Category Archives: Thursday’s Special

Eat poems for breakfast

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

Advice to Beginners (excerpt)
Ellen Kort

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

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

Great Blue Heron fishing as the waters descend.

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This week’s photo challenge is descent. This Great Blue Heron frequents these falling waters, fishing for the trout, bass, and pickerel in the pools at the base of the falls. Thanks to Cheri Lucas Rowlands and WordPress for this topic.

Thanks again to Paula for hosting her wonderful Thursday’s Special non-challenge.

Thanks also to Ailsa for hosting her wonderful Weekly Travel Theme: Autumn challenge.

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

Thanks to the kind folks at 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)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking

Silken Feather Against Feather as She Rises

It is a test for us, that thin
but real, undulating figure that promises,
‘if you keep the faith I will exist
at the edge, where your vision joins
the sunlight and the rain:  heads in the light,
feet that go down in the mud where the truth is.

William Stafford, Oregon Poet Laureate
For Great Blue Heron Week, 1987
Spirit of Place (excerpt)
The Way it Is: New and Selected Poems

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

Great Blue Heron’s exultant wings.


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This week’s photo challenge is dialogue. Thanks to Frederic B and WordPress for this topic.

Thanks again to Paula for hosting her wonderful Thursday’s Special non-challenge.

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

Thanks to the kind folks at 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)

Great Blue Heron

Why Have Wings at All?

If not to touch the sky.

Great blue heron silhouetted two hundred feet up. © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great blue heron silhouetted against threatening skies.


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This week’s photo challenge is silhouettes. Thanks to Cheri Lucas Rowlands and WordPress for this topic.

Thanks again to Paula for hosting her wonderful Thursday’s Special non-challenge.

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

Thanks to the kind folks at 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)

Great Blue Heron

Sometimes You Gets the Bear, Sometimes the Bear Gets You

Erm, make that ‘great blue heron,’ not ‘bear.’

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

Great blue heron takes aim at a passing dragonfly.

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Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts. When last we saw this female heron, her prey was a hapless chipmunk. Earlier, she took aim at this dragonfly. Given the contrast in size of the heron and dragonfly, I wonder how many insects it would take to make a nourishing snack? Herons must consider dragonflies tasty morsels: the base of that waterfall is usually teeming with fish.

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

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)

Great Blue Heron, Dragonfly

The Security Cam is Down – Who You Gonna Call for Backup?

Oh, the irony.

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

“Man your station, Hawkeye, incoming kayak at ten o’clock.”

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File this one under silly nonsense.

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UPDATE: Speaking of Red Tailed Hawks, two fellow bloggers have been following an ongoing story out of Ithaca, NY, this summer. One of the fledglings at Cornell University had been injured, requiring surgery. Read more at the blogs of circuitousjourney and dearkitty1.

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Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts. Looks like this building has enlisted a pair of Red Tailed Hawks to augment their roof-top security cameras. I couldn’t resist the irony and the contrasts of new-technology and Nature’s original (and best) hawk-eye tech.

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

Thanks to Cee for her Odd Ball Photo challenge.

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)

Red Tail Hawk, Humor

“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

Thus Spake Yoda

    Do, or do not. There is no try.

    Yoda
    Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

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

    Great blue heron flies by.

    I blame it on the beaver lodge.

    No, that’s not right.

    I blame it on the beavers.

    Or more accurately, on the beady eyes peering up at me from the shallows near the shoreline.

    Actually, that’s not correct either.

    I blame it on the absence of beady eyes just above the surface.

    While kayaking a few weeks ago, I discovered a beaver lodge in the cove, the first one there in at least a decade. I took a few photos of the tall tangle of branches and twigs, but was more interested in seeing, and photographing, a beaver. (I have never done that before, muskrats, yes, beavers, no.) As luck would have it that afternoon, there were two beaver kits paddling around the point not far from the den, but they both quickly slipped beneath the surface and disappeared before I could focus the camera.

    So, last weekend I went back to the cove to try to photograph the beavers.

    This, of course, was a mistake.

    I learned long ago to open myself, and my eyes and camera, to whatever experiences and sights the lake brought forth at any moment. I had learned the hard way that “trying” to capture a specific subject meant that I would be missing out on what was unfolding right before my eyes.

    I learned that mindfulness is a powerful tool for a photographer.

