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Glorious Feathers

You will remember that leaping stream 
where sweet aromas rose and trembled, 
and sometimes a bird, wearing water 
and slowness, its winter feathers.

Pablo Neruda
Love Sonnet IV (excerpt)
100 Love Sonnets

Detail - Egret wing feathers.

Detail – Egret wing feathers.

Please click here to see more of the Egret.

Translucent. Gossamer. Delicate.

I have held an egret feather in my hands, and marveled at it’s near transparency. Looking at the photo above, the individual feathers are all so translucent that you can see how the layers of a wing are built, feather upon feather.

In my post Once You Have Tasted Flight, the onion-skin thinness of an egret’s wing feathers stands out more starkly: the outline of the bird’s wing bones shines through. (Please click here if you missed that photo.)

The feathers are nearly-transparent and yet an egret can fly 25 mph.

Translucent, gossamer, and delicate – yes.

But not at all weak.

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Thanks to Ailsa for the Weekly Travel Theme: Delicate.

Thanks once more to Ese for her Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge – Allure. What has more allure than a silken, white feather?

Also, thanks to the kind folks at NaBloPoMo National Blog Posting Month this November.

Thanks again to Stewart Moncton for the Wild Bird Wednesday prompt.

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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.

(This took place August 20, 2013)

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

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Who You Calling a Birdbrain? Great Blue Heron Fishing with a Twig

… I go and lie down where the wood drake rests
in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
or grief. I come into the presence of still water.

Wendell Berry
The Peace of Wild Things (excerpt)
The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry

Great blue heron fishing using a twig to attract the fish.

Great blue heron using a twig to lure fish.

The great blue herons elicit many different emotions as I float in the kayak, watching them. There are moments of absolute stillness and peace there on the water, and mindful moments imbued with wonder. There’s love and concern for the herons I’ve come to know over the years. Sometimes there’s a touch of humor, and other times a sense of curiosity and a wanting to learn more. Sometimes the photos I take are capital A art, other times merely nature photos from the field. Today’s post is not art, just sharing observations about tool use by herons.

Yesterday’s post related my first-hand experience watching a heron use a seagull feather as bait. (If you missed that magical photo, please click here to catch up.)

Today’s post shows a different great blue heron fishing. This bird is a yearling, and may be the offspring of the feather-wielding heron.

The photo sequence below was taken almost one year earlier than the one in yesterday’s post. In today’s sequence, the great blue heron yearling wiggles a twig in the water to attract the fish.

In numbered sequence from top left:

  • The heron picks up the twig in frame one.
  • In frame two, she holds the twig in the water and wiggles it a bit.
  • Next, in the third frame, she has again picked the twig up out of the water.
  • At bottom right, she is once again wiggling the twig to lure in her prey.
Great blue heron fishing using a twig to attract the fish - sequence.

Great blue heron fishing using a twig to attract the fish – sequence.

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Thanks once more to Prairiebirder Charlotte for her Feathers on Friday prompt.

Also, thanks to the kind folks at NaBloPoMo National Blog Posting Month this November.

Thanks also to Skinnywench for the Word a Week Challenge: Favorite. No secret, great blue herons are my favorites.

Thanks again to Stewart Moncton for the Wild Bird Wednesday prompt.

Thanks to Petrel41 for the heron links provided in the comments section of yesterday’s post.

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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.

(This took place August 28, 2010)

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

More than Eye Candy: GBH Photo Gallery

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds

e.e. cummings
love is a place
Complete Poems 1904-1962

Great blue heron preening in perfect balance.

Great blue heron perfectly balanced, skillfully curled on stones.

Please click the image for more photos.

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Thanks once more to Ese for her Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge – Allure.

Thanks again to Ailsa for her Weekly Travel Theme: Stone prompt.

Thanks also to Skinnywench for the Word a Week Challenge: Favorite. (My favorite model from the southern lake once again.)

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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.

(This photo was taken July, 2013)

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

Lavender and Green

Great blue heron fishing near the reeds and pickerel weed.

Lavender & green: a color combo not just for golf clothes.

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Thanks to Cheri Lucas Rowlands and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Hue prompt. I love the interplay of the purple and green of the pickerel weed.

Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.

Thanks again to Stewart Moncton for the Wild Bird Wednesday prompt.

And thanks once again to Michelle for the Weekly Pet Challenge Roundup nudge.

Thanks also to Ese for her Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge – Obsession prompt. Maybe one day I will overcome my obsession with great blue herons, but apparently today is not the day, either!

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(This took place July, 2010)

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

Following the Sun

For tomorrow may rain,
so I’ll follow the sun.

Paul McCartney
Help!

Great blue heron profile in Autumn.

Great blue heron profile in Autumn.

The cove is a mere finger of water, pointing to the east, bounded by tall pines and oaks and an occasional maple. As the season shifts into Autumn, the sun spreads her gold very narrowly, illuminating the full swath of water only at certain times of day. By October, the great blue herons all work a similar circuit as they follow the sun in the cove.

In this photo, the heron stands on a dock shrouded in shadow. The sun blazes on the far shore, but only teases the heron across the way, illuminating just her head.

As they follow the sun, I follow the herons.

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With thanks to Verena for her Festival of Leaves opportunity.

Thanks to Ed Prescott for the Sunday Stills: Trees & Leaves prompt.

