Category Archives: Kayaking

Beautiful Great Blue Herons’ Autumn Day

Great blue heron preening on log in Autumn - babsjeheron   © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Preening on Log in Autumn – babsjeheron

The map is not the territory. ~ Korzybski

The photo is not the experience. ~ Babsje

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The coldest afternoon of the season on the lake, and there I was in my protected blind in the cove with the yearling Great Blue Heron, a Green Heron, several Canada Geese and no footgear. Not expecting the chill winds, I put in barefoot, warm neoprene socks snug in the drybag stashed in the rear hatch of the kayak.

The yearling Heron had been eyeing the Geese warily after five of them flew in perfect vee formation and splash-landed about fifteen feet south of us. They had paddled lazily past us and meandered deep into the Eastern end of the cove. The Heron seemed aroused by their intrusion into his turf, but too afraid of them to do anything about it.

A detente was reached and the Heron resumed fishing for his lunch, and I resumed taking photos and shivering. Whole-body shivers that made me wonder if ANY of the photos would be free of blurring.

Klonk!

A small fish leapt forward, smack into the side of the blue kayak with a loud klonk.

The Heron didn’t bat an eye, though I suspect the fish was stunned momentarily. I peered over the side of the kayak, half-expecting to see a fish surface floating belly-up.

I had been at the lake less than two hours and was considering leaving because it was so cold, but if the young Heron could take it, then so could this human. I thought about my feet, very cold and  unprotected in the bow, and was considering make-shift socks as solutions to be able to stay out longer…

… And then it happened.

The Heron stopped fishing, he tensed visibly, and before my eyes, his plumage expanded in an unmistakable display. His back arched, tail tilted up, head tilted upwards, too.

Young male Great Blue Heron in display while approaching older female in the cove - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Young male Great Blue Heron in display while approaching older female in the cove – babsjeheron

He was looking directly at me.

But he couldn’t have seen me as an interloper suddenly. That didn’t seem possible at all, but he was looking right at me, and approaching, with an intensity in his eyes and a purposefulness in his strides.

And then, then I looked over my right shoulder…

… And saw her there…

… Not eight feet behind me – an adult female Heron, one I know from years on the lake.

She had flown down and landed eight feet from the blue kayak and Blue Heron and me. Usually, the wary Herons will over-fly if they see a kayak, but this one came right up to us. Extraordinary.

I looked directly at her, clicked off a couple of totally unfocused frames in eagerness to not miss the moment. I didn’t look in the viewfinder, just pointed the camera in the right direction and hit the shutter.

And she looked back calmy and said “Arh…” using the Heron “greeting” call.

Maybe she was greeting the other Heron, maybe she was greeting me, maybe both of us?

“Arh…” again.

Since the other Heron was in a display posture by this time, I’d like to think she was greeting me.

I backed my kayak up farther away, towards the other shore to give them more space.

The yearling Heron strutted the length of the half-submerged log and branches, plumes puffed and gorgeous.

The female watched, unmoving, unthreatened.

The yearling climbed off the branch, into the water, and waded closer to her. His plumes  returned to normal configuration, but he waded with his back arched, neck and head angled upwards in display.

And suddenly, a flurry of silken plumes as he lept into the air towards her, and she took flight towards the deep end of the cove.

He wheeled mid-air and followed suit. She rose and arced North, over the tallest pines and then curved East over the far end of the cove.

He sped after her, just above water-level, deep into the cove. When last I saw him, he was climbing swifty up into the canopy after her.

I think it was an amorous display, and not a territorial display at all – a courtship chase flight. The season was wrong for that, of course, but a couple of recent years, it had been very warm into October and some birds were showing evidence of breeding plumes growing longer. But then again, maybe it was only a territorial display.

Whichever it was, it was extraordinary to see it from so close a vantage point.

And once again, I am smitten by the Great Blue Herons.

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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 Seen Better Days. This week, I had eye surgery number five. I’ll spare you a photo of me once again wearing an eye patch this time, but needless to say I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing the Great Blue Herons better in 2022.

The next two photos are the ‘before’ and ‘after’ images from one of my favorite, most-photographed corners of the cove. That is, “most-photographed” until a greedy real-estate speculator illegally bulldozed beyond the water-line under klieg lights after dark.

