Category Archives: Travel Theme Challenge

Beautiful Great Blue Herons’ Moving Story

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

Great Blue Heron and Fish Ladder- babsjeheron

Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.

― Lao Tzu

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A story out of San Francisco this week caught my eye “Wildlife experts hope plan to relocate Oakland herons will fly.”

The more than 250 herons that flock to Oakland every year to breed are in store for a feather-ruffling surprise when they return to their favorite downtown nesting spot in February. The giant canopies where the long-legged fowl have gathered for nearly a decade are no longer there, and the humans who removed their nests are hoping to lure them to a new breeding ground about a half-mile away at Lake Merritt with decoys equipped with loudspeakers to broadcast recordings of heron mating calls.

Stay tuned in a few months as we learn the success of this well-intentioned action to save the herons.

This effort is not without risk, but you know who I’m rooting for and how much I love happy endings.
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Thanks to Ailsa and WordPress for the Travel Theme: Fragile prompt. Looking closely at the side wall of the fish ladder, you can see the hole through which the water gushes. We don’t often think of concrete as being fragile, but it is susceptible to the forces of water. As Lao Tsu said “water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield.’

Thanks also to Michelle W and WordPress for the recent Daily prompt: Relocate.

Also, thanks to Ben H and WordPress for the recent WPC challenge: Serene. As difficult as it may be to believe, this truly was a moment of serenity, alone with the Great Blue Heron as she calmly perched on one leg on the shoulder of the fish ladder.

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Through July 13, 2017 I was a Featured Artist 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.

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From July 1 through July 30, 2016, I was the Featured Artist of the Month at the Summer Street Gallery. The Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced the walls of the lobby and theater in a one-woman show at The Center for Arts in Natick. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.
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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2017 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, Five Crows

Things With Wings

My heart was in my throat as I watched, because it was such a long way down and he was still a beginner.

Great blue heron fledgling practicing flying one day before fledging for good.

Great blue heron fledgling practicing flying one day before fledging for good.

The title of today’s post is a nod to my favorite piano piece. The composer and artist is an outstanding pianist named Liz Story, and the tune Things with Wings is on her brilliant Windham Hill album named Solid Colors. WordPress asked us today tell people who we are through our favorite music, and I can think of no single piece that better shares my love of herons and egrets and other things with wings.

In my earlier post Fleet of Wing, Nimble of Foot, I wrote about the great blue heron nestlings fearlessly trying their wings more than seventy feet above the nesting island floor: My heart was in my throat as I watched, because it was such a long way down and he was still a beginner. And his nest mate? I imagined him thinking, “My turn, I want my turn now!”

The photo below at left shows the tall nesting tree at full height, with the two fledglings barely visible at the top. As you can see from the three photos to the right, there were indeed moments when the fledgling peered apprehensively downward while practicing out on that limb.

Nesting tree.

Nesting tree on the island is shown at left. At right, the fledgling startes down to the island floor.

Ailsa’s photo challenge for this week asked for entries on the topic of height, and while I’m afraid of heights, myself, the great blue herons certainly are not. That’s a good thing, as it keeps most predators away; apart from eagles and great horned owls and certain other raptors, the very high nests are a safe haven for the heron chicks.

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Thanks to Ailsa and WordPress for the Travel Theme: Height prompt.

Thanks also to Michelle W. and WordPress for the Daily Prompt: Music nudge.

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(This took place August 11, 2012)

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

Rubber Ducky You’re the One – Ailsa’s Relaxing Theme

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

Great blue heron bathing.

Great blue heron bathing.

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.

Ailsa’s prompt for this week is the theme of relaxing. I can’t think of too many things more relaxing than a nice, long Saturday night bath. Unless its downloading photos of a great blue heron taking a bath, all the whole humming the Rubber Ducky song to myself.

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Thanks to Ailsa and WordPress for the Travel Theme: Relaxing prompt.

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(This took place during September 20, 2013)

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

Got the Blues? – Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Hidden

Great Blue Heron camouflaged in pickerel weed.

Great Blue Heron camouflaged in pickerel weed.

It is said that there are no truly blue feathers appearing in nature.

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.

Now, have a look at the great blue heron photo against the rocks in this post: Camouflaged Heron. Again, there’s nothing blue about it.

Lastly, have a look at the photo in today’s post. Did you notice the heron hiding there? Do you see how blue the heron appears? The great blue heron in today’s photo is the same heron appearing camouflaged against the rocks (at the previous link).

There has been no photo editing magic done to any of these photos (apart from cropping, of couse). The colors are entirely as-is.

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.

Light and great blue herons are wonderful that way.

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Thanks for the Hidden theme nudge Ailsa and WordPress.
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(This took place August 22, 2008)

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

Going the Distance? – Ailsa’s Distance Travel Theme and Wordless Wednesday

 © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)   Going the distance? Egret ponders a winged migration alternative.

Egret ponders a winged migration alternative.

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Thanks for the Wordless Wednesday nudge and also thanks to Ailsa and WordPress for the Distance Travel Theme prompt.

File under: Absolute Silliness!
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(This took place August 24, 2013)

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

Birds Just Wanna Have Fu-un, Oh Birds Just Wanna Have Fun – Travel Theme: Play

  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com) Egret pondering paddle boat. How many egrets will this boat hold?

Egret pondering paddle boat. How many birds will this boat hold, anyway?

Ailsa’s requested topic for this week is ‘play.’

Whatever Ailsa wants, Ailsa gets. But be sure to file this post under pure, unadulterated silliness.

How many birds will this boat hold, anyway? I promised the whole gang a paddle boat excursion today.

Let’s see, there’s one of me, plus eight herons… Maybe we need two paddleboats!

Well, if that won’t work, we can always soak up some rays on the beach, and hey, look, the lifeguards are still on duty!

  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)  Egret just wants to have fun.

Egret just wants to have fun.

Guys, believe me, this is going to be a great afternoon.

Why look, there are picnic tables over there! Wanna see if they have any goodies for us?

What do you mean birds shouldn’t mooch people food?

The pigeons and seagulls do it all the time. Why not egrets and herons?

Guys? Guys?

Well, that’s the last time I agree to coordinate a meetup for you guys.

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Thanks for the Play theme nudge Ailsa and WordPress.
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© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Bottoms Up – Tilted Theme

She lifted her tail – higher and higher until it seemed she might accidentally tip fully forward and execute a face-plant in the water.

Great blue heron focusing intently while stalking a fish.

Great blue heron focusing intently beneath the surface, while perfectly balanced.

As she stalked her prey, there came a subtle shift in her center of gravity. 

From a standing position, head and tail level, perfectly horizontal, she slowly slowly lowered her beak towards the water’s surface, the better to peer below.

As she did that, she lifted her tail – higher and higher until it seemed she might accidentally tip fully forward and execute a face-plant in the water.

She was far too graceful for that, maneuvering those huge wings into perfect position to achieve balance…

And to achieve dinner!

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Thanks for the Tilted theme nudge Ailsa and WordPress.
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© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

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