Category Archives: Fishing

Beautiful Great Blue Heron Gets Lucky

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

Great Blue Heron Fledgling Sticks The Landing – babsjeheron

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Great Blue Heron With Pickerel Weed - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron With Pickerel Weed – babsjeheron

Boat traffic was ominously heavy that morning at the lake.
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Old Blue the kayak and I had put in later than usual, and it was dismaying to see motor boat after motor boat cruising down the channel towards us.
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Great Blue Heron Territorial Display - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Territorial Display – babsjeheron

Their wakes were tricky to navigate in a 15 foot kayak.
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Everyone seemed in a hurry to reach their favorite spots.
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The water churned from boat wakes crashing at me from different directions simultaneously.
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I was feeling the way the Great Blue in this image looked.
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Young osprey perched amid pinecones  - babsjeheron    © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Young Osprey perched amid pinecones – babsjeheron

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One boat rushed by to my left, very nearly swamping me in Old Blue.
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So much for seamanship and courtesy.
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An Osprey watched us from high above.
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Great Blue Heron Camouflaged - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Camouflaged – babsjeheron

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The adults in the speeding boat were all facing forward, chatting away.
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But the young boy sitting in the back was facing aft.
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© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron preening Columbus Day weekend – babsjeheron

Facing aft and silently pointing as he caught my eye.
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And then it dawned on me.
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The boy was directing my attention to the beautiful Great Blue Heron perched on the branch just above the water to my right. How lucky I was.
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Great Blue Heron lands a large fish - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron lands a large fish – babsjeheron

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Thanks to the young boy’s keen eye, I was able to take many Great Blue Heron photographs that day.
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Until he pointed out that Great Blue, I was discouraged by how crowded things were on the water.
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Great Blue Heron carrying large Pike - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron carrying large Pike – babsjeheron

And I had considered turning the kayak around for home.
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Instead of leaving, I was able to watch this Great Blue catch the ginormous Pike.
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How lucky I was.
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Great Blue Heron catching prize fish - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Pteradactyl catching prize fish – babsjeheron

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You can read the story of Great Blue Heron’s Jaw-Dropping Day with a Fisherman CLICK HERE.
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How lucky she was.
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Great Blue Heron Swallows Two-foot Long Fish  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

How about a round of applause for this plucky Heron for swallowing the huge Pike? – babsjeheron

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You can read the story of the Epic Great Blue Heron Swallows Ginormous Fish CLICK HERE.
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How lucky she was..

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Van fully engulfed in flames on road next to boathouse on Columbus Day weekend - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Van fully engulfed in flames on road next to boathouse on Columbus Day weekend – babsjeheron

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This was also the day the boathouse caught fire, and a few hours later, an heroic boater saved the life of the Great Blue Heron shown in today’s photos.
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You can read the story of the Happy Ending to Beautiful Great Blue Heron Rescue CLICK HERE.
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Thanks to him, this Heron was lucky to be alive!
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How very lucky she was!

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This post is prompted by Cee Neuner, Dawn Miller and the creative and inspiring Lens Artists Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya, all of whom encourage the community of photographers and writers.

The focus for this week’s LAPC is The Ordinary. This week, the Lens Artists have invited blogger I.J. Khanewala here as guest host. Welcome I.J.!

The day shown in my post, Columbus Day – now Indigenous Peoples’ Day – started out as an ordinary holiday day at the lake. The second Monday in October is the traditional closing day for the boathouse for the year.

Please click the links below to see the beautiful offerings from these wonderful photographers.
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Thanks to Cee for her Hunt for joy. I don’t know if this challenge is still on, but I really like the idea of searching for joy. The Herons bring joy.
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Thanks to Dawn for her Festival of Leaves . Autumn leaves are subtly reflected in the Preening Heron photo.
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From I.J. Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 169: The Ordinary .
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 169: The Ordinary .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 169: The Ordinary .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 169: The Ordinary .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 169: The Ordinary .

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Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and they need your love.

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

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
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Natick Town Hall
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Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
Audubon Sanctuary
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Be a fly on the wall! You can CLICK HERE to see the gallery walls with Herons .
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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2021 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

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

Beautiful Great Blue Heron’s Guest…Osprey Fish Tail Lore

Silhouette of Osprey Carrying Half a Fish Nbr 1 - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Silhouette of Osprey Carrying Half a Fish Nbr 1 – babsjeheron

© 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com) © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Silhouette of Osprey Carrying Half a Fish Nbr 2 – babsjeheron

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Some birds are more egalitarian than others when it comes to incubating their eggs and attending to their chicks in the nest.