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

Beautiful Great Blue Heron Fledgling Basking – babsjeheron

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

Great Blue Heron in Destroyed Habitat that had Seen Better Days – babsjeheron

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A fine was levied: $103,000. $1,000 a day for 103 days in violation of a court order. The first of the two scenes above can never be photographed again.
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Thanks to Cee for her CMMC: Autumn or Spring. This is an Autumn post.
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Thanks to Debbie for her Six Word Saturday: A few spare minutes well spent . Any minutes with the Herons are well spent!
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Thanks to Dawn for her Festival of Leaves . This post has dark red autumn leaves.
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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

Read the rest of this entry

Beautiful Great Blue Heron Breaks into Flight

Great Blue Heron With Wounded Wing Soaring - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron With Wounded Wing Soaring – babsjeheron

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 – babsjeheron

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, unmistakable 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.

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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 Artificial Light. Herons usually don’t hang out in artificial light where I live, so how about a two-fer: two full moon photos with artificial light.

Full Moon with Lights - babsje© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)heron

Full Moon with Lights – babsjeheron

Full Moon Train Mass Turnpike - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Full Moon Train Mass Turnpike – babsjeheron

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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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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 166: Artificial Light .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 166: Artificial Light .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 166: Artificial Light .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 166: Artificial Light .
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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, Full Moon
Read the rest of this entry

Beautiful Great Blue Heron on a Misty Morning

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

Great Blue Heron on Bough – 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.

No two days at the lake were the same. In literally thousands of hours in the field, I have observed a Great Blue Heron on this pine bough only once before, nearly fifteen years ago. Over the years, I’d always scan that spot with binoculars in hopes of again seeing a heron there, but always in vain…

Until that one misty Saturday morning.

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

Great Blue Heron on Bough Nbr 2 – babsjeheron

The photo here captures only the second time I’ve ever seen a Heron perched on that bough. The first time, I wasn’t able to squeeze off a photo before the Heron took flight. So this photo was a first among my tens of thousands of Great Blue Heron photos. I hope it won’t be another fifteen years for the next sighting.
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This post is prompted by the Lens Artist ladies (Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya) and Cee Neuner, all of whom encourage the community. This week, the Lens Artists focus on gorgeous photos with the theme of Your Inspiration. It is no secret that a Great Blue Heron is my muse and an inspiration. The poet William Stafford wrote an exquisite poem about muses, “When I Met My Muse.” My reading of that poem is that our muse lives inside each of us. For me, the muse is the Great Blue Heron within. As Stafford wrote

“. . . I am your own
way of looking at things,” she said. “When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation.” And I took her hand.

When I Met My Muse [excerpt]
Poem by William Stafford
Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems of William Stafford

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 160: Inspiration .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 160: Inspiration .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 160: Inspiration .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 160: Inspiration .
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Thanks to Cee for her CFFC: Blue.

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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
.
2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
.
2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary
.

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.
.

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, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick
Read the rest of this entry

Red Tail Hawks Saturday Night Bath

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

Two Red Tailed Hawks – babsjeheron

What, you were maybe expecting Great Blue Herons today?
It’s Saturday night bath time!

Rounding the corner coming out of the channel, a flash of movement to the left caught my eye. Raising binoculars, I discovered it wasn’t the Canada Goose I had expected to see. It was a Red Tailed Hawk about to launch in to the lake for a cooling bath. Thrilling. Only once before – years ago – had I seen a Hawk bathing, and here, at nearly the same spot along the shore, was another.

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

Two Red Tailed Hawks Bathing – babsjeheron

Just as I swung my camera into position, another flash of feathers. Two. There were TWO Red Tailed Hawks splashing into the lake together, bathing together while cacophonous Blue Jays and Grackles pestered from branches above.

Compare the mood of the two Red Tailed Hawks in the top photo with that in the left photo. Do you see the change, from excited animation when first landing in the water to affectionate nuzzling, as the hawks bathe together side-by-side, touching their beaks.

Hawks are very territorial, and this pair owns that piece of shoreline, although the Blue Jays who also nest in the thick stand of trees would beg to differ. The Hawks bathed in silence, seemingly oblivious to the raucous chattering from the Jays that flitted from branch to branch above them. My practice is to keep hidden from the wildlife I photograph, and if the Hawks were aware of me, they didn’t let on.

Two Red Tail Hawks Bathtime fanned tail – babsjeheron

The pair frolicked close to the shore there, dunking underneath a few times, then surfacing and shaking off the water droplets from time to time. They remained very close together the entire time, almost constantly touching. It was July, which is not traditionally mating season for Red Tails here, and son heir closeness surprised me. At one point their dance involved fanning out the beautiful red tails in display.

