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Beautiful Great Blue Heron… and the Man with the Spider Tattoo

Great Blue Heron Fledgling Warrior Nbr 2 - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Fledgling Warrior Portrait – babsjeheron

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

Great Blue Fledgling Surveying the Scene – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Fledgling About to Leap - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Fledgling About to Leap – babsjeheron

Great Blue Fledgling Sticks His Landing - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Fledgling Sticks The Landing – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Fledgling Touch Down Nbr 1 - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Fledgling Touch Down Nbr 1 – babsjeheron

It was only after I had maneuvered in close enough to grab onto the strut of his pontoon – without t-boning my kayak against the point – that he came into focus, all gelled and spiky hair and tats, the silver bolts through his eyebrow and lower cheek glinting. He was sinewy and compact and – surprisingly – handsome for someone you wouldn’t want to encounter alone on the street after dark.

Before deciding to pull alongside the paddleboat, I had focused on the pilot’s gang colors and insignia, and hadn’t noticed the man with the spider tattoo. The pilot’s hat alone screamed to me of power and danger, and yet there he was piloting a four-seater paddle-boat into the southern lake, with three similarly bedecked men. Somehow paddle-boats and gang activity don’t go hand-in-glove, and they looked to be strangers in a new and strange land, for them.

Maybe it was the fact that one of his passengers was a young girl wearing pink shorts that emboldened me enough to approach them. She looked to be about ten or eleven, still innocent-looking despite the company she was keeping, and I guessed her to be one of the men’s daughter. Their women were surely back at the grills near the beach making dinner.

I had planted the kayak in the shade of overhanging trees along the western shore where the water gently lapped against my hull, picking up in intensity only when a larger boat rounded the point.

I heard them – boisterous and happy – before I felt their wake, and I felt their wake before I saw them, and when I saw them the first thing I saw was the captain’s over-size gang hat.

And the second thing I saw was their telegraphed trajectory – heading straight for the small nesting island. There was no doubt about that, and no doubt that they would make landfall, and no doubt that the adult male Heron would flee the nest and chicks when they did, for he is a skittish Heron. I say this all from experience.

I paddled out from under the leafy canopy into the open water and shouted out a greeting while paddling quickly towards them, aiming to cut off their path in a subtle way.

They answered my greeting, a good sign, and so I called out to them and explained “You can’t go to the island. There are protected birds there in a nest with babies. Don’t go to the island.”

And I held out my arm with the binoculars, gestured with the binocs, and asked them “Would you like to see the birds?”

And closer I paddled, not knowing if we even spoke enough of the same language to understand each other.

They pedaled towards me, and I paddled towards them until the tip of my bow nudged alongside their right pontoon.

I handed off the binoculars to the man with the spider tattoo, and pointed to the nest and gave him the quick nature story talk about the Herons and chicks and Cormorants. As I was explaining that the Heron is around four feet tall, he exclaimed “Beautiful,” and “Grande,” and something else that I couldn’t follow, but the look on his face was so soft and kind and he was clearly pleased to see the birds up close through the binoculars.

He handed off the binocs to the young girl, and all three of the grown men were solicitous of her, each wanting to make sure she could focus the binocs and see the nest. And when they were assured that, yes, she did see the nest and the birds, they each took turns with the binocs, and made big smiles and little exclamations about how grande and beautiful, and we talked about how the Cormorants are much smaller than the Herons and they taught me their word for small – Pequeño.

A new bird for them, a new word for me, and for all on those two small boats that day I think, a new understanding of how the beauty of Great Blue Herons can bridge the gaps between us.
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Folks, I have written here before that this is a politics-free space. You won’t hear me advancing any political agenda. Posts here are not opinion pieces about current events.

HOWEVER, failing to weigh in on the heartbreaking events continuing to unfold in Europe would be exceedingly tone-deaf on my part.

I wrote back in December “Tis the season for wishes of peace on earth, goodwill to all. But wait. On second thought, why should those sentiments be extended only during the holiday season? I encourage peace on earth and goodwill to all for every season of the year. May 2022 bring you peace, health, happiness, and joy to all.”

And now in February March nearly April, it seems my sentiment from only two three months ago has fallen on deaf ears. I continue to pray that it is still not too late to turn the tides of war.

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The Great Blue Herons once again graced the gallery walls through February 26th for a one-woman all-Heron show at the Summer Street Gallery, of The Center for Arts in Natick.

Great Blue Herons at TCAN Lobby January & February 2022 - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Herons at TCAN Lobby One-Woman Show January & February 2022 – babsjeheron

The Center for Arts Natick believes the arts are essential to a complete human experience and to the creation of a vibrant, healthy community. To this end, TCAN strives to present arts programs of the highest standard that are available to everyone and dedicates its resources to providing community access to diverse arts programs, reducing barriers to attendance, and building appreciation through arts education. Since 2001, the Center for Arts Natick has been housed in the circa 1875 historic Central Fire House, where the Summer Street Gallery provides an opportunity for accomplished visual artists in the region to have their work prominently displayed for TCAN’s diverse and loyal audience.