Mute Swans for example? Both males and females have been observed sitting on their eggs during their five-to-six week incubation. Click to see the male Mute Swan incubating eggs.

Great Blue Herons share the care and feeding of their chicks. Click to read about the Great Blue Herons’ shift change at the nest.

And what about Osprey? One bit of Osprey lore is that they always carry fish with the fish head facing in their direction of flight, for better in-flight aerodynamics. In the photos today, although the fish has no head, the Osprey is indeed carrying it with an invisible head forward. I find that aspect of the headless fish photos amusing.

Incubating eggs is largely the job of the female Osprey. It is the role of the male to bring meals back to the nest for the female during the one-month incubation period. I’ve read that the male Osprey shares his catch with his mate at the nest: when he catches a fish, he brings half the fish back to the female.

Until that October day, I had often seen and photographed Osprey carrying fish, but those fish were always whole fish. In both photos today, the Osprey is carrying half a fish. Presumably he has already given the other half to the nesting female.

I am moved by his heartwarming pair-bonding gesture.
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And since this is a Great Blue Heron blog, obligatory Heron photo:

Great Blue Heron with broken leg wings her way across the lake - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron with broken leg wings her way across the lake – babsjeheron


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This post is prompted by Cee Neuner and the creative and inspiring Lens Artists Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya, all of whom encourage the community of photographers and writers. The focus for this week’s LAPC is Seen Better Days. That half a fish being carried by the Osprey was once a whole and very alive fish swimming through the lake. Those were certainly better days for that fish. Even the Great Blue Heron with her broken leg had seen better days!
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Thanks to Cee for her CBWC: Half of Anything. The Osprey is carrying half a fish. The image is straight out of the camera (SOOC), as-is except for cropping and was not artificially manipulated to become B&W. The skies were a beautiful October leaden grey.
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 168: Seen Better Days .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 168: Seen Better Days.
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 168: Seen Better Days .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 168: Seen Better Days .
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Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and they need your love.

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

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
.
Natick Town Hall
.
Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
Audubon Sanctuary
.

Be a fly on the wall! You can CLICK HERE to see the gallery walls with Herons .
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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2021 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick, Osprey, Mute Swan

Read the rest of this entry

Blue Heron Guest…Osprey’s Epic Fail?

Osprey in Autumn- babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Osprey in Autumn- babsjeheron

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The tall dead White Pine is favored by Bald Eagles, Red Tail Hawks, and Osprey that perch on branches offering excellent views of two coves. Great Blue Herons often fish the base of that tree, and it is one of my own favorite spots to fish for wildlife photos – more than a few of my favorite images on this blog were captured there.

I always scan for birds atop that tree with my binoculars before passing through the tunnel that separates the Middle and North lakes. That day, an Osprey carrying a very large fish was just about to touch down on the tree, and so I backpaddled the kayak to stay put on my side of the tunnel, and quickly retrieved the camera from beneath the cockpit deck.

Osprey Drops Prize Fish - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Osprey Drops Prize Fish – babsjeheron

Looking at the above sequence, you can see the Osprey – with its wings fanning for balance – trying mightily to secure that large fish, which swings like a pendulum beneath the branch. The above sequence took only 53 seconds, from landing on the branch with the huge prize fish to losing his grip and watching the fish plummet.

Incredulous Osprey After Dropping Prize Fish - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Incredulous Osprey After Dropping Prize Fish – babsjeheron

Poor Osprey! The expressions on its face ranged from surprise to disbelief that the fish got away. It just seemed stunned and stood there staring downward, as though looking everywhere for that fish, angling its head this way and that for a better view.

Osprey Looks Down for Dropped Prize Fish - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Osprey Looks Down for Dropped Prize Fish – babsjeheron

The Osprey stared down at the surface of the water for a long time after losing his prize catch, before taking flight nearly twelve minutes later.

Osprey Flying Away After Dropping Prize Fish - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Osprey Flying Away After Dropping Prize Fish – babsjeheron

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There’s a symbiotic relationship among the birds that perch high up in that tree and the birds that fish at the base. The Eagles and Hawks and Osprey watch for and intercept fish that elude birds fishing from the shore. And vice-versa.