Red Tail Hawk Bathtime – babsjeheron

For a finale, they both ducked their heads below the surface and pointed tails skyward. They reminded me of synchronized swimmers. I have never seen wild birds so closely match their movements, as though engaged in a perfectly choreographed ballet.

Red Tail Hawk After Bathtime – babsjeheron

At the end, the male Hawk flew up into the trees and spent a long time there, preening and fluffing out and drying his feathers. The female remained in the water for a little while longer before she, too, flew off to get dry.

I paddled on back to the boathouse a very satisfied photographer. It had been an amazing day.

And do you remember back at the top of this post I had mentioned seeing another bathing Hawk in that same area of the shore? Pictured below is that young Hawk. He is an immature Red Tail who doesn’t yet have the red feathers. They turn red at around three years of age.

Young Hawk after bath – babsjeheron

Encountering the immature Hawk taking a bath happened in a way eerily similar to chancing upon the two Hawks bathing years later and only a few yards farther down the shore. My kayak rounded the corner coming out of the channel, and a burst of movement to the left caught my eye. Raising binoculars, I discovered it wasn’t a Canada Goose at all. It was a Red Tailed Hawk splashing about in the water! I didn’t know Hawks did that and I was thrilled to see it.

Below ks a photo sequence of the young Hawk’s bath. He bathed for many minutes while I was watching from a hidden spot. It was lovely to see such an endearing young bird enjoying the water. I felt very lucky to have been present.

Hawk bathing sequence - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Young Hawk bathing sequence – babsjeheron

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Not to derail my own post, for folks who have been following my attempt to find the exact age of our beautiful keyhole tunnel, I’m still getting a runaround, bouncing from historical society to historical society. However I did learn more about our gorgeous Echo Bridge, shown in this antique postcard. That is not me in the canoe.

Echo Bridge Postcard

Obligatory Great Blue Heron photograph:

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

Great blue heron foraging in the rain.

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Thanks to Debbie for her Six Word Saturday . This post title has the requisite six words!
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The always-inspiring Lens Artists Tina, Patti, Amy, and Leya are still taking a much-deserved and much-needed break for the month of July. This week’s challenge focuses on the topic of Postcards. Ana Campo from her blog Anvica’s Gallery is the host this week. I included an antique postcard of Echo Bridge today.

Thanks to Ana for her Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 159: Postcards . She has some lovely photos for this challenge at her link, check them out.
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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
.
2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
.
2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary
.

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.
.

.
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.
.

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, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick, Red Tail Hawk
Read the rest of this entry

Beautiful Great Blue Heron in Motion Blur

Great blue heron soaring above the cove.

Great Blue Heron soaring above the cove – babsjeheron

One moment the Great Blue Heron was a high-speed blur headed right towards me and the next, directly overhead – a streak of grey feathers against lush thick leaves.

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I didn’t see the Great Blue Heron until he was almost upon me, speeding west towards the channel as I paddled the kayak east, deeper into the cove. One moment he was a high-speed blur headed right towards me and the next, directly overhead – a streak of grey feathers against lush thick leaves. So close!

All I could do was aim the camera and pan.

And if both hands weren’t already occupied holding both the camera and kayak paddle, I would have crossed my fingers in hope that the photo would work out.

I only got off one frame during that encounter, the photo in this post. No time for bracketing.

Usually I don’t engage in meta talk about the photos – the photos should be part of the story of the Herons, rather than having the story be about any photographic techniques. In this case, though I’m making an exception. The motion blur in this photo is all natural, not the product of any digital darkroom magic. Given that it was taken from a moving kayak, hand held, and that the Heron was flying exceedingly fast and in the opposite direction from my own heading, this photo had a very high degree of difficulty.

What a day it was at the lake with the Heron. I love it when surprise encounters happen.

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The amazing Lens Artists Tina, Patti, Amy, and Leya are taking a much-deserved and much-needed break for the month of July. This week’s challenge focuses on the topic On The Water. John Steiner is the host this week. My photo today took place during an exciting and fun encounter on the water.

Check out John’s beautiful water photos here: Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 155: On the Water .

,
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
.
2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
.
2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary
.

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.
.

.
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.
.