Some of the images from my January February 2022 TCAN show have been placed in the online Art gallery, with more to be uploaded in coming days. You can be a fly on the wall! Please CLICK HERE to see the Great Blue Herons gracing the gallery walls.
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Cee Neuner, Debbie Smythe, and the community of Lens Artists encourage the entire international network of photographers and writers. Please click the links below to see the beautiful offerings from these wonderful photographers.

The focus for this week’s Lens Artist challenge hosted by Amy is “Earth Story.” Amy wrote “The natural world has many stories to tell. They are written on the ground, in the mountains and rivers, and on rocks and trees.” My story today is about how we ALL share our one beautiful Earth. We share it with ALL peoples. We share it with the magnificent Herons and ALL of Nature.

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Thanks to Cee for her CFFC: Birds. Anybody see any birds around here?
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 192: Earth Story.
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 192: Earth Story .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 192: Earth Story .
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From Anne Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 192: Earth Story .
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Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District logo

Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and a half and they need your love more than ever.

.

The Natick Center Cultural District is situated in a friendly, classic New England town hosting a vibrant, contemporary fusion of art, culture and business. Click here and here to learn more!

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My brick & mortar presence in Massachusetts dates back to 2009 in several local venues/galleries.

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick – Recent one-woman photography show through February 2022
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Natick Town Hall – Current group exhibit thru June 2022
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Five Crows Gallery in Natick – Represented since 2013
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Audubon Sanctuary
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Be a fly on the wall! Please CLICK HERE to see the Great Blue Herons gracing the gallery walls.
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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2022 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick

Read the rest of this entry

Beautiful Great Blue Heron… Not Just Another Pretty Face

Great Blue Heron head-shot in the cove - babsjeheron  © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron head-shot portrait – babsjeheron

Great blue heron fledglings in nest in mirror image - babsjeheron  © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Two peas in a pod: Great Blue Heron fledglings in symmetry – babsjeheron

Great blue heron fledglings in synchronized, mirror-image preening. Remarkable how in sync they are - babsjeheron  © 2013 Babsje. (Http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron fledglings in synchronized, symmetrical preening. Remarkable how in sync they are – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Feathers - Detail - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Feathers – Close-up Detail – babsjeheron

Look, you might as well know, this thing
is going to take endless repair: rubber bands,
crazy glue, tapioca, the square of the hypotenuse.
Nineteenth century novels. Heartstrings, sunrise:
all of these are useful. Also, feathers.

Barbara Kingsolver
“Hope, An Owner’s Manual”
(excerpt)

The focus for this week’s Lens Artist challenge hosted by Patti is “Close and Closer.” Patti wrote “we challenge you to move closer to your subject. Post one photo or a series of photos showing what happened when your subject filled the frame. Did this reveal new details? Did this eliminate distracting or unnecessary elements in the photo? Did this add more drama or empathy to your image? Get closer by moving your feet, by using a zoom or macro lens, or by cropping the photo.”

As a wildlife photographer, I can endorse the use of “a zoom or macro lens or cropping the photo.” However I cannot support the idea of moving closer to wildlife. Humans can unintentionally endanger the wildlife they wish to photograph. For example, as passionate Eagle blogger Doc Ellen points out, “People must stay 660 feet from an active bald eagle nest, according to Federal law.” Learn more from Doc Ellen about efforts to protect Bald Eagles CLICK HERE.
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From one of my own impassioned PSA posts about Great Blue Herons needing their space:

If the Great Blue Heron can read this, you’re too close.

It bears repeating: If the Great Blue Heron can read this, you’re too close. Every so often going back a decade or so, I feel compelled to caution folks that Herons need their space. In the past few weeks, I have seen several photos of Herons that had obviously been flushed by photographers. Flushing a Heron is not good, it is a rookie mistake – even if it makes for a dynamic photo. In fact, birding ethics organizations from Audubon to the US Fish & Wildlife Service almost all universally say avoid flushing birds. Don’t get too close.

People who know me know that my motto is “Walk softly and carry a long lens.™” It is important to give wildlife an extra-wide margin of personal space to not endanger them. I take precautions to remain hidden from their view, including use of telephoto lenses and natural-cover hides.

In taking hundreds of thousands of photos over a couple of decades, I can count on two hands the number of times I was within 10 feet of a Heron who could see me. Half of those times happened when I was hidden under a tree canopy and the Heron didn’t see my kayak and dropped down to land literally next to my boat. And one time was because I stepped in to protect the Heron from fishing lines.

This is a critical time in the life cycle of Great Blue Herons, when the Herons are getting ready to nest and create the next generations. This is the time of year when Herons can frequently be spotted, and when novice birders or photographers put them at risk by getting too close. Interrupt a nesting or feeding adult Great Blue, and the chicks may go without a meal. Interrupt a feeding fledgling could ultimately mean life or death for the bird.

As a photographer, ask yourself:
Did you get that perfect shot, but flushed the fledgling in the process?
How long will your friends and family remember your photo?
How long will the fledgling remember the meal he missed or the calories he wasted fleeing you? 
Maybe only that single meal, those much-needed calories were his tipping point between life and death.