And what of the fish that got away from the Osprey? You may remember that I wrote that Great Blue Herons often fish the base of that tree. I like to think that a Great Blue Heron had a tasty free lunch that day.

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This post is prompted by Cee Neuner, Debbie Smyth, Dawn Miller, and the creative and inspiring Lens Artists Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya, all of whom encourage the community of photographers and writers. The focus for this week’s LAPC is Colors of Autumn. The lead photo on this post has vibrant reds.

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Thanks to Cee for her CMMC: Autumn or Spring. Autumn leaves fit this topic.
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Thanks to Debbie for her Six Word Saturday . This post title has the requisite six words!
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Thanks to Dawn for her Festival of Leaves . This post has bright muted red autumn leaves.
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 167: Colors of Autumn .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 167: Colors of Autumn .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 167: Colors of Autumn .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 167: Colors of Autumn .
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Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and they need your love.

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

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
.
Natick Town Hall
.
Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
Audubon Sanctuary
.

Be a fly on the wall! You can CLICK HERE to see the gallery walls with Herons .
.

.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2021 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

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

Read the rest of this entry

Beautiful Great Blue Heron in Autumn and a Large Mouth Bass

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

Great Blue Heron by Falling Waters in Autumn – babsjeheron

“Lie still in a stream and breathe water. Climb to the top
of the highest tree until you come to the branch
where the blue heron sleeps. Eat poems for breakfast…”

Advice to Beginners (excerpt)
Ellen Kort


If I Had My Life to Live Over: I Would Pick More Daisies, Sandra Martz, ed.

Great Blue Herons and Red Tail Hawks often frequented this spot, fishing for the Trout, Bass, and Pickerel in the pools at the base of the falling water. Finding a Heron there when the Autumn colors were in full display was challenging and I spent many hours over 7 or 8 years hidden in my kayak across the channel in hopes of capturing a Great Blue with the striking autumn leaves. Good things come to she who waits.
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The Herons have plenty of other fishing holes nearby. And so do the humans. Bass Fishing Tournaments take place frequently – some with big bucks in prize money.
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I don’t think the Great Blue Heron in the photo sequences below paid a tournament entry fee, but he didn’t use any illegal bait to land that Largemouth Bass. I know the Bass he caught didn’t get properly weighed at take out what with having been gulped down mid-tourney, but I bet the size of that fish would have made some of the fishermen weep.
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Great Blue Heron Lands Large Mouth Bass - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Lands Largemouth Bass – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Large Mouth Bass Nbr 1- babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Walking Down the Shore Carrying the Largemouth Bass – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Large Mouth Bass Nbr 2 - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

The Heron Put Down the Bass for a Moment, then Picked it Up and Turned Around – babsjeheron

The Heron Once Again put the Bass Down then Retrieved it – babsjeheron

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The bulge in the Heron’s elongated neck in the last frame above? The Largemouth Bass. The total elapsed time between landing the Bass and the final frame above was only two and a half minutes. I’m not sure how to estimate the weight of that Bass, but I’m pretty sure any good fisherman reading this can weigh in.

I think this Bass is a bigger fish in terms of weight than the large Pike shown below. What do you think?

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

Great Blue Heron with large Pike – babsjeheron

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When I returned belatedly to the dock after one Bass tournament, the boat departures had already begun, yet there were still more than 30 boats lined up on the shore.

Bass Tournament with 30 Boats - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Bass Tournament with 30 Boats Remaining on Shore – babsjeheron

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This post is prompted by Cee Neuner, Dawn Miller, Jez Braithwaite, and the creative and inspiring Lens Artists Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya, all of whom encourage the community of photographers and writers. The focus for this week’s LAPC is Colors of Autumn. The lead photo on this post has vibrant reds.

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Thanks to Cee for her Hunt for joy. I don’t know if this challenge is still on, but I really like the idea of searching for joy. The Herons bring joy.
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Thanks to Dawn for her Festival of Leaves . This post has bright red autumn leaves.
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Thanks to Jez for the Water Water Everywhere Challenge. This post has quite a bit of water.
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 167: Colors of Autumn .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 167: Colors of Autumn .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 167: Colors of Autumn .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 167: Colors of Autumn .
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Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and they need your love.