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

Great Blue Herons and My 15 Minutes of Satellite Fame on the Water

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

Wherein the Great Blue Heron Sticks her Landing at the Waterfall – babsjeheron

The helicopter flew low and slow above the channel. I glanced up at it quickly to see what insignia it carried, but didn’t bother with the binoculars and so didn’t get a good look. Helicopters aren’t rare over the lake, in fact the building next door had one parked on the roof, and besides, I was in a hurry to find Great Blue Herons to photograph.

I nosed the kayak through the first tunnel, then curved sharp right into the slender finger-like cove where Herons sometimes perched. Just as the kayak slid out from under the tree canopy, I heard it again. The helicopter was flying directly over the cove. Since the cove paralleled the turnpike for a small distance, I thought maybe it was a traffic copter, put it out of mind and paddled deeper seeking out Herons.

No luck finding Herons there, I paddled back out towards the big lake. Just as I exited the cove, the helicopter reappeared, right overhead again. Seeing the same helicopter in a short timespan over a small area seemed odd. Maybe it wasn’t traffic-related, I thought, maybe it was a video crew getting some B-roll footage for TV or a movie being filmed near Boston. Whatever it was, I hoped they wouldn’t capture me. I’m notoriously camera-shy. It’s not about me, it’s about the Great Blue Herons. In school, they taught us, “Report the story, don’t BE the story.” Words to live by.
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© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Guess who in the blue kayak? – babsjeheron

By the fourth time I encountered the helicopter that morning, I decided to make contact, and gave them a big wave goodbye with my paddle and took the kayak elsewhere on the lake.

Fast forward to the next winter.

It was a stormy night, one of those howling New England winter storms that made me long for warm days on the water. That night, I was frittering away some time online before sleep, and in an idle moment wondered what the lake looked like in a satellite view.

I found the lake, at left in this next photo, and then zoomed in until I found some of my favorite nooks and crannies, and then zoomed in again. In the second frame are two light dots. I zoomed in again, and in the third frame, the dots are larger still.

And with one final click to zoom in as close in as the satelite/mapping software allows, the two dots become two vessels. One, a fishing boat. The other? A blue kayak. With me aboard.

And then it all came back to me in retrospect, the day of the helicopter. It wasn’t the traffic or news or B-roll, it was part of the Google mapping project. And my concern about being captured was NOT unfounded.

At least a viewer can’t zoom in any closer than in the top photo of this post. I can live with that degree of anonymity. I think.

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

Zooming in on the lake – babsjeheron

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Out of curiosity, I looked for a satellite image of one of the nesting islands near here. The Herons and/or their nests stand out starkly in this next image.

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

Can you count the Great Blue Herons’ nests on the island in this satellite view? – babsjeheron

By my informal count, there are at least 70 nests and/or Herons visible in that satellite view.

My heart leaps with joy at their numbers.

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Thanks to Cee for her CBWC: Trees or Tree Parts. The satellite view of the nesting island has enough trees to support.that large Heron colony.
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The amazing Lens Artists Tina, Patti, Amy, and Leya are taking a much-deserved and much-needed break for the month of July. This week’s challenge focuses on the topic On The Water. John Steiner is the host this week.

Check out John’s beautiful water photos here: Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 155: On the Water .

,
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
.
2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
.
2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary
.

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.
.

.
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.
.

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
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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
.
2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary
.

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.
.

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

We Now Interrupt our Regularly Scheduled Great Blue Heron Programming

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

Mute swan cygnets nestled between mother’s wings.
Please click here for the Swan Photo Gallery

The artist’s job is to get the audience to care about your obsessions.

 Martin Scorsese

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

The photographer is busted!! Wonder what he’s thinking as he discovers the camera.

People who know me know that my motto is “Walk softly and carry a long lens.™” Because most of the photos on this blog were taken on the water, it is especially important to give the wildlife an extra-wide margin of personal space so as to not endanger them in any way by venturing too close. As much as I take special precautions to remain hidden from their view, including use of telephoto lenses and natural-cover hides, every once in a while the wildlife sees me. And every once in a while when that happens, the result is humorous, like the cygnet in the above photo, staring straight at my camera. The other photos from that day’s series show the mother swan serenely ferrying her brood about the lake, but this one has that extra-extra something.
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© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Wait for Meeee!! Mute swan cygnet tries to fly.

