Category Archives: Wildlife Photography

Beautiful Great Blue Heron – What Goes Up…

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

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

I am ready for flight
oh my wings are so ripe
come wake me
take me from the nest

Jimmie Spheeris, The Nest

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Thanks to Krista S and WordPress for this week’s WPC challenge: Ascend. What goes up, must come down… in one place or another. My heart was in my throat as I watched this Great Blue Heron chick learn how to fly, 80 feet above the island floor.

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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, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows

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Beautiful Great Blue Heron’s Transformation (Not Art Nbr 14)

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

Young Great Blue Heron in Molt – 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

Thanks to Jen H and WordPress for the recent WPC challenge: Transformation. A few years ago I pondered “How do great blue herons fly when they’re molting?” The answer: Awkwardly. Jenn’s prompt reminded me that the process of molting is a fundamental transformation.

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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, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows

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.
.
.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, Five Crows

Put a Beautiful Great Blue Heron on a Pedestal? Who, me?

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

Great Blue Heron on a Pedestal – babsjeheron

And when I’ve reached the end of my days, may I be found with a Great Blue Heron’s nest built within my ribcage.
With apologies to Robert Macfarlane
The Old Ways

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Thanks to Jen H and WordPress for this week’s WPC Challenge: Satisfaction/. In more than a dozen years kayaking that area of the lake, I had observed a Great Blue Heron atop that tree pedestal only once – and at that time, before I could raise the camera, a pod of kayaks approached from the north, flushing the Great Blue. It was very satisfying to finally stumble across her there two weeks ago. I observed through binocs and telephoto lens from a distance for nearly an hour as she slept and then preened and then slept some more, perched on one leg the whole time.

Thanks also to Paula for hosting her Thursday’s Special: Slow. It was a slow hour spent watching the Great Blue Heron languidly perched atop her pedestal. I was grateful to be in her presence, the two of us alone in a fine drizzle in the cove.

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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, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows

Great Blue Heron’s Artistic License?

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

Heron and Roots – B&W- babsjeheron

Back in the day, when darkrooms were physical spaces in 3D, photography was a much more sensory experience. The otherworldly red glow of the safelight seemed a portal into another dimension. The vinegary odor of the stop bath a pungent treat for the nose. The feel of wet paper beneath fingertips as you gently rub areas of the emerging image to bring out details. The whisking motion of the dodging tool to reduce over-exposed areas. Back in the day, black & white prints were the order of the day.

And today? It seems like “artistic license’ to create B&W prints!

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Thanks to Jen H and WordPress for this week’s WPC Challenge: Satisfaction/. No two days on the water with the Great Blue Herons are the same. I find it very satisfying that there continue to be ways of seeing with fresh eyes. In more than a dozen years exploring those waters, I had not noticed the exquisite, sun-bleached roots of this tree until the Great Blue drew herself, and my eyes, up to the base of the hill.

Thanks also to Paula for hosting her Black & White Sunday: After and Before. The photo in today’s post is a “before” and yesterday’s is an “after.” Before and after what? Before digital photography tools made color photography mainstream, B&W predominated.

Thanks to Cee for hosting Cee’s Black White Challenge: Things Made with Wood. What is more ‘made with wood’ than a tree and it’s roots?
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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.
.
.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows

Beautiful Great Blue Heron Gets to the Root of It All

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

Great Blue Heron and Roots – babsjeheron

How long we may have gazed on a particular scenery and think that we have seen and known it, when, at length, some bird or quadruped comes and takes possession of it before our eyes, and imparts to it a wholly new character. The heron uses these shallows as I cannot. I give them up to him.
The Writings of Henry David Thoreau

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Thanks to Jen H and WordPress for this week’s WPC Challenge: Satisfaction/. No two days on the water with the Great Blue Herons are the same. I find it very satisfying that there continue to be ways of seeing with fresh eyes. In more than a dozen years exploring those waters, I had not noticed the exquisite, sun-bleached roots of this tree until the Great Blue drew herself, and my eyes, up to the base of the hill.
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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.
.
.
Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows

Quirky Artist Stories Nbr 12: Five Crows Brick & Mortar Features Great Blue Herons

In these days when anyone can set up an online shop to sell photography, I am proud to be represented by an honest-to-goodness brick & mortar gallery, Five Crows. Owned by a group of dynamic women artists – aka The Crows – the gallery is a true gem, showcasing the works of more than 150 local and regional artists, designers and artisans. Five Crows offers fine art photography, handmade jewelry, original paintings, scarves, stained glass, pottery and a slate of fascinating artist-taught classes. I’m honored to be one of the Featured Artists there this June and July, and to be in the company of the accomplished photographer Beth Hoffer.

Also, a quick thanks to the kind folks at Charles River Canoe & Kayak. Many of the Great Blue Heron photos shown here were taken from the seat of a CRCK kayak.

Maybe this should be filed under shameless self-promotion?

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, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows

Beautiful Great Blue Heron’s Calm Before the Storm (Quirky Artist Stories Nbr 11)

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

Great Blue Heron Sleeping Calmly Before the Storm – babsjeheron

With one eyelid partly open, the Great Blue Heron slept perched on one leg as the kayak slowly drifted past. Heron eyelids close from the bottom up – unlike ours – and they can sleep with an eye slightly open, as a cat will do.

It was exciting to discover where this Heron sleeps, and I took care to stay a healthy distance away as I paddled towards a natural hide in the trees along the shore. Was she aware of my presence across the cove? Perhaps. If she was, she didn’t let on.

Rain was in the forecast, and the lake deserted, calm and serene.