And thanks once again to Michelle for the Weekly Pet Challenge Roundup nudge.

Thanks also to Ese for her Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge – Obsession prompt. Maybe one day I will overcome my obsession with great blue herons, but apparently today is not the day.

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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.

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(This photo was taken October 10, 2011)

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

And I Said to Myself, What a Wonderful World

My whole life, my whole soul, my whole spirit is to blow that horn. 

Louis Armstrong

Great blue heron in the Charles River in Autumn.

Great blue heron in the Charles River in Autumn.

Satchmo would have understood Ese’s focus on “obsession” for this week’s challenge. That one quote of his says it all.

As for my obsession with great blue herons, when my favorite local boathouse closes for the season, I simply move on to the river, the Charles River. The photo in this post was taken during my first kayak outing there, and it’s one of my favorites photos of the great blue herons that ply the Charles.

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Thanks to Ed Prescott for the Sunday Stills: Trees & Leaves prompt.

And thanks also to Michelle for the Weekly Pet Challenge Roundup nudge.

Thanks also to Ese for her Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge – Obsession prompt.

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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.

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(This photo was taken October 13, 2007)

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

The Artist’s Job

The artist’s job is to get the audience to care about your obsessions.

 Martin Scorsese

Great blue heron fledgling stretching one month after leaving the nest.

Great blue heron fledgling stretching one month after leaving the nest.

Ese has challenged us this week to lay bare our obsessions, and Michelle W has asked us which of our posts made us most nervous to publish, and how we felt after setting it free.

It’s a poorly-kept secret that I’m obsessed with great blue herons.

More than 100,000 photos and nearly a decade after I first started capturing them with a camera, I started publishing them on the Internet, here at WordPress. Some of them had been displayed at Audubon here, some in corporate settings, some in private collections, some in print, but none on the web until I started this blog in late Spring.

Hitting publish on my first post was painful (If you missed it, please click here.)

Publishing my first post with a photo was excruciating. (Please click here if you missed that one.)

I’m still anxious with each and every photo posted. Nobody wants their art misappropriated, affiliated with someone else’s agenda. Musicians whose tunes have been misused by a political party NOT of their choosing come to mind – that happens with every election year.

I think all artists want to share their obsessions, and their favorite models, with others.

Perhaps it’s not a “want” so much as a “need” for some of us? What drives you to risk your art on the Internet? Fellow photographers, artists, poets, writers care to weigh in via comments?

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Thanks to Michelle W. for the Daily Prompt: Free.

Thanks also to Ese for her Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge – Obsession prompt.

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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.

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(This photo was taken September 9, 2012)

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

So Close!

One moment the great blue heron was a blur headed right towards the kayak and the next, he swerved to the side and banked swiftly upwards. Climbing, climbing.

Great blue heron soaring above the cove in Autumn.

Great blue heron soaring above the cove in Autumn.

I didn’t see the great blue heron until he was almost upon me, speeding west towards the channel as I paddled the kayak east, deeper into the cove. One moment he was a blur headed right towards me and the next, directly overhead – a streak of grey feathers against early autumn leaves. So close!

All I could do was aim the camera and pan.

And if both hands weren’t already occupied holding both the camera and kayak paddle, I would have crossed my fingers in hope that the photo would work out.

I only got off one frame during that encounter, the photo in this post.

Usually I don’t engage in meta talk about the photos – the photos should be part of the story of the herons, rather than having the story be about any photographic techniques. In this case, though I’m making an exception. The motion blur in this photo is all natural, not the product of any digital darkroom magic. Given that it was taken from a moving kayak, hand held, and that the heron was flying exceedingly fast and in the opposite direction from my own heading, this photo had a very high degree of difficulty.

What a lovely autumn day it was that day at the lake with the heron.

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Thanks again to Verena for the Festival of Leaves opportunity.

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(This photo was taken October 5, 2008)

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

Wordless Saturday at the Lake in Autumn

Great blue heron preening on log in Autumn.

Great blue heron preening on log in Autumn.
© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

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Thanks again to Verena for the Festival of Leaves opportunity.

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(This photo was taken October 13. 2013)

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

Any Day is a Good Day

… for lounging around in a hammock suspended over the water.

Great blue heron exploring the shoreline near suspended hammocks.

Great blue heron exploring the shoreline near suspended hammocks.

Last month I described an idyllic area of the shoreline at the lake. (If you missed that earlier post, please click here to catch up.)

Great blue heron yearling investigates a fire pit.

Great blue heron yearling investigates a fire pit.

A place where flowers grow in a partly-sunken boat.

A place with a fire-pit to occupy a curious heron.

A place with hammocks suspended over the water.

While my favorite elements of nature are always the wild and untrammeled ones, this section of the shoreline is a place I’d love to inhabit for an evening or three, lazing in one of the hammocks, with fireflies twinkling around the flowers and the scent of dinner wafting from the grill. And a great blue heron, there would be a heron there, too.

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(When I take photos like this, I often wonder if the property owners have any idea about the herons’ visits that make their beautiful area even moreso.)

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Thanks to Ed Prescott for the Sunday Stills: Shorelines prompt.

And thanks also to Michelle for the Weekly Pet Challenge Roundup nudge.

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(Thess photos were taken in September, 2009 and September, 2011)

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

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