Most birds nest in trees, and when it comes time to kick the babies out of the nest, gravity plays a big role in the fledgling efforts to fly. Not so for birds like swans that nest on the ground. Fledgling swans must propel themselves UP, not DOWN like tree nesters. Maybe the cygnet at far right in the above photo is saying “Wait for me!” as the conga line of swans moves forward. Or just maybe he is trying out his little wing muscles and learning to fly.
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And since this is a Great Blue Heron space after all an obligatory Heron photo …

Chih-chih-chih… chih-chih-chih… chih-chih-chih… changes.

It’s not just a David Bowie song.

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

Great Blue Heron and Four Chicks in Nest

It is music to my ears, the sounds of Great Blue Heron chicks in the nest: chih-chih-chih… chih-chih-chih… chih-chih-chih…
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This week’s Lens Artist challenge from Patti, with Tina, Amy, and Leya, focuses on things from Large to Small. The photos in today’s post showcase the size differences between adult birds and their chicks. The mute swan cygnets are dwarfed by the parents and ride on the parent’s back until they are strong enough to paddle about on their own. The great blue heron chicks femain in the nest totally depending on food from their parents until they have developed wing feathers and strength that allow fledging.

Check out the Lens Artists’ Large to Small photos here:

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 151: From Large to Small .
From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 151: From Large to Small .
From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 151: From Large to Small .
From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 149: Cool Colors – Blue and Green .

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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
2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary

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.
.

.
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.
.

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

Great Blue Heron and Friends’ Saturday Night Baths

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

Mute Swan Bathing Beauty – babsjeheron

Rubber Duckie you’re the one,
You make bathtime lots of fun,
Rubber Duckie I’m awfully fond of you
Vo-vo-dee-o!

Jeff Moss
The Sesame Street Songbook

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

Two Red Tailed Hawks – babsjeheron

Great blue heron taking a bath.

Great blue heron continues bathing after turning around.

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Great blue heron bathing.

Great blue heron bathing.

Great Blue Heron feathers fray and yet still retain their beauty. Frayed chest feathers are combed with a specially adapted claw, and a whitish powder down dusting protects the heron from oils and surface scum from the water. After a Great Blue Heron takes a birdbath, a filmy white coating of powder down often remains behind floating on the water. A heron taking a bath is an amusing sight to behold.

Paddling around the bend at the far end of the middle pond, I caught a glimpse of a great blue heron lurking at the eastern end of the cove. Through the binoculars it looked like the heron was in a territorial display, erect back feathers gleaming in the bright sun. My pulse quickened. It’s always exciting to capture a territorial encounter between two herons with a camera.

The glare on the water made it difficult to be certain where the other bird was, and I needed to keep a good distance to not disturb their interaction. I was assuming that the territorial stance was directed at another bird, but try as I might, I couldn’t find any other herons nearby. I followed the heron’s gaze, looking for any antagonist in his line of sight, to no avail.

Confused about the heron’s behavior, I decided to just bide my time, and settled the kayak along the opposite shore, downwind and hidden from view.

A few minutes passed, with the heron still in a territorial pose.

A few more minutes, and suddenly the heron immersed itself fully under the water. Then that stiletto beak broke the surface, and the heron splashed up a froth of water.

The heron was taking a bath!

Great blue heron taking a bath.

Great blue heron taking a bath.

In nearly a decade of watching herons, this was only the second time I’d ever seen one bathing. I sat there mouth agape, watching and taking photographs as quickly as possible.

Great blue heron taking a bath.

Great blue heron continues bathing after turning around.

I stayed there sharing bath time with the heron until an interloper in an inflatable boat flushed the heron off, but even that couldn’t wipe the silly smile from my face.

Great blue heron on bath day.

Great blue heron on bath day.

Herons aren’t necessarily known for being playful when they’re alone, but perhaps bath time is a playful exception. That’s my story theory, and I’m sticking to it.
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.Bonus Bird:

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

Rubber Ducky at the Lake – babsjeheron

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This week’s Lens Artist challenge from Tina, with Patti, Amy, and Leya, focuses on on the.colors blue and green. Did you know that although Ardea herodias is known as the Great Blue Heron, it’s feathers are not actually blue at all? Have a look at the masthead art at the top of this page of my blog. That is a photo I took of an aigrette feather from a great blue heron. There is nothing blue about it. The secret that makes feathers appear blue to the human eye is the result of refraction. It is the play of light on the structure of the feather that allows our eyes to perceive blue.

Check out the Lens Artists’ Blue and Green photos here:

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 149: Cool Colors – Blue and Green .
From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 149: Cool Colors – Blue and Green .
From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 149: Cool Colors – Blue and Green .
From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 149: Cool Colors – Blue and Green .