The post below was an earlier PSA rant about endangering Herons. Please humor me again.

“… Eventually it all boils down to this: fifty-nine million years later, a caveman, one of a dozen on the entire world, goes hunting wild boar or saber-toothed tiger for food. But you, friend, have stepped on all the tigers in that region. By stepping on one single mouse. So the caveman starves.”

Ray Bradbury, “A Sound of Thunder,”
In “A Sound of Thunder and Other Stories

Great blue heron fledglings practicing 24 hours before they fledged.

Great blue herons practicing 24 hours before they fledged.

The sleek kayak had been tugged up into the shrubbery on the hillside just south of the keyhole bridge. No, wait, make that a sleek kayak and a custom canoe nestling there in the bushes. How odd.

I had noticed the same two paddlers the day before, farther north. How could a person not notice their high-end boats and expert-looking water skills?

Fast forward a day, and there were those boats again, cruising the southern waters.  The two men beached their custom-made canoe on the tiny nesting island. I quickly paddled my kayak over and explained to them about the great blue heron nest and the eggs that were due to hatch within the next 10 days. They replied, “OK, we’re outta here,” and left right away. Success!

Keyhole tunnel portal to the southern waters.

Keyhole tunnel portal to the southern waters.

I should have expected that something was afoot when I noticed a white flag hanging off the promontory southwest of the keyhole tunnel the next morning, it wasn’t there the day before. I should have connected it to the two expert paddlers, but didn’t grasp what it foreshadowed.

The next morning, I was enroute to the secluded shady hide along the western shoreline, thinking to pull in and read a book while munching a bagel for breakfast, when I noticed a man in a red kayak heading for the island. I wanted to warn him off, and so spun my kayak around. As I was about to aim towards him, a red canoe came out of nowhere, making a beeline for the island, the woman in front paddling harder and faster than I’d ever seen in a canoe.

I intercepted them, positioning my kayak in their path and they started to curve around me back towards the island. By this time, the man in the red kayak had meandered around the island and maybe 20 yards to the south, not threatening the island, so I focused on the red canoe and explained to the woman that they needed to steer clear of the island due to the nesting herons and chicks that should be hatching soon. She got the message and she and her partner gave the island and nest a wide birth and paddled in the direction of the east shore. Whew.

Next, I paddled south of the island and to the shady hide on the opposite shore,  and turned around to face the island before settling in, when I noticed a green canoe perilously close to the east side of the island, within a foot of the shore, ducking under some tunnel-like branches and then exiting and paddling farther east.

Curious about their odd behavior, I got out the binoculars and saw something hanging from one of the lowest branches on that side of the island. There was a flash of red, and I remembered seeing it Saturday afternoon when I had dissuaded the two men in a canoe from hanging out there – the two who said to me “we’re outta here.” I thought it was red from the baseball cap one of the men was wearing yesterday. But maybe it wasn’t that at all.

By this point, the man in the red kayak had circled the island and was coming around the north side, very close, too close. I paddled up to him and explained about the nesting herons and incipient hatching. He took off his baseball cap, craned his head and neck backwards to look straight up into the trees at the nest, and then back down. He gave me a level gaze and laconically drawled “Well, I need to rest my kayak in a stable spot for a few minutes,” and pulled out a snack and settled in. Aaarrrgh, he was virtually at the base of the nesting tree, his red kayak shining like a beacon that the adult herons couldn’t possibly fail to notice.

I paddled back towards the west because there was now another green canoe heading straight for the island. I paddled alongside and explained to the young woman in front that they needed to steer clear of the island due to the nesting birds, and – to my relief and gratitude – they headed much farther south.

Then, I circled the south side of the island and ducked into the tree tunnel and saw the red thing. There was a plastic ribbon sash circling a low branch, the red ends flapping down about six inches. Suspended from a white cord was a sort of rectangular card with a large number written prominently on it. The cord was wrapped around the neck of the top of a cut-off white plastic milk-bottle with the another number hand-written on it, such that about five inches of the milk-bottle top was suspended mid-air about three feet above the surface of the water. I thought maybe it was a trap for mosquitoes – they sometimes try to detect virus-carrying mosquitoes with traps, but an open-bottomed milk bottle wouldn’t be a very effective trap.

Putting one and one together, I deduced that it was some sort of scavenger hunt.

A scavenger hunt using the nesting island as a way station.

I was, and still am, horrified.

Even though I had explained to the men who placed the scavenger hunt apparatus in the shrubs about the federally protected herons sitting on eggs in a nest on the tiny island, they chose the island as part of their game. Even though I explained about the eggs about to hatch to the man in the red kayak, even though he looked directly up at the heron’s nest, he still chose to park his boat on the island shore for his snack.

I cut down the offending dangling plastic red sash and the milk bottle apparatus, and as I pulled it into the boat I noticed some sort of red plastic fob dangling from the bottom, sort of like a very large clothespin or something strange. I had no idea what it was, probably a weight to keep things from blowing in the wind, and I pulled that into the kayak too, and stashed it all behind the seat back with my sneakers and socks. In that instant, in my own small way, I understood what Greenpeace might feel like.

