’s Special Non-Challenge Challenge. (Thursday, Tuesday, any day in the company of herons is a good day, the right day.)

Thanks to Ailsa for her Where’s My Backpack: Work prompt. (It was hard work when crafting this post to not bemoan the bitterly cold weather, but one look at this photo brought warmth flooding back.)

Thanks to Ese for her Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge: Alive prompt. (What a great day, to be so alive.)

.
.

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

Next to my Gen-u-ine Louisville Slugger

Next to the Louisville Slugger and tripod propped against the wall in the corner of my studio stands a misshapen lenth of wood.

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

Great blue heron.

In my favorite cove, there is, or rather was, a partly sunken deciduous tree. Because the cove is a narrow finger bordered by giant pines and tall leafy trees, during the golden hour, sunlight accentuated the arching branches the way a spot draws your eyes to a painting in a museum.

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

An elusive great blue heron lurks in the shadows across from the golden branches.

At other times of the day, it offered shadowy refuge to the herons, like this:

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

Great blue heron perching in favorite spot in the cove.

Great blue herons are creatures of habit, and so I adjusted my kayak forays to follow their circuit around the lake. Eventually, I learned to predict which heron could be found where at what time of day.

The heron in the photo above staked out his territory in the cove, and I came to treasure his presence. He was the first heron I sought out in the spring and the last one I saw on closing day in the fall. Each year, my anticipation was palpable as I stroked deeper into the cove, looking for him on his favorite perch. For years, each autumn, he was the last heron I saw, the last heron I photographed that year, before closing down for the winter.

There were times that he ceded his territory to the youngsters when he was nesting deeper in the cove with his mate. Then, other herons would stake their own territorial claim to his branches.

In 2010, the heron in the top photo of this post adopted the branches for a fishing platform.

The following year, a different heron, seen in the next photo, took ownership of the limbs. In this photo, the heron is cleaning its bill after downing a fish, by rubbing it along the wood, one side of the bill alternating with the other, back and forth.

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

Great blue heron cleaning bill.

And then one day it happened. I rounded the curve while kayaking into the cove and raised my binoculars just as I had one on hundreds of other days, scanning the far end for the great blue heron on the branch.

But there was no heron there.

Not only was there no heron there, there was no branch there.

Stunned, I paddled closer.

The water level was high due to a recent tropical storm, and so most of the deciduous tree was submerged, as it had been for a few weeks, but the top branch, the tallest branch was gone.

Broken off sharply just above water level, the branch floated forlornly near it’s stump.

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

Great blue heron about to fly over the stump of the broken-off branch.

Carefully, I retrieved the broken branch and balanced it awkwardly, strapped under the deck bungees of my kayak.

For the time being, it has pride of place in my studio, next to my Louisville Slugger baseball bat and tripod. I treasure it, and the memories it evokes.

At times, I can close my eyes and hear the great blue heron perched there, the silken rustle of feathers, the soft arrrrh….arrrrh….arrrrh greeting, calling me into the heron’s realm.

.
.

Thanks to Krista Stevens and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure. (I treasure this branch, gripped by countless herons over the years.)

Thanks to Ese for her Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge: Empty prompt. (and now, the spot in the cove where the branch belonged is strangely, sadly empty.)

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

Thanks to Ailsa for her Where’s My Backpack: Wood prompt.

.
.

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

The Great Blue Heron’s Invitation (Post Number 200)

Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into flight.

With apologies to James Wright’s poem “A Blessing”
The Branch Will not Break

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

Great blue heron fishing near the mossy log.

That day, I went out in the kayak for two and a half hours. There was no wind then, it was calm, and sweet, and I felt suffused with joy.

At one point in the secluded cove, I failed to notice a great blue heron on a fallen willow, the one felled by the big winds of the previous summer.

I had drifted up very close. I didn’t see her, but she saw me. Only when she burst into flight did I notice her.

Usually when they take off, the air is silent. That day, though, what alerted me to her presence was the rustle of her feathers. It was a sound unlike any other, and the soft, unmistakeable friction of quill against quill brought me to goosebumps.

Her flight was only a short, slow hop across the cove, to the other side, and when she landed, she stood upright and stared at me as if to say “Well, are you happy now?”

We stayed together, the heron staring at me, for a few minutes, then she turned and stalked deeper into the mysterious forest at the eastern end of the cove, where humans never go.

Only this time – since she knew I was there and, even knowing of my presence, she plied the shore very slowly, unafraid, not at all warily – I took her behavior as an invitation to follow her deeper and deeper along the slender finger of water until it was too shallow for even a kayak.

Any farther and I would have had to grow flight feathers to continue on.

Some day, I may just do that anyway – step out of my body and break into flight.

.
.

Thanks to Ese for her Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge: Imagination prompt.

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

Thanks to Sue for her A Word a Week Photo Challenge: Undulate prompt.

.
.

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

The Bee’s Knees

“It’s like this,” Pooh said. “When you go after honey with a balloon, the great thing is not to let the bees know you’re coming. Now, if you have a green balloon, they might think you were only part of the tree, and not notice you, and if you have a blue balloon, they might think you were only part of the sky, and not notice you, and the question is: Which is most likely?”

