Category Archives: Nature

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 about 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

.
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.

.
.

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

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.
.

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

Great Blue Herons Guest…Philosopher? (Thoreau on Walden Pond)

Walden Pond reflection - New Year's Eve.

Walden Pond reflection – babsjeheron

…nature is one and continuous everywhere.

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

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

Thoreau contemplating snow in front of his cabin at Walden Pond – babsjeheron

Walden Pond is a grounded space, a grounding place that I like to revisit around the start of each new year, and my intention one New Year’s Eve was a solitary sojourn. It was sublime that day, wandering the pond’s shoreline in solitude.

I was alone there save for Henry David Thoreau standing next to his small cabin. Someone earlier had placed a carved piece of snow in his hand, and it was amusing to see Thoreau staring at it intently, as if contemplating snow. It was a perfect, light-hearted grace note.

And did Henry David Thoreau ever conjure up a snowman to keep him company at Walden Pond when in a whimsical mood one day?

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

Snowpilgrim at Walden Pond in the waning light – babsjeheron

Perhaps, perhaps not, but someone else did.

This snowpilgrim sat perfectly still like that for hours while I wandered around. I believe she was meditating.

She had melted a little from the traditional configuration. Or maybe I’m mistaken and it never was stacked with three large balls of snow like a classical snowman at all. After all, Thoreau wasn’t much of a traditionalist. So perhaps it always was in this pose, gazing out over the waters, thinking mysterious things?

The setting sun cast wintry golden light through the trees on the far shore, reflecting the sky and horizon on the softly frozen water. I had Walden Pond all to myself then – except for that sculpted snowperson watching over the shore and Henry David Thoreau contemplating snow.
.
.
What about the Great Blue Herons you usually see in my blog? Where would Thoreau stand on Herons? I’ll let Ralph Waldo Emerson respond:

“…Our naturalist had perfect magnanimity; he had no secrets; he would carry you to the heron’s haunt, or even to his most prized botanical swamp, — possibly knowing that you could never find it again, yet willing to take his risks. ”

Excerpted from
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Eulogy of Henry David Thoreau, May 9, 1862, Atlantic Monthly, 1862

.
Obligatory Great Blue Heron photograph:

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

Young Great Blue Heron in Molt – babsjeheron

.
.

Thanks to Cee for her CMMC Challenge: July. I chose tan as the topic from her photo. Thoreau’s cabin had tan siding.
.
Thanks to Nancy Merrill for her A Photo a Week Challenge: Reflection. Two images in my post show reflections on Walden Pond.
.

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 Along Back Country Roads. Beth Smith from her blog Wandering Dawgs is the host this week. There are a couple of different ways to get to Walden Pond. my favorite is the back road way.

Thanks to Beth for her Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 158: Along Back Country Roads . There are a couple of different ways to get to Walden Pond. my favorite is the back road way. To learn more about the Walden Pond Visitor Center CLICK HERE.
.

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, Walden, Thoreau
Read the rest of this entry

Great Blue Herons Abundant Nests (Not Art Nbr 29)

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

Great Blue Heron flying from the nesting island across the channel to gather twigs – babsjeheron

With upwards of fifty Great Blue Heron nests, this island is absolutely ripe with new beginnings, with the seeds of new life.

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

Six Great Blue Heron nests on the island. The flying Heron in the top photo here is the same Heron flying up to it’s mate in this photo – babsjeheron Click here to see a panorama showing thirty-two occupied nests.

[Note: Ordinarily, I feel that if I need to use yellow circles to point out features in a photo, I’m on a slippery slope and probably shouldn’t publish them, but it was an extraordinary experience to see such abundant Great Blue Heron nesting (and mating) taking place on the island, so I’ve made an exception.]

I stood along the shoreline, binoculars trained on the island, trying to count nests and Great Blue Herons. The island is a good distance from shore and even at a healthy magnification through the binocs, that is a challenge. It occurred to me it would be easier to take a series of photos and stitch them together and count the nests and birds that way.

Sweeping the camera from West to East the length of the island for the panorama, I had zoomed in on a nest with a Heron that was closest to me, and suddenly out of the corner of my eye realized that a second Heron was making a beeline across the channel, flying fairly low across the waters towards me.

I started firing off frames – with little time for re-focusing – and at the last moment, only a couple of yards from shore and me, the Heron shown in the top photo in this post arced sharply upwards into the stand of tall pines along the shore to my right.