I then quietly, nonchalantly paddled southeast a bit and circled back to the front of the island. As I was doing this, a silver-haired couple wearing circa 1960 vinyl PFDs proclaiming Boy Scout Troop NNNN was bearing down hard and fast on the island in an ancient silver aluminum canoe. I explained to the woman that they couldn’t approach the island because of the nesting birds and eggs due to hatch and I thought they were paying attention to me, but I was mistaken. They were heading closer and closer as they circled around to the back of the island.

In the meantime, I paddled up to the snacking man in the red kayak still beached on the island, literally to beseech him to leave before the heron abandons the nest. While I was trying to talk to him, the silver canoe came upon me from behind and rear-ended my boat. Outrageous lack of seamanship on a 700-acre body of water. I asked them to get away from the island and again explained about the nest and what would happen if they got too close for too long and the adult herons abandoned the nest.

My heart was in my throat again and I paddled away from the island, heading west. I turned the boat around, and the lunkheads in the silver canoe were still there. I boldly waved my left arm in broad sweeping strokes motioning them all away from the island. And I kept on motioning them away.

The silver canoe then came right up to me and the woman asked me “Did you see the remote?”

I had no idea what she was talking about and so honestly said “no.” It was only after they paddled away that I realized that the red plastic fob on the end of the milk carton string behind my seat back must have been the “remote,” whatever a remote is.

Father great blue heron has fled the nest and watches anxiously from the tall pines.

Father great blue heron has fled the nest and watches anxiously from the tall pines.

I paddled to a secluded spot on the northern shoreline of south lake and relocated the milk carton and dangling fob on the branch of a different bush, far enough from the island to not be a concern for the herons, but close enough to their original placement to not make a huge difference in their little game.

As I raised the binoculars,  I could tell by then that the adult heron was not in the nest. Would the adult return? All I could do was watch and wait. 

I lost track of time, but it seemed an eternity. 

I headed west a little bit more, turned around, and there in the sky was the adult, making a nice big circle and a perfect landing on the nesting tree! He quickly got back into position on the nest and hunkered down.

By this point in the afternoon, the silver canoe was gone, the red kayak was a fair distance away, and I needed to head back for the day, and so I turned my kayak towards home.

Just then, a middle-aged woman in a tiny tan kayak with a big black dog wearing it’s own adorable PFD passed by. I remarked about her cuddly first mate and she said he couldn’t wait to get out of the boat.

I then realized that they were going very fast, straight for the island. I called to her and said you can’t go the island, there are nesting herons with chicks due to hatch soon and she replied, “I’m doing an orienting weekend. I need to get to the remote.”

And on she paddled towards the island, as my blood ran cold. I could only imagine the havoc her dog would cause romping about the island floor.

If you’ve been following this blog, you already know that the eggs hatched, the two heron chicks fledged and they have both successfully migrated, fall and spring, and found their way back to their home at the lake. I am in awe of how they did that.

Photographer gets too close to a great blue heron nest while the nestlings are being fed by an adult.

Photographer gets too close to a great blue heron nest while the nestlings are being fed by an adult.

Between mid-June, 2012, when the above story took place, and August 12, 2012, when the herons fledged for good, there were many – too many – instances of human encroachment at the nesting island. The father heron in particular would leave the nest, and watch anxiously from tall pines across the channel.

Whenever I noticed people landing on the island, or venturing too close and jeopardizing the herons’ survival, I’d try to educate them, and often shared my binoculars to let them see the beauty of the herons.

Fellow photographers were often the worst offenders, so eager to get closer and closer to get that “perfect shot” of the baby birds.

What is the cost of people being careless or disrespectful in nature?

If you’re a nature lover, birder, photographer, boater, whatever, take a minute and read Ray Bradbury’s short story “A Sound of Thunder,” and imagine that instead of a  butterfly, it’s a great blue heron.

And after your next nature outing, how would you answer these:

Did you and your children have a wonderful nature walk, but did the fledgling flush as your toddler squealed and clapped in delight at seeing the pretty birdie?

Did you and your group have a great afternoon orienteering, but did the mother heron veer away while taking fish back to the chicks because you ventured too close to the nest?

Did you and your friends have a fun time waterskiing, but did the father heron abandon his brood when your boat circled the nesting island too close one time too many?

Did you get that perfect shot, but flushed the fledgling in the process?

How long will your friends and family remember your photo? The waterskiing, orienteering, that particular nature walk?

How long will the fledgling remember the meal he missed or the calories he wasted fleeing you? 

Maybe only that single meal, those much-needed calories were his tipping point between life and death.

Read “A Sound of Thunder.”

Imagine that instead of a  butterfly, it’s a magnificent great blue heron.

Don’t be “that guy.”