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

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
.
Natick Town Hall
.
Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
Audubon Sanctuary
.

Be a fly on the wall! You can CLICK HERE to see the gallery walls with Herons .
.

.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2021 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

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

Beautiful Great Blue Heron Gone Fishing

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

Great Blue Heron Catching Large Fish – babsjeheron

Fresh beauty opens one’s eyes wherever it is really seen.

John Muir
The Mountains of California

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 two 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. There is one active nest visible by kayak, and another two that I’ve pegged based on observation of flight paths and satellite photos, and the two main rookeries are three to four miles distant.

Inventorying the Herons once the brooding of eggs has started is a challenge. During nesting when at least one parent adult is with the chicks at the nest round the clock 24/7, the number of birds to be found foraging along the shoreline is cut in half. 

By early August, though, when the year’s crop of nestlings has fledged and the adults are no longer needed at the nest, its easier to find the whole population.

Each year brings great relief when I find the individuals I’ve been following over the years, and also some anxiety around the missing Herons. And of course, it’s an interesting exercise to identify immatures who have gone through their molt, taking on adult plumage that alters their appearance markedly since I last had seen them the previous autumn.

Great blue heron with flowering grasses in small pond. © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron with flowering grasses in small pond – babsjeheron

The Heron shown in the long shot above is one I was anxious about that previous summer. It first started letting me photograph back in 2006, but was absent all during 2012, not a single sighting. Herons can live upwards of 15 years, with some reportedly as old as 23. It was fully adult back in 2006, when I would have pegged the age around 7, give-or-take, which might have put it around 13 that previous summer. I wondered about survival.

In my secret fantasy, the Herons who have gone missing have merely moved on to one of the other lakes or ponds in the watershed, although I know that the reality is that some simply are no more.

Imagine my elation one afternoon, then, realizing that my fantasy came true for this Great Blue Heron: for the first time in two summers, I found the Heron – plying the grassy shores of a small pond about a mile and a half from the large lake where it used to feed. I was thrilled.

However, sightings of this Great Blue Heron after the one day at that small pond continued to be elusive.

Fast forward four years and 6.6 miles. In the intervening four years, I had moved houses and with that move came walking distance access to the Charles River dam and the scenic fish ladder you can see in the photo at the top of this post.

The purpose of the fish ladder is to give fish the means to travel upstream to their spawning ground, since they cannot jump over the dam along side the ladder. I have never observed any fish swimming up the ladder, but I have seen fish tumbling down.

Which brings me back to Great Blue Herons. They love to wait at the base of the dam for unlucky fish swept over the edge.

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

Great Blue Heron at the Dam – babsjeheron

And what about the Great Blue and the Salmon shown in the top photo?

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

The Great Blue Heron tenuously worked her way up the fish ladder, scanning the rushing waters for lunch. The river was in drought conditions that subdued the usually-robust waterfall to a trickle, and her customary fishing hole at the base of the falls proved fruitless.

For more than an hour, she stalked the waters for Salmon, climbing the fish ladder slowly, intently scanning the pooled water at the base of the dam, then pausing to rest, perched there on one leg. All the while, she faced away from the torrent gushing down the ladder behind her.

I could see fish in the rushing waters and wondered if the Heron would shift her focus.

True to that Douglas Adams quote, she finally turned around and looked right at the fish ladder, and left no doubt at all about that Salmon.

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

Great Blue Heron Has Gone Fishing – babsjeheron

Fortunately for the Great Blue Heron, the ‘no fishing in fish ladder’ sign and policy don’t apply to Herons.

And fortunately, too, for this photographer who watched the exciting scene unfold.

And this is where my inner-Heron-geek gets unleashed. I have written recently about the many ways wildlife lovers can identify specific individual birds or animals: unique behaviors, specific territories, distinguishing features, scars, and more.

Remember the Great Blue Heron pictured above in that small pond with the tall golden grasses? The one I was elated to see after a two-year absence from the big lake? Four years later and 6.6 miles south, on an entirely different body of water I found that Heron again – catching a Salmon in the fish ladder.

So, sometimes birds that we think are no longer alive are still with us – they have simply moved on to on new territories.

I love happy endings.
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This post is prompted by Cee Neuner, Debbie Smyth, and the inimitable Lens Artists Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya, all of whom encourage the community. This week, the Lens Artists focus on gorgeous photos with the theme of Feet and Shoes. What a fun topic!