The pine bough shook and bounced and then quivered under the bird’s weight, and then the Heron poked up its head and looked straight at me.

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

Great Blue Heron bouncing after landing in the pines, then turning to look at me – babsjeheron

The Great Blue Heron climbed higher into the pine, in and out of view, and then – just as suddenly as it had arrived – it took off back to the island.

I watched it course across the lake and then up, up to the top of the trees there, landing at the nest.

I watched some more through the binocs, and the Heron once again made a beeline for me, only to soar into the nearby pines once again at the last minute. I watched the boughs bounce and the Heron clamber about in the tree for five to ten minutes before it returned to the nest across the waters.

This odd behavior repeated itself several more times before I was able to get a proper focus on the Heron as it was about to leave the pine on my shore and return to the nest. This time I saw it: the Heron had a long twig dangling from its bill as it swooped down from the pine.

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

Great Blue Heron leaves the pine tree carrying a twig for the nest across the channel – babsjeheron

It was building a nest, gathering its lumber from off-island. Until that day, I had never before seen nest building in person, how exciting that was.

I then focused the binocs back on the nest to better watch the Heron weaving the twigs into the nest and it was then that I noticed: not one, but two Great Blue Herons in the nest. Two adults. Two adults building their nest together. Thrilling to watch.

After a while, they celebrated the day’s nest building efforts with full-on mating – more thrilling, an incredible sight even from the distant shore.

I took more than 500 photos that day. The island is far from shore and totally inaccessible to man: boating is prohibited and there are no access roads. There isn’t much detail in many of the photos here, and they are not art, but I wanted to share that experience with you. Readers of this blog know I’m both fine art photographer and nature photographer, and the only “fine art” in today’s post is that of the Great Blue Herons, themselves, building their nests. There is no doubt that buildibg large sturdy nests is an art, nests that are capable of keeping eggs and chicks safe in our often wild New England weather.

I am enamored of that Great Blue Heron, his industriousness in foraging for twigs and taking them back to his mate in the nest. That Heron had come to know me from my frequent walks along the shoreline there. I’m humbled that he accepted my presence that day of nest building and mating.

Click here to see a panorama showing thirty-two occupied nests.
.
.

Thanks to Cee for her CMMC Challenge: July. I chose trees and green as the topic from her photo. Green pine trees are abundant and blanket the nesting island and shoreline across the channel.

.
Thanks to Debbie for her One Word Sunday: Count.
.

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 Along Back Country Roads. Beth Smith from her blog Wandering Dawgs is the host this week. This memorable encounter with the Great Blue Heron gathering twigs for the nest took place during a walk along a road near my home.

Thanks to Beth for her Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 158: Along Back Country Roads . This Great Blue Heron encounter took place during a walk along a road near my home.
.

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
Read the rest of this entry

Mindfulness and the Great Blue Herons

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

Great Blue Heron rises sharply upwards as it passes by me – babsjeheron.

And the Herons? They’re a study of Patience and Grace

I went for a long walk late Sunday afternoon along the sidewalk that follows the contour of the reservoir that holds the nesting island. In places, the path is right next to the rocky shoreline, and in others the terrain between the path and the water’s edge is thinly forested with old growth white pines and cherry, apple, and dogwood, and oak and maples, all blanketed by tall ferns and ground foliage. At this time of year, the ground plants are just beginning to sprout and the leaves on the bushes and shorter trees have not yet started, so there is a clear view through the woods to the water.

Many creatures live there, and every walk I take seems to reveal more of them. Last night, it was a large cottontail rabbit. Saturday night, a lone young Canada Goose that had gotten stranded on the wrong side of the path and needed some encouragement to dip beneath the guardrail to safety. It was fascinating to see the parent Goose demonstrate to junior how to navigate under that guardrail. We don’t often see wildlife actively teaching their young.

Sunday, as I was walking, something made me stop suddenly and drew my attention to the right, into the woods and trees. From where I was at that moment about fifteen feet of thin, tall trees and underbrush sloped gently downward to the shoreline, and there, not ten feet away, stood a Great Blue Heron.