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Here are some great resources for birding/photography ethics:

The Jerk – ABA Blog by Ted Lee Eubanks

ABA Code of Birding Ethics

About the tagline of this post, it’s a bumper sticker I’d love to see:

“If the Heron Can Read This, You’re Too Close”

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Folks, I have written here before that this is a politics-free space. You won’t hear me advancing any political agenda. Posts here are not opinion pieces about current events.

HOWEVER, failing to weigh in on the heartbreaking events unfolding in Europe would be exceedingly tone-deaf on my part.

I wrote back in December “Tis the season for wishes of peace on earth, goodwill to all. But wait. On second thought, why should those sentiments be extended only during the holiday season? I encourage peace on earth and goodwill to all for every season of the year. May 2022 bring you peace, health, happiness, and joy to all.”

And now in February March, it seems my sentiment from only two three months ago has fallen on deaf ears. I pray that it is not too late to turn the tides of war.

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The Great Blue Herons once again graced the gallery walls through February 26th for a one-woman all-Heron show at the Summer Street Gallery, of The Center for Arts in Natick.

Great Blue Herons at TCAN Lobby Nbr 2 One-Woman Show January-February 2022 - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Herons at TCAN Lobby Nbr 2 One-Woman Show January-February 2022 – babsjeheron

The Center for Arts Natick believes the arts are essential to a complete human experience and to the creation of a vibrant, healthy community. To this end, TCAN strives to present arts programs of the highest standard that are available to everyone and dedicates its resources to providing community access to diverse arts programs, reducing barriers to attendance, and building appreciation through arts education. Since 2001, the Center for Arts Natick has been housed in the circa 1875 historic Central Fire House, where the Summer Street Gallery provides an opportunity for accomplished visual artists in the region to have their work prominently displayed for TCAN’s diverse and loyal audience.

Some of the images from my January February 2022 TCAN show have been placed in the online Art gallery, with more to be uploaded in coming days. You can be a fly on the wall! Please CLICK HERE to see the Great Blue Herons gracing the gallery walls.
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Cee Neuner, Debbie Smythe, Mama Cormier, and the community of Lens Artists encourage the entire international network of photographers and writers. Please click the links below to see the beautiful offerings from these wonderful photographers.

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Thanks to Cee for her CFFC: Birds. Anybody see any birds around here?
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Thanks to Debbie for her One Word Sunday: Symmetry. The two photos of the Heron fledglings are symmetrical.
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Thanks to Mama Cormier for her Thursday Trios. The panel of three mirror-image Heron fledglings is a trio, even if today isn’t Thursday.
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 190: Close and Closer.
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 190: Close and Closer .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 190: Close and Closer .

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From Anne Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 190: Close and Closer .
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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 190: Close and Closer.
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From John Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 190: Close and Closer.

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Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District logo

Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and a half and they need your love more than ever.

.

The Natick Center Cultural District is situated in a friendly, classic New England town hosting a vibrant, contemporary fusion of art, culture and business. Click here and here to learn more!

.
.

My brick & mortar presence in Massachusetts dates back to 2009 in several local venues/galleries.

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick – Current one-woman photography show through February 2022
.
Natick Town Hall – Current group exhibit thru June 2022
.
Five Crows Gallery in Natick – Represented since 2013
.
Audubon Sanctuary
.

Be a fly on the wall! Please CLICK HERE to see the Great Blue Herons gracing the gallery walls.
.

.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2022 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick

Read the rest of this entry

Beautiful Great Blue Herons… Role Reversal?

Great Blue Heron Portrait BW - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Portrait BW – babsjeheron

The eastern-most end of the cove is the feeding ground and roosting spot for one of the older Great Blue Herons. He is very wary and gorgeous, and it’s always a thrill to see him here, wading, foraging for fish or sunning himself on the overturned willow that came down the year before.

That day, I visited a couple hours earlier than prime feeding time, and so he wasn’t about. That made an opportunity to paddle in closer.

Right stroke… left stroke… right blade planted shallowly… now a broad arc around the white blossoms… left stroke… gliding straight now, past the lily pads… Gliding… Gliding… Gliding up to the fallen willow where he often preens.

Look! A big blue-grey flight feather floating there, a downy belly feather tuft, too. And beyond the willow, paddling deeper to where it stops being cove and starts being brook. What’s the name of that blue flower? Must look it up. This is where the yellow daisies bloomed last fall, it must be.

The water level was much higher than ever. How deeply I can paddle without bottoming out, or getting stuck, like that previous summer. That was a long slow slog back out.

Mustn’t tarry too long here, but what a beautiful place. Serene, still, and so many wild flowers, lush ferns. He may be back soon…

Right paddle planted deep, hard stroke left, bring the boat around sharply. Yes, like that. Stroke… Glide… Stroke… Glide… Glide… Stroke, stroke, stroke.

There! Back in neutral territory, away from his space. Can rest now, and cruise along on the breeze. Floating… Floating…

I’m hungry. Where’s a good picnic spot? Ah, right here: not too close to the trees, a little shade, still waters, a good place for a floating lunch. Paddle leashed and propped ‘cross the cockpit. Lunch bag open. Hot tea, warm oatmeal – maple syrup and brown sugar.