In the case of this Great Blue Heron, the scarred legs and damaged toes gave it away for me:

Great Blue Heron Has Gone Fishing - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Has Gone Fishing – Note inset of toes – babsjeheron

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Thanks to Cee for her CMMC: Black and White challenge
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Thanks to Debbie for her Six Word Saturday . This post title has the requisite six words!
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 161: Feet and Shoes .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 161: Feet and Shoes .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 161: Feet and Shoes .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 161: Feet and Shoes .
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Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and they need your love.

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

2015 (May), 2016 (March and July), 2018 (May, June, July), 2019 (December), 2020 (January) several one-woman photography shows at TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
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2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
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2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
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2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary
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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2021 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

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

Beautiful Great Blue Heron: The One that Didn’t Get Away

Great blue heron lands a large fish.

If birds can feel joy, this smiling Great Blue Heron certainly must be joyful in this moment – babsjeheron

If you smile at me I will understand,
‘Cause that is something everybody everywhere does in the same language.

David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Paul Kantner
Wooden Ships
Crosby, Stills & Nash

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He wasn’t one of the regulars, the usual happy fishermen and boys who gather on the sloping tunnel sides. The Great Blue Heron always gave those other fishermen a wide berth, but this man was different. He was using bait – big-looking silvery bait – and his fishing gear was ample and good.

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I nosed the kayak smoothly, silently into the middle cove, when suddenly, a flash of blue-grey to my left – the female Great Blue Heron swooped onto the western shore.

I watched her foraging from a respectful distance, not wanting to get too close lest my presence scare her off, anxious about the solo fisherman casting into the cove from his perch along the tunnel overpass.

I felt unease for the heron, but she continued prodding the mud in her corner of the shore, occasionally venturing out into deeper waters, stalking what was beneath the surface there, dallying until her interest waned or until the prey moved on.

So it went for 15 minutes or so…

And then she made her move, and strode purposefully north, until she reached the tunnel.

And the lone fisherman.

I followed behind her, 10 feet back, out of her line of sight, parallel to the shore.

In the past when she reached the tunnel, she would  rise from the water on strong wings, and cross the channel, clearing it and going fully beyond in 3 loping wingstrokes.

Each time I was there, I raised my camera to catch her mid-stroke, framed by the tunnel entrance, and this day was no different.

I got into position, focused across to where I knew her flight path to be, and waited.

… In vain, once more.

This time, she landed short of her usual place on the north shore.

She landed directly in front of the fisherman, directly in the path of his perilous casts!

I hovered on the left bank, alarmed.

Would he hook her?

Would he accidentally wrap his filament around her throat?

Would she chase after his cast and take his bait fish, swallowing hook, line, and sinker?

I paddled cross the channel and struck up my usual fisherman’s conversation with him, edging closer in to be able to rescue the heron from his line.

He settled back into the rhythm of his fishing.

Heron settled in, watching the baitfish soar out on the end of its tether, occasionally swooping out to pick up the leftovers after he reeled back in.

I settled in to squeeze off photos here and there.

We established a routine, the three of us – me in the middle, 5 feet from him, heron only 4 feet beyond me.

At least, I thought, I could rescue heron if he snagged her or if she bit down onto a hook.

And then I heard it.

Tweeee-eeee-eeet, a wavering whistle.

He was whistling to Heron!

She perked up!

And he tossed a small silvery fish her way.

She lunged and swallowed in one exquisite movement!

And so it went for the next half-hour, he would cast out, and sometimes she followed his lure, sometimes not.

Every 4th or 5th cast, he’d toss a silvery prize her way. She always took his treat and was eager for more…so eager she moved in closer and closer to him, and to me.

Too close for any good camera shots.

What should have been too close for her comfort.

Great blue heron lands a large fish - detail.

Head-shot detail – babsjeheron

As you can see from the photos here, no harm came to the Great Blue Heron that day. The final prize the fisherman tossed to her that day was this huge pike.
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I love a happy ending.