They are usually very shy and erupt into flight at the first sensing of an approaching human, but for some reason this Heron remained stock still. We stood there, staring eye-to-eye for a long, long time, though it could not have been more than twenty seconds. His eyes, doe eyes almost, soft eyes, like those of a deer. His long bill, the orange-yellow of Aztec gold. His cap feathers, pure white. It felt as though I was looking at a being of kindness and intelligence, and an equal.

The silence between us was absolute.

We stood there, eyes-locked, watching each other, absorbing in full stillness, and then he leaned forward and lifted skyward in absolute silence, not an audible rustle of feather in the unfurling of exquisite wings – just soundless, effortless flight.

Suddenly, I wished I had brought a camera, and then just as quickly, I dismissed that wish – had the camera been there, I would have missed that experience. Instead of sharing stillness with the Great Blue Heron, I would have been absorbed in things like aiming and focusing and f-stops and bracketing and all of the composition things we photographers do; by then the Heron would have flown away, alarmed by my fidgeting with the gadgetry, and I would have missed the moment.

So, what does this story have to do with my photography? I used to do a lot of photographing in the mountains near Santa Cruz, with the vistas of mist-shrouded hilltop after hilltop marching to the Pacific Ocean, and along the Pacific Coast at sunset – hundreds of hours seeking to capture the perfect sunset moment, until one day I realized I was missing the moment IN the moment by working so hard to preserve it for future viewing.

Technology had gotten in the way of experiencing the moment right then and there, in the now.

What does this story have to do with my photos? It’s a lesson in our choice to be present in the moment, as I was with the Heron that afternoon, instead of focusing on the technology of recreating that moment for the future. It’s a lesson in mindfulness.

And the Herons? They’re a study of Patience and Grace.

.
.
.

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.

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

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 Along Back Country Roads. Beth Smith from her blog Wandering Dawgs is the host this week. This memorable encounter with a Great Blue Heron took place during a walk along a road near my home.

Thanks to Beth for her Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 158: Along Back Country Roads . This Great Blue Heron encounter took place during a walk along a road near my home.

,
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
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.

.

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.
.
.Bonus Bird:

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

Rubber Ducky at the Lake – babsjeheron

.

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!”

.

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.
.

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…)
.
.
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.

.

.
.

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 Herons’ Nest Construction Dance (Memory Lane Nbr 2)

The herons engage each other during a break in nest building.

Great Blue Herons engage each other during a break in nest building.

Can you almost hear someone singing that old chestnut, “I only have eyes for you, dear?”

.

The above sequence of frames taken during a break in nest building that day in May shows the obvious connection between the mated pair of Great Blue Herons.

© 2016 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Landing at Nest with Branch for Nest Building – babsjeheron

On one of his stick-gathering forays, the young male great blue heron retrieved a branch that was longer then his wingspan and carried it across the channel back to the island where his mate waited patiently.

It was a very macho thing to do – he was clearly out to impress her, and show what a good provider he could be. (Forgive me for anthropomorphizing.)

Once back at the nest, it took a very long time for him to maneuver the branch into a good position for her to grasp it, and the two herons both held the branch in their beaks at the same time, twisting and turning it around and then upside down. At one point, they both held it nearly vertical and their struggle with the branch brought to mind that iconic photo of the troops raising the flag at Iwo-Jima.

Positioning the huge stick upright and then it starts to fall...

Positioning the huge stick upright and then it starts to fall…

I could see all of that through the binocs, but it was too far to make out the finer details of their construction dance.

After downloading the photos at night, I could see more clearly their teamwork in trying to negotiate such a large branch into position and weave it into the nest.

Incredibly, at one point, while the female is holding the larger end of the branch horizontally in her beak, the male has managed to maneuver himself underneath the rest of the branch. And then he tucked into position so that the branch straddled his shoulder area, bearing all the weight with his upper back while his mate got a better purchase on it, just like a human construction worker will balance a beam on his shoulders or back. You can see this in the next sequence of frames here.

The new stick is so large the female props it on the male's back for an assist.

The new stick is so large the female props it on the male’s back for an assist.

Amazing!

It took them quite a while to position the branch just so in the nest, and there  were a few cliffhanger moments as the branch nearly escaped their beaks’ grasp and almost plummets to the island floor 70 feet below.

Recovering from almost dropping the ginormous stick while nest building.

Recovering from almost dropping the huge stick while nest building.

When the branch was secured into position, it was the female’s turn to fly off in search of the next  stick for the nest. Unlike her macho mate, five minutes later she returned to the nest with a dainty, foot-long twig. I think they were both in the mood for an easier time of it, consruction-wise.