Mmmm. That was very good. Satisfying in the fresh air. Well, time to head in. Close the tea mug, stow the lunch containers, don the gloves, paddle ready.

Wait, what’s that on the island shore? Hunkered down? Watching me…

Watching me…

Watching me?

Later that evening, just after dusk, back at home.

“How was your outing, dear?”

“Oh, so lovely. There were many Dragonflies – tasty and I love how their wings tickle on my tongue…

“And so many sunfish – the smallish ones, not so many bones. Did you ever notice how iridescent they are? If you hover your wings just so over the water so the sun gets that glowy filtering while you stir the bottom just right with your left foot, they’re much easier to see… and to catch.

“But the most unusual thing happened. I was out at the cove, wading along the small island shore when I saw it, right before my eyes. A human…

“I watched in silence for the longest time.

“It is not so rare to see a human in the cove, and there’s one who sometimes watches me when I’m down at the end, where its more brook than cove. You know the place. She thinks I’m not aware of her presence, but I am. I just let her think that.

“I sometimes put on a show for her, preening, stretching my neck far back to get at that itchy spot right over my left shoulder. Or extending my wings half open, down low.

“And I love to show her how to fish. How to be patiently still, toeing the water beneath the surface imperceptibly, watching for the telltale glint of a fin, swish of a tail…

“Whoosh, thrust, submerge, a clean strike. The trout is mine!

“And I surface, wriggling trout speared. A beauty.

“Usually I just wolf it down, but sometimes – sometimes – I want to show her. And so gradually I step and turn and stand there so she can see what a beauty I have caught. What a beauty I am.

“She loves to watch me feeding from a distance.

“And today?

“Today I watched a human in my cove…

“A human… feeding.

“They have curious feeding rituals, humans do.”

Accidental double exposure of a Great Blue Heron fishing in the waterfall - B&W - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Accidental double exposure of a Great Blue Heron fishing in the waterfall – B&W – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Accidental Multiple Exposure – babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Accidental Multiple Exposure – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Eyes Bumble Bee for Lunch – babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Eyes Bumble Bee for Lunch – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Feathers in a Clump – babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Feathers in a Clump Below a Nest– babsjeheron

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The Great Blue Herons once again graced the gallery walls through February 26th for a one-woman all-Heron show at the Summer Street Gallery, of The Center for Arts in Natick.

Great Blue Herons at TCAN Lobby Nbr 2 One-Woman Show January-February 2022 - babsjeheron © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Herons at TCAN Lobby Nbr 2 One-Woman Show January-February 2022 – babsjeheron

The Center for Arts Natick believes the arts are essential to a complete human experience and to the creation of a vibrant, healthy community. To this end, TCAN strives to present arts programs of the highest standard that are available to everyone and dedicates its resources to providing community access to diverse arts programs, reducing barriers to attendance, and building appreciation through arts education. Since 2001, the Center for Arts Natick has been housed in the circa 1875 historic Central Fire House, where the Summer Street Gallery provides an opportunity for accomplished visual artists in the region to have their work prominently displayed for TCAN’s diverse and loyal audience.

Some of the images from my January February 2022 TCAN show have been placed in the online Art gallery, with more to be uploaded in coming days. You can be a fly on the wall! Please CLICK HERE to see the Great Blue Herons gracing the gallery walls.
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Folks, I have written here before that this is a politics-free space. You won’t hear me advancing any political agenda. Posts here are not opinion pieces about current events.

HOWEVER, failing to weigh in on the heartbreaking events unfolding in Europe would be exceedingly tone-deaf on my part.

I wrote back in December “Tis the season for wishes of peace on earth, goodwill to all. But wait. On second thought, why should those sentiments be extended only during the holiday season? I encourage peace on earth and goodwill to all for every season of the year. May 2022 bring you peace, health, happiness, and joy to all.”

And now in February March, it seems my sentiment from only two three months ago has fallen on deaf ears. I pray that it is not too late to turn the tides of war.

Cee Neuner, Debbie Smythe, Mama Cormier, and the community of Lens Artists encourage the entire international network of photographers and writers. Please click the links below to see the beautiful offerings from these wonderful photographers.

The focus for this week’s Lens Artist challenge hosted by Tina is “Odds and Ends.” Tina wrote ‘I don’t know about you, but there are images in my archives that will never fit into a challenge category. They don’t tie together in any cohesive way, but they keep calling to be included. This week, let’s embrace their differences and focus on our “Odds and Ends”.’ Some of my photos today are definitely odd. Great Blue Heron having a Bumble Bee for lunch? Unusual clump of Heron feathers in a ball? Accidental multiple exposures? All unusual!

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Thanks to Cee for her CFFC: Birds. Anybody see any birds around here?
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Thanks to Cee for her FOTD: Flower of the Day. The Bumble Bee is sipping nectar on a blooming Pickerel Weed flower.
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Thanks to Debbie for her Six Word Saturday: What’s Going on in St. Albans?. Filming Wonka!!
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Thanks to Mama Cormier for her Thursday Trios. There is a trio of triptychs in my post today!
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 189: Odds and Ends.
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 189: Odds and Ends .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 189: Odds and Ends .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 189: Odds and Ends .
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From Anne Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 189: Odds and Ends .
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From John Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 189: Odds and Ends .