“Wouldn’t they notice you underneath the balloon?” you asked.

“They might or they might not,” said Winnie-the-Pooh. “You never can tell with bees.” He thought for a moment and said: “I shall try to look like a small black cloud. That will deceive them.”

Winnie the Pooh
A. A. Milne

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

Blue bee in the heart of a yellow lily.

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

Blue bee flying out of a yellow lily

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

Blue bee climbing about in the heart of the lily.

.

This week, Josh has asked us to show family, and Ese to show buzz. What has more buzz than a family of bees? Even Winnie the Pooh would agree these three blue ones are the bee’s knees.

.
.

Thanks to Josh R and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Family.

Thanks to Ese for her Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge: Buzz.

Thanks to Sue for her A Word a Week Photo Challenge: Yellow prompt.

.
.

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)

Blue Bee, Lily

Music to my Ears, Polar Vortex be Damned

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

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

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

Snow-covered window.

This week, I have been anxious about the effect that the brutal cold from the Polar Vortex has had on birds.

Each day, I’ve opened the window to check for birds at the feeders.

No birds at all Monday. The air was silent.

None Tuesday. Absolute silence.

Two small sparrows Wednesday, and a lone squirrel scampering up a tree, but still utter silence.

Thursday, again no birds, no bird sounds.

Friday, still no birds, still eerily – disconcertingly – silent.

This morning, a lone Mourning Dove on a branch, and as I lifted the window open, I heard it: birdsong.

The first in a week.

I couldn’t see the singing, chittering, chirping birds – just the one Mourning Dove – but I could hear the voices of other birds.

A small symphony.

It was music to my ears.

.
.

Thanks to Cheri Rowlands Lucas and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Window.

Thanks to Ese for her Weekly Shoot & Quote: Music challenge.

Thanks to Ed for the Sunday Stills: White challenge.

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

Thanks to Dawn for her Lingering Look at Windows challenge.

.
.

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)

Snowy Walden Pond

…nature is one and continuous everywhere.

Henry David Thoreau
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers / Walden; Or, Life in the Woods / The Maine Woods / Cape Cod 

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

Walden Pond shoreline wall in winter.

Walking at Walden on New Year’s Eve back then felt so right. It is a grounded space, a grounding place that I like to revisit around the start of each new year. Our sudden blizzard this week has preempted this year’s traditional sojourn to Walden physically, but not in spirit. You’re welcome to join me there through some photos.

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

Cabin at Walden Pond.

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

Snowpilgrim at Walden Pond at sunset.

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

Henry David Thoreau contemplating snow in front of his cabin at Walden Pond.

Walden Pond reflection - New Year's Eve.

Walden Pond reflection – New Year’s Eve.

.
.

Thanks to Ese for her Weekly Shoot & Quote: Continuous challenge.

Thanks to Ed for the Sunday Stills: White challenge. (Winter white brings forth edge details in a landscape that are otherwise obscured, like the sinuous curve of the stone wall along the shore. It’s unremarkable in summer, but stands in stark relief after the snow.)

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

Thanks to Dawn for her Lingering Look at Windows challenge. (Surely the windows in the cabin where Thoreau lived for two years must count as worthy windows. After today’s blizzard, thoughts turn to Thoreau in his cabin in such a storm, perhaps a passerby might see his candle or lantern aglow looking in from the outside, and feel warmed.)

Thanks to the kind folks at SkyWatch Friday.

.
.

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)

Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau

A Great Blue Heron is Most Like a Cat When…

The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.  

Thich Nhat Hanh,
Peace is Every Step

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

Great blue heron has caught a small pike after stalking it like a cat.

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

Great blue heron about to strike.

Have you ever watched a cat stalking something? You might have noticed the cat “triangulating” on the prey if the prey is still. Because cats can’t see entirely motionless critters well (or perhaps at all), the cat will itself move in order to pinpoint the precise location where it needs to pounce.

And just before the cat pounces, you may notice that often the cat hunkers down, raising its butt while lowering its head, then shifting its weight on rear paws from side to side.

Great blue herons sometimes do that same maneuver before striking. As you can see in the animation I’ve created here, the heron’s head is very nearly motionless, while its neck and body sway from side to side as it fixes on the location of the pike it is stalking. The heron then lowered its head, raised its tail, and struck with lightning speed.

It was a lucky strike because, as the top photo here shows, the heron just barely caught the pike – the fish was easily a foot long, but the heron only was able to grasp the end of the pike’s mouth. The heron easily swallowed the pike in one gulp. Happy heron!

I can remember the first time I observed a heron stalking using that cat-like sequence like it was only yesterday. Watching through the binoculars, I saw the heron sway from side to side, raise its butt, lower its head and then strike below the surface, and I broke into a big smile when I realized it was hunting just like my cats. Who knew?!

.
.

Thanks again to Cee for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Happy.

Thanks once more to Ese for her Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote: Happiness prompt.

Thanks once more to Ailsa for her Weekly Travel Theme: Still prompt. How is it that the heron can hold its head so utterly still while the rest of its body sways from side to side? I find that fascinating.

Thanks also to Michelle for her Michelle’s Weekly Pet Challenge prompt.

.
.

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, Cats

%d bloggers like this: