Category Archives: Mute Swan

Mute Swans Saturday Night Bath Time

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

Mute Swan Bathing Beauty – babsjeheron

Another bath? Do we have to?

Well it IS Saturday and that does mean bath day – even for birds.

That Saturday, I was tired, and the journey back to the home dock would take another hour and a half. I had already bagged a fair number of Great Blue Heron captures and was eager to take out.

From a distance, I gave a passing glance at the southern shoreline and saw the usual pair of Mute Swans floating in their usual spot, and so I paddled on.

Rounding the curve below the Labs, coming closer to the Swans, I noticed an odd-looking thrashing and splashing unlike any Swan behavior I’d seen before.

Binoculars up, I sat transfixed, watching from across the channel as one of the Swans took a Saturday bath. Amazing.

Many of us have seen Robins, or Warblers, or other small songbirds splashing about in a backyard garden birdbath. Now, imagine a bird with a 7-to-8 foot wingspan behaving just the same – dunking their head and neck fully below the surface, coming back up to shake off the water, rearing up on legs, wings akimbo flapping and expelling droplets galore, and preening, preening, preening to sort out feathers. The Swan’s bath lasted more than 15 minutes. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. i took just over 250 photographs in that 15 minutes. Canon burst mode for the win.

Mute Swan Bathing Nbr 3 – babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Mute Swan Bathing Nbr 3 – babsjeheron

And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

The Swan, Excerpt.
Mary Oliver,
Swan: Poems and Prose Poems

Mute Swan Bathing Nbr 2 - babsjeheron  © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Mute Swan Bathing Nbr 2 – babsjeheron

Obligatory. What’s a Saturday night bath without a Rubber Ducky!

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

giant inflated rubber ducky floating © 2020 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Rubber Ducky at the Lake – babsjeheron

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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 Feet and Shoes. What a fun topic! Did you know that Great Blue Herons have webbed toes? Here’s one example:

The circle shows webbing between two toes

Great Blue Heron in the Rain Nbr 2 – babsjeheron The circle shows webbing between two toes

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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Thanks to Cee for her CFFC: Blue.

Thanks to Paula for her Thursdays Special: Pick a Word in July: Flow. The water flow cascaded off the Swan as she bathed.

Thanks to Debbie for her Six Word Saturday . This post title has the requisite six words!

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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.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Great Blue Heron, Mute Swan, Kayaking, 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 .

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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

And Have You Changed Your Life?

And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

The Swan (excerpt)
Swan: Poems and Prose Poems
Mary Oliver

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

Two Mute Swans Aloft

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

Two Mute Swans change their course, their life.

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This week’s photo challenge is cover art. We were challenged to offer a photo to be used as the cover for a book. The two photos in this post could be used as the front and back covers for Mary Oliver’s exquisite Swan poetry. Her line “and have you changed your life” is shown in the course change of the two swans between the first and second photos. Perhaps they are taking a road less traveled in the second frame? The proposed book cover intentionally has no title or text on either front or back, they would display only on the book’s spine. Thanks to Pete R and WordPress for this topic.

Thanks also to Leanne Cole and Laura Mackey for hosting the Monochrome Madness challenge. These photos are actually in color, they have not been manipulated to simulate black & white. I love it when nature presents us her monochrome palette – there is something evocative about layered grey skies.
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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

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

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Mute Swan, Kayaking

In a Teachable Moment

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

Mute swan cygnet tries to fly.

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Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts. Unlike tree-top dwellers who launch out of the nest for their maiden flight, the swans’ process of learning to fly is quite a contrast: the cygnet must develop sufficient wing muscle bulk, not to mention huge feathers, in order to achieve that first lift-off from the water’s surface. The male parent shows the cygnets how this is done by example, flapping his enormous wings as he advances across the water and finally upwards, the percussive slaps of his wings as they strike the surface resounding through the air like canon shot. I had been observing the swan family in this photo for several weeks, watching the father demonstrate his take off technique back and forth across the small lake. Then, one day, one of the cygnets imitated his father, rearing up in the water, trying to scoop the air with his budding wings to achieve liftoff. At this stage in his development, though, he lacked flight feathers and so his baby wings seemed more like plucked chicken wings than anything else. It was an endearing spectacle!

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

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

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

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Mute Swan, Cygnet

More Eye Candy: New Swan Photo Gallery

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

Two mute swans on their nest. The male is sitting on the clutch of eggs..

Please click here for the new Swan Photo Gallery.

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

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

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Mute Swan, Swan, Photo Gallery

“My What Big Wings You Have!” Exclaimed Goldilocks to the Swan

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

How delicate the three-day old cygnets look between their massive parent swans.
Please click here for the new Swan Photo Gallery

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

Thanks once more to Danielle H and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Between.

Thanks to Sue for her A Word A Week Photo Challenge: Delicate.

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

Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.

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

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

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Cygnets, Mute Swan, Kayaking

Waiting in the Wings

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

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

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Thanks to Danielle H and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Between.

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

Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.

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

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

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Cygnets, Mute Swan, Kayaking

Busted!

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

Wonder what he’s thinking as he discovers the camera.

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Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Extra-Extra. 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 middle of today’s 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.

Thanks to Sue for her A Word A Week Challenge: Happy. The cygnet in the middle brought a big smile when I downloaded the photos from this session.

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

Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.

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

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

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Mute Swan, Kayaking

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Male mute swan incubates eggs in the nest.

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

Female mute swan joins male, who is sitting on their clutch of eggs in the nest.

During breeding season, the easiest way to differentiate between male and female mute swans is by comparing the black knob at the base of the male’s beak. During nesting time, the cob (male) has an enlarged black knob compared to the smaller one of the pen (female).

If you look closely at the two nesting swans shown here, the swan sitting on the eggs has the enlarged knob signifying a male.

This is only the second time I have ever observed two mute swans on a nest together – a couple of weeks ago was the first sighting. Looking at that first photo (click here) it was the female sitting on the eggs back then.

My takeaway from observing these two at their nest over the past three weeks is that (some) mute swan pairs share (some) responsibility for incubating their eggs. I am not sure if they share that duty as equally as other birds, such as the great blue heron, or how universal this behavior is for other mute swans of North America. It’s a bit of a mystery.

I love a good mystery.

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Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Extra-Extra. This week, Michelle has challenged us to post a photo with an extra, unexpected detail. Seeing that it was the male swan incubating the eggs – and not the female – was an extra detail, one that I nearly missed, until I looked more closely at the photos from that day’s session.

Thanks to Sue for her A Word A Week Challenge: Happy. I’m guessing that the female swan is happy to have an egalitarian mate, one who shares the traditionally female chore of sitting on the eggs.

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

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

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Mute Swan, Kayaking

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