.
.
,
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
2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary

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.
.

.
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.
.

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 at an Exhibition (Quirky Artist Stories Nbr 19)

Great blue heron in the cove, foraging.

Great Blue Heron foraging amongst water lilies in the cove – babsjeheron.

Plop – bird poo splatted on my shoulder!”

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My first paying photography gig was hanging a Diane Arbus exhibit, for minimum wage. I was at university taking a course in graphic design then, and I was thrilled by the exposure to her work first-hand. The job was a nail-biter though and my boss Leo sternly exhorted us “Whatever you do, don’t cut yourself!” All of the photographs were originals, not reproductions. They were mounted in floating glass frames, the kind with only glass, no wood or metal around the borders. The glass edges were not beveled and were extremely sharp – there was a high risk of getting cut and bleeding on the art that could have ruined her work. It was intense but so rewarding, and no blood was shed that show.
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Fast forward to a few years ago. The photo in this post was one of the cornerstone pieces in a one-woman show I had. As you can see, there’s no evidence of Arbus’ influence in that photo.

Although…

The day of my artist reception, I spent some time sitting outside on a bench before going inside to meet & greet gallery visitors. I sat there under the trees, composing myself and enjoying the dappled sunlight when i felt it.

Plop!

A present from an overhead bird landed on my shoulder, anointing me with sacred bird poo, an ironic baptism for a bird photographer.

I think Arbus would have appreciated the irony.

(There are those who consider getting pooped on by a bird to be good luck…)
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Fast forward again a few more years…

The southwest staircase wall was empty – a blank white space stared at me starkly from the landing between floors. The framed great blue heron was gone!
Shades of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist

Someone had been in the house, but who?

Time for Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to get on the case of the purloined photo.

Had a burglar made off with the heron?

Was anything else missing?

Was he still in the house?

Was it safe for me to be there alone?

My sensitive radar for danger didn’t kick in this one time – I didn’t “sense” anyone lurking about in the broad daylight. The 19th century wood floors gave no telltale creaks of footfalls, and, most significantly, the dog snored loudly on his cushion.

I roused the dog and gingerly we checked all the rooms, upstairs and downstairs – looking behind doors, peering into closets and even behind the shower curtain.

Whomever it was, was gone.

A relief.

And a mystery: nothing else seemed to have been disturbed, nothing else missing. Just that one great blue heron photo.

It is a good photograph – one of my favorite painterly photos, one I’m proud of, and definitely “art.”

But definitely not great art.

Yet it was missing,

Had someone thought it valuable enough to steal?

How much self-flattery would it take for me to believe that someone entered my home and stole a photograph, yet left behind anything else of value? A lot. I would really have to be flattering myself a lot to believe that.

And yet the great blue heron was missing, and remained missing.

Until…

Until I opened the built-in pantry cupboard two days later, and found the missing photograph. The glass had been partly shattered and the frame dinged a bit, but the print, itself, was undamaged.

A relief.

And another mystery: who hid the heron photograph in my pantry, and why?

The mystery became amusing, and I had a bit of fun imagining scenarios once I realized that the heron hadn’t been purloined.

My landlord’s son solved the mystery a few days later: he had accidentally bumped into the framed print on the staircase wall while taking something up to the attic. The painting fell and he hid it in the pantry. His plan was to get a new pane of glass and replace the photo before I noticed it missing. What a sweet, thoughtful young man.

And what fun entertaining the thought – if only for the fleetingest of moments – that someone might have liked this photo enough to take it for themselves.

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This week’s Lens Artist challenge from Tina, with Patti, Amy, and Leya, focuses on on the.colors blue and green. Did you know that although Ardea herodias is known as the Great Blue Heron, it’s feathers are not actually blue at all? Have a look at the masthead art at the top of this page of my blog. That is a photo I took of an aigrette feather from a great blue heron. There is nothing blue about it. The secret that makes feathers appear blue to the human eye is the result of refraction. It is the play of light on the structure of the feather that allows our eyes to perceive blue.

Check out the Lens Artists’ Blue and Green photos here:

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 149: Cool Colors – Blue and Green .
From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 149: Cool Colors – Blue and Green .
From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 149: Cool Colors – Blue and Green .
From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 149: Cool Colors – Blue and Green .

.
.
,
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
2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary

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.
.

.
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.
.

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

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