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Thanks to Cee for her CFFC: Water Found in Nature. Today’s post has water found in nature. Plus a Heron!
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This week’s Lens Artist challenge from the amazing artists Tina and Patti, Amy, and Leya, focuses on our One Photo Two Ways. My example is the full frame photo and then a crop. Readers of this blog know I’m both fine art photographer and nature photographer, but I’m also a photojournalist, a stringer for a national newspaper syndicate. The rules are vastly different for fine art and photojournalism. In journalism, no editing is permitted, not even a single pixel can be adjusted, and often times even cropping is not allowed. For fine art, sometimes it seems the opposite is expected – what makes it ‘Art’ is the artist-photographer’s manipulation of the image. The full frame photo at top is entitrly unretouched. You see it exactly as it came straight out of the camera.

Check out the Lens Artists’ beautiful photos here:

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 154: One Photo Two Ways .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 154: One Photo Two Ways .

From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 154: One Photo Two Ways .

From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 154: One Photo Two Ways .

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Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and they need your love.

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

2015 (May), 2016 (March and July), 2018 (May, June, July), 2019 (December), 2020 (January) several one-woman photography shows at TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
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2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
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2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
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2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary
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From December 4 through January 28, 2020, my Great Blue Heron photographs were once again on display on the walls of the lobby and theater in a free one-woman show at the Summer Street Gallery, of The Center for Arts in Natick.

Many of the photos in the exhibit were shown for the first time, and do not appear on the blog. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.
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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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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2021 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

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

Beautiful Great Blue Heron’s Alluring Lure (Not Art Nbr 25)

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

Great Blue Heron Fishes with Feather – babsjeheron

A recent news piece about dolphins using tools to catch fish brought to mind first-hand experience witnessing Great Blue Herons fishing with tools of their own.

At first, the Heron brandishing a feather in the top photo in this post looked playful, but then I realized the seagull feather was not a mere toy to this Great Blue Heron – it was a tool, a fishing lure she repeatedly dipped into the water to entice fishes up to the surface, making it easier for her to spear them with her stiletto beak.

Transfixed, I watched her repeat this for more than ten minutes. It looked almost ritualistic – totemic or shamanic even – to see a feathered creature brandishing a feather from a different bird in such repetitive behavior.

And then it dawned on me.

Before she first picked up the feather, she had been fishing, staring intently into the water as though tracking a fish, from the half-submerged pine trunk.

And once she picked up the feather, she continued her fishing – using the feather as bait to attract her prey, the fish.

How smart a bird and how alluring a lure she chose.

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This post is dedicated to the Lens Artist ladies (Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya) and to Cee Neuner, all of whom encourage and inspire.

This week, the Lens Artists focus on Surprise. What a surprise it was to realize the Heron was using that feather as a fishing lure.

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 103: Surprise .
From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 103: Surprise .
From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 103: Surprise .
From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 103: Surprise .

Thanks to Cee for her Hunt for joy.
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From December 4 through January 28, 2020, my Great Blue Heron photographs were once again on display on the walls of the lobby and theater in a free one-woman show at the Summer Street Gallery, of The Center for Arts in Natick.

Many of the photos in the exhibit were shown for the first time, and do not appear on the blog. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.
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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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During September and October, 2018, the Great Blue Herons were featured on the walls of the Natick Town Hall, located at 13 East Central Street in Natick, MA.
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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2020 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

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

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

Epic Great Blue Heron Swallows Ginormous Fish

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

How about a round of applause for this plucky great blue heron?

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

Did you guess that the great blue heron was successful in swallowing the fish this time? Guess again.
Note: This is Part 3 of a series of posts.
To catch up, please click here for Part 1, and click here for Part 2.

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

She has dropped the fish back into the water once more, and tries to get it into her mouth, at left.
In the next frame, she takes a rest, but notice that she holds the fish under the water with her left foot. After that short break, which lasted 11 seconds according to the timestamp, she tries again.

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

Her final attempt at swallowing the enormous fish. She pulls it from the water in the first frame, turns closer to the shore in the middle, and at right once again pulls the fish into her mouth. The photo timestamp on the last frame in this photo is 3:59:06. The timestamp on the photo at the top of this post is 3:59:07. It only took one second to flip the fish fully into her mouth. Remarkable.

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

Great blue heron after swallowing the ginormous fish. At left, the shape of the fish is visible in the heron’s neck. In the middle frame, the fish has slid farther down, and at right the heron twists her neck to the left and then to the right to hasten the fish’s movement fully down her throat.

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

She paused on the shoreline after swallowing the huge fish, and then she wandered further east. Her gait was heavy and slow, her hunger sated for days most likely. I’m not sure how much a 2+ foot-long pike weighs, but safe to say she took in a fair percentage of her own body weight in that single meal.

Eating such a large fish can be deadly for herons. While they often abandon fish that are too large to swallow – which I expected her to do that day – they sometimes swallow fish too huge for their digestive systems to process, which is fatal to both fish and bird.

It was a nature photographer’s dream to capture everything that unfolded that day, and I was thrilled at the outcome: the great blue heron got her fish.

My emotions ran the gamut from excitement (at seeing the heron near the fisherman), to apprehension (at her getting too close to him), to alarm (when he whistled to her and started feeding her baitfish), to protectiveness (when I had to move close myself in case she got tangled in fishing line), to amazement (when she surfaced with that 2+ foot fish), to curiosity (at whether she’d be able to swallow it), to anxiety (about whether any of the photos I was firing off would turn out at all), to happiness for her (when she finally swallowed the fish without choking). It was a roller coaster.

She looked beautiful walking down the shore in the late afternoon sun.

But the question remained: would she survive digesting the fish? There were flashes of dread while I was watching her, wondering if I was witnessing the ultimate cause of her demise.

Would I see her again?

The boathouse closed for the year that weekend. It would be at least seven months before that question would be answered

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Thanks to Ailsa for her Weekly Travel Theme: Still prompt. (When the fisherman tossed the enormous fish to the waiting great blue heron, I gasped, silently. While the heron attempted to eat the fish, I sat stock-still in my kayak, not daring to move lest the heron get spooked and choke on the fish.)

Thanks to Cheri Lucas Rowlands and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand prompt. She asked for jaw dropping, grand. The great blue heron literally dropped her jaw at the sight of the grand fish being reeled in, and my jaw dropped as the rest of this story unfolded that day.)

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

Thanks to Sue Llewellyn for her Word A Week Photography Challenge: Shadow challenge. I shadowed the heron for a long time, in order to make sure it wasn’t harmed by the fishing line or hooks. It is not recommended to get so close or feed any wild animals, but this bird was obviously already familiar with fishermen as food sources before that day.

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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™

(These photos were taken October 7, 2007.)

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

Great Blue Heron, Fishing, Kayaking

Great Blue Heron’s Grand Fish Adventure

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

Great blue heron trying to grasp the grand fish.

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

Great blue heron uses body English while begging for fish from the fisherman.
(Please click here to read Part 1 of this fish tale if you missed it.)

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

Great blue heron with fishing line flying over it’s head, left.
At right, catching a small bait fish tossed by the fisherman.

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

Great blue heron looking beneath the surface to find the large fish tossed to her by
the fisherman. She finds it, grasps it (as seen in the first photo at the top of
this post), then finally comes back up to the surface triumphantly clutching the prize fish.

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

She carries the fish down the shore, then washes it in the water before lifting back out.

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

She tries to swallow the huge fish, then puts it back in the water before trying again to swallow it.

There are times when a heron tries to eat a fish that is simply too large. When that happens, sometimes the heron gives up, and abandons the fish. Sometimes they don’t. When they don’t, the consequences can be serious, and not just for the fish.

To be continued…

(This post is the second part of a series. If you missed the first part, please click here to read Part 1.)

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Thanks once more to Prairiebirder Charlotte for her Feathers on Friday prompt.

Thanks to Ailsa for her Weekly Travel Theme: Still prompt. (When the fisherman tossed the enormous fish to the waiting great blue heron, I gasped, silently. While the heron attempted to eat the fish, I sat stock-still in my kayak, not daring to move lest the heron get spooked and choke on the fish.)

Thanks to Cheri Lucas Rowlands and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand prompt. She asked for jaw dropping, grand. The great blue heron literally dropped her jaw at the sight of the grand fish being reeled in, and my jaw dropped as the rest of this story unfolded that day.)

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

Thanks to Sue Llewellyn for her Word A Week Photography Challenge: Shadow challenge. I shadowed the heron for a long time, in order to make sure it wasn’t harmed by the fishing line or hooks. It is not recommended to get so close or feed any wild animals, but this bird was obviously already familiar with fishermen as food sources before that day.

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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™

(These photos were taken October 7, 2007.)

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

Great Blue Heron, Fishing, Kayaking

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