.
Thanks to Cee for her CFFC: Birds. The twilight sky bathed the ducks and heron in an ever-deepening purplish hue, and the color of the kayak takes on a purple tone in some conditions.

.

The very creative Lens Artists – Patti, Tina, Amy, and Leya – focus on Spots and Dots this week. Because it’s a beautiful day in May, I’m feeling nostalgic for one of my favorite spots, the nesting island. I hope I’m forgiven for a less-literal interpretation of spots! Check out the Lens Artists here:

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 148: Spots and Dots .
From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 148: Spots and Dots .
From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 148: Spots and Dots .
From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 148: Spots and Dots .

.
.
,

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.
.

.
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.
.

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 Gets the Point (Memory Lane Nbr 1)

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

Solar Twinkle Spots and My Kayak – babsjeheron

Life spreads itself across
the ceiling to make you think
you are penned in, but that
is just another gift. Life takes
what you thought you couldn’t live
without and gives you a heron instead.

On the Meaning of (excerpt)
Linda Back McKay

The Next Best Thing: Poems

.
My goal that December was to spend New Year’s Eve out on the lake in my kayak. Mother Nature had other ideas, and the lake was frozen over on December 31st. This was the last kayak photo that year. The sparkling spots were from sunlight glinting on the slushy ice.
.
Changing the subject for a moment, I am recovering from some foot and eye injuries that mean I won’t be in my kayak any time soon. I long to be out with my Heron friends and that poem is a source of optimism. Please humor me as I’ve combined three photo challenges here. Reading and writing are a challenge these days.
.
.
Changing the subject once again, fall migration can be very exciting in the cove, and no two years are alike. The scene below shows my favorite spot on the water, as my favorite Great Blue Heron was literally overrun by ducks who had been practicing their take offs and landings ahead of migrating. By the following evening, they were all gone, off to their winter grounds.
.

The first wave of incoming ducks approaches the great blue heron.

For twelve minutes the ducks arrived non-stop…

.

Even more incoming ducks approaching the great blue heron as twilight deepens.

…in wave after wave overtaking the Heron as purple twilight deepened – babsjeheron.

.

And just for the lighter side, I saved the best for last:

Great blue heron in molt preening.

Great blue heron in molt preening – babsjeheron.
(Here’s the carrot…but where’s the stick?)

i took many photos of the above Great Blue Heron preening, and his bill poked through on only one single frame. It was a blink and you would have missed it moment. In fact, I did miss it entirely there in the cove real-time. Only did I see it when flipping through the downloaded photos. I like those sorts of surprises!

.
Thanks to Cee for her CMMC Color Purple. The twilight sky bathed the ducks and heron in an ever-deepening purplish hue, and the color of the kayak takes on a purple tone in some conditions.

.
Debbie’s One Word Sunday’s prompt asks for posts with a Point . Do you like the humorous carrot-like point of the heron’s bill as it penetrates his wing feathers while preening? The kayak bow is also a pointy thing.

.

The inspiring Lens Artists – Patti, Tina, Amy, and Leya – focus on Spots and Dots this week, with some very unique photos on their sites. Check them out:

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 148: Spots and Dots .
From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 148: Spots and Dots .
From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 148: Spots and Dots .
From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 148: Spots and Dots .

.
.
,

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.
.

.
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.
.

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 and an Unusual Boat Garden

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

Great Blue Heron Fledgling in Territorial Display at Sunken Boat – babsjeheron

Sometimes no matter how well a photographer plans, the wildlife model has others ideas, and this was one of those times.

.
.
Totally unaware of the fledgling great blue heron beside the boat garden stalking him with increasing speed and determination, the yearling heron plied the shoreline. Perhaps it was his curiosity about the fire pit on the lake-front beach that led him to put his guard down?

One of my favorite locations for photographing herons is this partly-sunken boat “garden.” Every year, the property owners plant a different crop and it is a delight in late spring or early summer to see what is growing. One year the boat contained tubs of cherry tomatoes that looked delectable when fully ripe, the bright red of the fruit promising sweetness. In other years, the focus is flowers, like the gladiolus here.