I floated onward to a favorite cove in search of that Heron’s mate. The cove is a narrow finger of water, with thick tree canopy on either side, making it difficult to see the sky for much of the length of the cove.

I was following the other Great Blue from a distance with a telephoto lens and noticed a lot of those plinking circles on the water’s surface that insects and nymphs make.

Belatedly, I realized it wasn’t insects making those circles – it was raindrops.

Quickly, I put my camera it its dry bag, stashed it below decks and paddled rapidly for the boathouse.

When I exited the cove, my kayak was SLAMMED broadside by the fiercest winds I’ve ever experienced – easily gusting greater that 50mph, if not an actual microburst. In moments of heart-pounding terror, I was sure my kayak was going to slam onto the jagged rocks and then roll.

Paddling as though my life depended on it, I steadied the kayak long enough to make it to the mouth of a tunnel, but there was a large powerboat inside, headed straight towards me, and another kayak on the left. The powerboat cut engines and managed to stop along the tunnel wall. He found a handhold in a seam of the concrete the way a rock climber grabs finger-width holds. I snugged my kayak as close to his bow as possible and another motor boat swung in behind me. The three of us waited out the vicious storm together, watching the winds blow sideways at alarming with alarming power.

When the storm abated sufficiently that it was safe to head in, we all did.

And the two Herons? I don’t know where or how they shelter, I just know they came through the storm and were back at their usual territories the next day.

I love happy endings.
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Thanks to Cherie and WordPress for this week’s WPC Challenge: Bridge. My place of refuge from the harrowing storm was a tunnel below a bridge of the Massachusetts Turnpike.
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From now through July 13th, I am 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.
.
.
Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows

Great Blue Heron’s Guest Bird of the Day – Beauteous Buteo (Not Art Nbr 13)

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

Two Red Tailed Hawks – babsjeheron

What, you were maybe expecting Great Blue Herons today?

Just as I swung my camera into position, another flash of feathers. Two. TWO Red Tailed Hawks splashing into the lake.

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 – nine or ten years ago – had I seen a Hawk bathing, and here, at nearly the same spot along the shore, was another.

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.

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

Two Red Tailed Hawks Bathing – babsjeheron

File this one under once-in-a-lifetime Hawk encounter.

(We now return to the regularly scheduled Great Blue Heron program. Thanks for indulging my love for Hawks, too.)

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Thanks to Erica V and WordPress for this week’s WPC Challenge: Delta. Compare the mood of the two Red Tailed Hawks in the top photo with that at the bottom. Do you see the change, from excitedly animated when landing in the water to what might be called affectionate, as the hawks bathe together side-by-side, nearly touching beaks. The other, more surprising change, is the shift in this blog from the customary focus on Great Blue Herons to the interloping Red Tailed Hawks just for today.
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From now through July 13th, I am 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.
.
.
Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Red Tailed Hawk, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows

Beautiful Great Blue Heron’s Habitat (Not Art Nbr 12)

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

Beautiful Great Blue Heron Fledgling Basking – babsjeheron

The fine was levied: $103,000. $1,000 a day for 103 days in violation of the court order. The scene above can never be photographed again.

It was heartbreaking to discover the habitat destruction on my first kayak outing this spring. Generations of Great Blue Herons had used that tree in all seasons – fishing in the waters below, sunning for warmth on autumn mornings, sleeping soundly on one leg. I’d been photographing them there for more than a decade. Each morning on the water, I would raise binoculars to scan that tree for a Heron, but not any longer. Training the binocs on that spot brings only sadness, not sightings of the Great Blues and Green Herons, Black Crowned Night Herons, and the Turtles often seen there.

While Massachusetts owns the lake and its waters, there are some privately-held properties along areas of the shores. The owner of the property behind the beautiful partly submerged tree shown here illegally cleared land and removed trees after bulldozing the former home on the site. After clearing the land, he brought in an excavator and swept that beautiful tree and others from the water. Someone called the police who caught him red-handed, but it was too late to save that lovely corner of the cove.

His plan? To construct three new homes for some international buyers – people with no great love for the lake, no appreciation and no respect for the wildlife that calls the cove their home. Last fall the court put him on notice that the fine for continuing to desecrate the area was $1,000 a day, but he persisted. This spring, he was assessed $103,000 for the violations, and a new fine of $25,000 a day was imposed for any continued damage.

Shifting gears a bit, one day years ago, a bookcase at home was moved from a hallway to the living room. When I came home from work that night, Phoebe the calico cat greeted me at the door and immediately led me in the direction of where the bookcase had been. She sat there in that spot, as though pointing out to me that it was gone. Another time, a friend’s cat, Minnie, greeted me at their front door and purposely led me up the stairs to show me her new kittens, nestled in the bottom drawer of a bedroom dresser.

So it was that a week ago, one of the Herons showed me that the tree was gone.

Animals and birds can recognize individual humans, and some of the Herons recognize me after all these years. (While I am a huge proponent of taking photographs from a hide or when well-hidden from view, there are places on the lake and rivers here were simply navigating makes my presence known to the wildlife.)

That morning, the adult female Great Blue watched from her perch along the south bank as my kayak curved across the channel towards the tunnel. Suddenly, she swooped across my bow and headed towards where that tree had been. She landed on the shore at that very spot, and stood there staring at me. I have no doubt that she was showing me that her tree was gone… but she was still here.

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

Great Blue Heron by Habitat Destroyed – babsjeheron

Heartwarming.
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Thanks to Erica V and WordPress for this week’s WPC Challenge: Delta. The top “before’ and the bottom “after” photos are stark examples of the nature of change.
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From now through July 13th, I am 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.
.
.
Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows

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