    So, there I was last weekend in the cove fifty yards or so from the beaver lodge, scanning the surface of the waters with my binoculars, looking for a pair of beady eyes or a tuft of greenery being dragged along, trailing a small wake behind.

    A flurry of activity at ten o’clock caught my eye and I paddled a bit closer and refocused the binocs.

    Nope, not the eyes of a beaver: a swarm of dragonflies flitting and alighting on something, maybe a leaf.

    I padded closer still to frame the swarm and through the lens realized the leaf was a feather, a single gorgeous raptor feather.

    And as I was dialing down the lens for a closeup of the feather, a shadow passed directly overhead, and I saw a reflection framed on the water a few yards south – a great blue heron.

    Without thinking – without having to “try” at all – I lifted the camera and fired off this one shot as the heron flew by.

    Did I mention that no two days at the lake are the same?

    You can’t step in photograph the same waters twice.

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    Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Extra-Extra. The water droplet falling from the heron’s talon adds something extra to this high-speed action shot.

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

    Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for hosting the Wild Bird 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)

    Great Blue Heron, Kayaking

Hey, Wait for Me!

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

Hey wait for me! Is there room for one more?

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Thanks to Ben Huberman and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Room. It was a surprise to see that the mother swan had room on her back for all five of her babies, tucked between those enormous wings.

Thanks to Paula for her wonderful Thursday’s Special Non-Challenge. This was a very special moment.

Thanks to Ailsa for her Weekly Travel Theme: Unexpected. Seeing each of the five cygnets riding on the female swan’s back was an unexpected high point of that day at the lake.

Thanks to Sue for her A Word A Week Challenge: Happy. Cygnet number five may have felt very happy when it was his turn to clamber up on his mother’s back, or at least I felt happy for him.

Congrats to Stewart Monckton for his 100th Wild Bird Wednesday, and thanks again 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

Un-Usual Suspects

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms…

Mary Oliver
Swan -excerpt
Swan: Poems and Prose Poems
Beacon Press

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

Two mute swans nesting within yards of each other on a very small island.

For nearly ten years I have plied these waters, spring, summer, fall. Bright sunlit days so crisp they take your breath away. Misty mornings with slate-grey clouds so close you could touch them.

It is a medium-size lake, and a circumnavigation takes a couple of hours on a day when the wind is perfect. After thousands of hours there afloat, I know the shoreline like the back of my proverbial hand.

Most of the wildlife is territorial. Most of the usual suspects can be found in their usual places, year-in-year-out, yet each spring’s nesting season brings surprises.

Watching a great blue heron approaching the mute swan in her nest last weekend was an unexpected first.

Paddling round the small island from the east a week ago revealed the pair of swans’ nests shown here. Never have I seen two swans nesting so close together – never. I didn’t think it possible.

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

Two mute swans nesting within yards of each other on a very small island (close up with long lens).

There is an art to seeing the very familiar with fresh eyes, where no two days are the same.

It is a meditation to approach the lake with new eyes each outing, to not take for granted the usual suspects and their commonplace behaviors, to not fall into the trap of my own routines.

A frequent paddling route skirts the island on the western side, not the east. Had something not drawn me to the east that day, I would not have come across these two nesting swans.

Did I mention that no two days are the same?
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Thanks to Paula for her wonderful Thursday’s Special Non-Challenge.

Thanks to Erica and WordPress for their Weekly Writing Challenge: Lost Art. May seeing the world with fresh eyes never become a lost art.

Thanks to Ailsa for her Weekly Travel Theme: Close Up.

Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for his Wild Bird Wednesday 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)

Kayaking, Mute Swan

Quirky Artist Stories Nbr 1 – Nancy Drew and the Case of the Purloined Heron

The southwest staircase wall was empty – a blank white space stared at me starkly from the landing between floors.

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)  Great blue heron amongst water lilies in the cove.

Great blue heron amongst water lilies in the cove.

The framed great blue heron was gone!

Shades of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist!

Someone had been in the house, but who?

Had a burglar made off with the heron?

Was anything else missing?

Was he still in the house?

Was it safe for me to be there alone?

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

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

Whomever it was, was gone.

A relief.

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

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

But definitely not great art.

Yet it was missing,

Had someone thought it valuable enough to steal?

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

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

Until…

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

A relief.

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

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

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

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

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Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art. While the great blue heron photograph shown here is a work of art, click here to learn about a new virtual tour of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and see works of art in an entirely different league.

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

Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for his Wild Bird Wednesday 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)

Great Blue Heron, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

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