Whenever I paddle to that area of the lake to see how that garden is doing, I try for heron photos with the boat garden. Photographing them there is tricky because the angle of the sun is good for only a short while each day: it’s in the shadows in the morning and for much of the afternoon the light is too harsh. Even when the light is good, of course there’s no guarantee that there will be any herons around.

That day, I was in luck – a yearling great blue heron foraged along the shore to the north of the boat garden. Most great blues follow a consistent direction when fishing along the shore. Just like “mall walkers” who get their exercise by walking a circuit around a mall before the shops open, herons generally pick a direction and follow that direction. That day, it was looking good because the yearling was heading down the shore in the direction of the boat garden – a photo op in the making!

But sometimes no matter how well a photographer plans, the wildlife model has others ideas, and this was one of those times. The yearling heron lazily worked his way up to the boat and just when I was ready for shots of the heron moving along in front of the boat, it ducked behind the stern, instead, and proceeded south, obscured by the towering gladiolus in the boat!

Anticipating that the yearling would eventually emerge from behind the boat garden, I shifted my focus towards the south and waited for the heron to catch up.

Suddenly, I heard a slight rustle overhead. I looked up and saw a fledgling great blue heron perching on a limb directly over the beach where the other heron was curiously investigating the fire pit.

The fledgling swooped out of the canopy and landed just to the north of the boat garden and suddenly took on a territorial posture. This was the first time I had seen a fledgling put a genuine territorial display to use against an older, larger heron.

With his back feathers erect, the fledgling strutted down the shore towards the yearling, who was engrossed with the fire pit. A few moments after the photo shown above, though, the older heron caught sight of the aggressive fledgling bearing down on him and burst from the sand out over the water, heading southwest.

The fledgling, having proved his mettle and securing both the beach and his status as an alpha bird, relaxed his pose and spent several minutes exploring the boat garden before eventually flying off to the north.

What a thrilling experience to see a very young great blue heron assert dominance over an older and larger heron.

.

The fabulous Lens Artists – Patti, Tina, Amy, and Leya – focus on Gardens this week. Sincerely, I don’t know how they consistently produce such in-depth posts week-in-and-week-out and the same goes for Cee’s many challenges: I especially appreciate Cee’s “Hunt for Joy” theme.

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 147: Gardens .
From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 147: Gardens .
From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 147: Gardens .
From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 147: Gardens .
.

And thanks to Cee for her Hunt for joy.
.
.
,

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.
.

.
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.
.

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 Photographer Don’t Let Their Broken Legs Get Them Down (Quirky Artist Stories Nbr 18)

Great blue heron wings her way across the lake. © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great blue heron wings her way across the lake – babsjeheron

As they say in show business, break a leg…

Look closely at the Great Blue Heron’s left leg. Do you see the extra bend between knee and ankle that’s not supposed to be there?

The origin of the expression “break a leg” is in dispute. It may harken back to the ancient Greeks or to 19th or 20th century performances. Whichever it may be, both this Great Blue Heron and I took the expression far too literally.

For the Heron, it was the tibia that broke. In my case, the fibula and calcaneus, aka heel bone. Heading into month seven on crutches wearing an orthopedic walking boot, I am grateful for expert medical care, yet long to be back on two feet and able to fit my foot into a kayak and get back out with the Herons.

That Heron graced the lake for years afterward without benefit of any medical care.

A fledgling great blue in South Carolina, however, underwent successful surgery for a leg fracture. Dr. Biascoechea at the vet clinic inserted pins in the Heron’s leg. The photos there are heartwarming. I love happy Heron stories.
.
.

The always-inspiring Lens Artists – Patti, Tina, Amy, and Leya – focus on the “details” this week. Only by focusing on the Heron’s left leg after downloading this photo did I notice the broken leg. I didn’t see it at all when photographing out in the field.

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 146: Focusing on the Details .
From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 146: Focus on the Details .
From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 146: Focusing on the Details .
From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 146: Focusing on the Details .
.
.

Last week, the Lens Artists’ theme was “Getting to Know You.” My blog series titled “Quirky Artist Stories” offer some glimpses behind the viewfinder. (But as I always say, its always about the Great Blue Herons, not about me.)

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 145: Getting to Know You .
From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 145: Getting to Know You .
From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 145: Getting to Know You .
From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 145: Getting to Know You .

And thanks to Cee for her Hunt for joy.
.
.
,

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.
.

.
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.
.

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

%d bloggers like this: