Category Archives: Parenting

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

“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

Written by Small Hands

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

Some entries from the guest book for a one-woman photography show I had a few years ago.

A few years ago, I held a one-woman show of great blue heron photographs at an Audubon Sanctuary. The show was up for a full month, during the summer when the center was also hosting a summer vacation session for children. One week, the nature center topic focused on great blue herons. What a fun coincidence that my photos and their lesson plan overlapped. I like to think of some of the budding naturalists becoming lovers of herons.

Luckily, I had chosen a child-friendly rainbow assortment of calligraphy marker pens for people to use for entries in my guest book. As you can see from the image here, the children weren’t shy about writing their comments about the herons in colorful, artistic ways.

I treasure these pages written by small hands.

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In case you’re wondering, some, but not all, of the photos from that exhibit are in the photo gallery of this blog. You can click here to view the gallery if you’d like.

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Thanks to Cee for her Fun Foto Challenge: Small prompt. (This week, Cee challenged us with the topic of small. The guest book comments in a small hand are precious to me.)

Thanks to Ailsa for her Where’s My Backpack: Yellow challenge. (This week, Ailsa challenged us with the word “yellow.” When I placed the set of markers on the podium next to the guest book, I removed the yellow marker at first, thinking no one would use it. I had second thoughts, though, and put it back. It was a favorite color with some of the very youngest children, who couldn’t write words but made lovely, bright yellow scribbles in my book, instead.)

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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)

Great Blue Heron, Audubon

Bye, Heron

© 2004-2013 Babsje. (Http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Detail of great blue heron preening.

Mid-week afternoons in August are good at the lake. Many people are at work and many others go away on vacation the last 10 days of August, so I had the waters almost to myself.

I rounded a bend and unexpectedly came upon a man in a green canoe with the name Puffin stenciled on the side in white. He was sitting in the stern with his young son tucked against him, holding the boy with one arm, paddling with the other.

The boy was about 2 or 3, and beaming with happiness in his nice, bright yellow pfd.

Their canoe was perpendicular to the shore, and the little boy’s hand was pointing to the bank, his eyes so wide.

My eyes followed his finger … to a great blue heron.

The heron flew off, the canoe glided off, and I paddled on my way.

About half an hour later the green canoe returned, gliding up behind my yellow kayak, and then alongside me, so soundlessly I was unaware of their approach until they had overtaken me.

But the heron on the shore had seen them — his posture straightened, head perked up, a subtle shift in his stance as though about to brace for flight.

The green canoe just glided by, very very slowly, and when closest to the bird, the toddler jutted out out his hand and waved at the heron. “Bye heron,” said the boy.

And so the father waved, too.

“Bye heron,” said the man.

Then they were gone.

It was a tender, sweet encounter with the toddler in the green canoe. At any moment, he could have jumped up and squealed and clapped his hands in delight – all perfectly normal for a two-year-old. The spell thus broken, though, the heron would have flushed in alarm.

But the toddler didn’t.

And the heron stayed with me in the cove that day.

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

Thanks to Ailsa for her Where’s My Backpack: Sweet 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)

Great Blue Heron, Kayak Birding, Canoeing

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery (and a Powerful Way to Learn)

Or maybe they’re doing the hokey-pokey:

You put your left foot in,
You put your left foot out…

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

Cygnets learning how to paddle with just one foot by imitating their parent swan.

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Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.

Thanks to Josh R and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Family. (The whole family of swans was lined up on the lake that day, parents flanking their seven cygnets. All seven cygnets were imitating the lead parent, with one foot out of the water at the same time. Remarkable demonstration of learning by imitating!)

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

Thanks once again to Cee for her Fun Foto Challenge: Found in Nature prompt.

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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)

Swan, Cygnet

Comet Hale-Bopp and The Pleiades for Weekly Photo Challenge and Thursday’s Special

Survived by approximately several trillion siblings, Comet ISON leaves behind an unprecedented legacy for astronomers, and the eternal gratitude of an enthralled global audience. In ISON’s memory, donations are encouraged to your local astronomy club, observatory or charity that supports STEM and science outreach programs for children. 

Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON)
Born 4.5 Billion BC, Fragmented Nov 28, 2013 (age 4.5-billion yrs old) 

Karl Battams
CIOC
NASA Comet ISON Observing Campaign

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

Comet Hale-Bopp at top right, the Pleiades mid-frame above the trees.

Like many astrophotographers in the Northern Hemisphere, I was eagerly anticipating a naked-eye view of Comet ISON this December. When last I last I photographed a comet, it was in the pre-digital camera era for me, and so I was sorting out the gear and possible locations for 21st century comet shoots. But it was not to be.

As Dr. Tony Phillips writes in What Happened to Comet ISON?

Dec. 4, 2013:  Astronomers have long known that some comets like it hot.  Several of the greatest comets in history have flown close to the sun, puffing themselves up with solar heat, before they became naked-eye wonders in the night sky.

Some comets like it hot, but Comet ISON was not one of them.

Hopes for December comet-watching dashed, I’ve taken a walk down memory lane, revisiting archives of the last comet I photographed, Hale-Bopp, sixteen years ago.

This is Thursday, time for Paula’s wonderful Thursday’s Special challenge, and I’m submitting this post because the year of Comet Hale-Bopp holds a special place with fond memories.

Also, this week, Ben Huberman has challenged us to show light sources. The above photo has many: besides the comet at top right and The Pleiades clustered in the center, untold other celestial bodies are visible.

One of hundreds of photos taken during the months Hale-Bopp was visible here, this scene was across the road from home, an expanded view of more of the landscape from the first comet photo I shared here. (Please click here if you missed seeing my daughter posing with Hale-Bopp)

Karl Battams makes a valuable suggestion in the quote at the start of this post: support STEM and outreach programs for children.

During the year of Hale-Bopp, we watched and photographed almost daily for the duration, tracking the comet’s position on paper star charts. We experimented with all of the low light film we could find, comparing the quality of color reproduction and sharpness. Lacking any idea how long an exposure needed to be in order to clearly see the comet on film, and without a timer on-hand, my daughter hit on the hippopotamus technique: she would depress the plunger on the cable release and hold the shutter open while counting out loud “one hippopotamus, two hippopotamus, three hippopotamus.” It worked from the very first photo!

We had a great time together, just the two of us viewing the comet through my old 35mm Konica and small toy telescope, but what really made an impression were the star parties, where people from the community and scientists from MIT and Harvard gathered at the elementary school with their telescopes and gave everyone a more up-close-and-personal experience.

While Comet ISON is done, there will be others, and Comet Hale-Bopp will swing back by Earth in around 5,000 years, give or take.

But please don’t wait that long to get involved with science outreach in your community.

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Thanks to Paula and WordPress for the Thursday’s Special Non-Challenge Challenge.

Thanks to Ben Huberman and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Let There Be Light.

Thanks to Ed Prescott for the Sunday Stills: Night Shots prompt.

Thanks to Ailsa for the Weekly Travel Theme: Sky. (The night sky is so wondrous.)

Thanks also to Sue for the Word a Week Challenge: High. (How high sky!)

Thanks to the kind folks at SkyWatch Friday.

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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™

(This photo was taken In 1997.)

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

Comet Hale-Bopp, The Pleiades, Comet ISON 2013

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