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Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District logo

Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and a half and they need your love more than ever.

.

The Natick Center Cultural District is situated in a friendly, classic New England town hosting a vibrant, contemporary fusion of art, culture and business. Click here and here to learn more!

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My brick & mortar presence in Massachusetts dates back to 2009 in several local venues/galleries.

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick – Current one-woman photography show through February 2022
.
Natick Town Hall – Current group exhibit thru June 2022
.
Five Crows Gallery in Natick – Represented since 2013
.
Audubon Sanctuary
.

Be a fly on the wall! Please CLICK HERE to see the Great Blue Herons gracing the gallery walls.
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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2022 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick

Read the rest of this entry

Romancing the Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Herons pair bonding - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Herons pair bonding – babsjeheron

During a break in nest building, the Great Blue Heron pair enhanced their bond with courtship moves so intimate I imagined hearing the soft refrains of that old chestnut “I only have eyes for you, dear.”

“Our love must be some kind of kind of blind love.
I can’t see anyone but you.


Are the stars out tonight?
I don’t know if it’s cloudy or bright.
I only have eyes for you, dear…”

A. Dubin, H. Warren
I Only Have Eyes for You

“I Only Have Eyes for You” is a gem of a tune. This chestnut has been performed by a who’s who of musicians, including The Flamingos, Sinatra & Count Basie, Rod Stewart, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Mathis, Carly Simon, Louis Armstrong, Oscar Peterson, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and more…

But the best ever version in my opinion is this very sweet Art Garfunkle cover. Trust me on that.

This next trio of frames taken during a break in nest building that day shows the obvious connection between the mated pair of Great Blue Herons.

The Herons engage each other during a break in nest building - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

The Herons engage each other during a break in nest building – babsjeheron

Nest building had been completed four weeks earlier and the Great Blue Heron eggs were due to hatch any moment. The suspense was mounting daily – would this be the day? And then one day, the female swooped back to the nest bearing a small stick. How sweet, I thought to myself – a token of her affection for her mate, who was hunkered down on the eggs.

Four weeks after mating, a Great Blue Heron returns to the nest and presents a stick to the mate, hunkered down atop the eggs about to hatch - babsjeheron   © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Four weeks after mating, a Great Blue Heron returns to the nest and presents a stick to the mate, hunkered down atop the eggs about to hatch – babsjeheron

It was a touching, tender moment to behold. They only had eyes for each other while courting, but even once they got down to the business of incubating the eggs, their pair bonding efforts persisted, with lavish greeting displays when one returned to the nest, occasional preening (allopreening) of each other, and more. I had watched their courtship and nest building four weeks earlier, but there was something special about seeing her bring that twig back to the male in the nest. I had never before seen them take little gifts like this small stick back to the nest. How sweet.

I am still smitten by their deep bonding, their dedication to each other and their nest.

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Great Blue Herons & me!

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Once again, the Great Blue Heron diving beneath the water’s surface is gracing gallery walls.

TCAN One-Woman Show January 2022 Lobby Wall With TCAN Reflection © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

TCAN One-Woman Show January 2022 Lobby Wall With TCAN Sign Reflected; TCAN Stained glass art by Carol Krentzman, framed by Jay Ball

TCAN One-Woman Show January 2022 Front Lobby Trio © 2022 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

TCAN One-Woman Show January 2022 Front Lobby Trio

My Great Blue Heron photographs are once again on display on the walls of the lobby and theater in a free one-woman show at the Summer Street Gallery, of The Center for Arts in Natick.

Since 2001, the Center for Arts Natick has been housed in the circa 1875 historic Central Fire House, where the Summer Street Gallery provides an opportunity for accomplished visual artists in the region to have their work prominently displayed for TCAN’s diverse and loyal audience.

The Center for Arts Natick believes the arts are essential to a complete human experience and to the creation of a vibrant, healthy community. TCAN serves the Boston MetroWest region by increasing opportunities to experience, participate in, and learn about the arts. To this end, TCAN strives to present arts programs of the highest standard that are available to everyone. TCAN dedicates its resources to providing community access to diverse arts programs, reducing barriers to attendance, and building appreciation through arts education.

If you’re in the Boston or Metro West area, please stop by to see the Great Blue Herons. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.

The gallery is open whenever the box office is open, so please check hours here.

And who knows, maybe I’ll see you there one day.

I’d like that.

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Cee Neuner, Debhie Smyth, Becky B, and the community of Lens Artists encourage the entire international network of photographers and writers. Please click the links below to see the beautiful offerings from these wonderful photographers.

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Thanks to Cee for her CFFC: Square Odds and Thursday Trios.
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Thanks to Becky for her The Square Odds challenge. Yes, it’s hip to be square!
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Thanks to Becky also for her Square Odds Gallery which showcases some delightful images from many interesting photographers.

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Thanks to Debbie for her One Word Sunday: Even.
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Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District logo

Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and a half and they need your love more than ever.

.

The Natick Center Cultural District is situated in a friendly, classic New England town hosting a vibrant, contemporary fusion of art, culture and business. Click here and here to learn more!

.
.

My brick & mortar presence in Massachusetts dates back to 2009 in several local venues/galleries.

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick – Current one-woman photography show through February 2022
.
Natick Town Hall – Current group exhibit thru June 2022
.
Five Crows Gallery in Natick – Represented since 2013
.
Audubon Sanctuary
.

Be a fly on the wall! Please CLICK HERE to see the Great Blue Herons gracing the gallery walls.
.

.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2022 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick, Pink Flamingo
Read the rest of this entry

OOPS! Beautiful Great Blue Heron Misses the Landing (Not Art Nbr 30)

Great Blue Heron misses her landing and does a faceplant in a pine tree - babsjeheron   © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron misses the landing and does a faceplant in a pine tree – babsjeheron

A simple miscalculation, and the Great Blue Heron landed with his head thrust beneath the green, beak agape, eyes wide with protective membrane in place.

I would love to have the talent to fly and soar and wheel on the winds like the birds, but, lacking feathers, enough about me.

He launched from the limb that overhung the water in a sudden burst of energy, one wing stroke followed by more in rapid succession.

His wings pulled outward, forward, fully extended, then back in another burst bringing him to the tip of the pine bough.

His birdness revealed itself as feet reached forward to grasp the branch, all the while wings fluttered to help him hover into position. To and fro they rapidly fanned the air as he eased into position.

The green needled bough sunk under the force of his landing, and for a moment he teetered there, on the edge of his feathers aching for balance.

And suddenly he disappeared!

No, wait, there he is… face down on the soft pine.

Great Blue Heron does a faceplant when trying to land in a pine tree - babsjeheron   © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron does a faceplant when trying to land in a pine tree – babsjeheron

A simple miscalculation, and he landed with his head thrust beneath the green, beak agape, eyes wide with protective membrane in place.

Suspense and anxiety were palpable, as I watched his hovering-balancing. His wings at first stretched out flat on the surface, then retracted back and up, and within seconds he was upright and preening once again.

I have never before seen a Heron look so utterly birdlike, and so vulnerable, as in those few seconds. One look, and you could see what binds Herons with both Hummingbird and Hawk.

And you could see that sometimes even beautiful Herons can benefit from practice…and being mindful.

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Cee Neuner and the creative and inspiring Lens Artists Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya all encourage the community of photographers and writers. Please click the links below to see the beautiful offerings from these wonderful photographers.

The focus for this week’s Lens Artist challenge hosted by Ann-Christine is “One Image One Story.”

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Thanks to Cee for her Hunt for joy. I don’t know if this challenge is still on, but I really like the idea of searching for joy. This Heron has brought great joy.
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 176: One Image, One Story .
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 176: One Image, One Story .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 176: One Image, One Story .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 176: One Image, One Story.
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Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and a half and they need your love more than ever.
.

Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District

.

The Natick Center Cultural District is situated in a friendly, classic New England town hosting a vibrant, contemporary fusion of art, culture and business. Learn more!

.
.

My brick & mortar presence in Massachusetts dates back to 2009 in several local venues/galleries.

Please watch this space for news of my upcoming Winter 2022 gallery show.

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
.
Natick Town Hall
.
Five Crows Gallery in Natick
.
Audubon Sanctuary
.

Be a fly on the wall! Please CLICK HERE to see the Great Blue Herons gracing the gallery walls.
.

.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2021 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick
Read the rest of this entry

Epic Great Blue Heron Rescue Redux

Great Blue Heron lands a large fish - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron lands a large fish – babsjeheron

If i could talk to the animals – just imagine it,
speaking with a Chimp in chimpanzee!
Imagine talking to a Tiger, or chatting with a Cheetah –
what a neat achievement that would be!

If i could talk to the animals, learn their languages –
maybe take an animal degree…
I’d study Elephant and Eagle, Buffalo and Beagle,
Alligator, Guinea Pig and Flea!

[first bridge] I would converse in Polar Bear and Python,
and I would curse in fluent Kangaroo.
If people asked me, “can you speak Rhinoceros?”
I’d say, “of course-eros!

Can’t you?”

If I Could Talk To The Animals by Leslie Bricusse
Doctor Doolittle

Raise your hand if you talk to the animals.

Now raise your other hand if the animals talk to you.

You over there – put your other hand up, too. You and you, too.

Animals communicate with humans in many ways, some oral and others non-verbal.

Who doesn’t know what a dog’s growl portends? Or the sweet purring of a tabby cat? Frequent readers of this blog may recall my stories of Great Blue Herons’ greetings: arrrh and goooh, and their guttural frawhnk of alarm.

And as for the non-verbal, animal body language can be very telling. What is a cat saying with ears flattened back and tail swishing from side to side? Or a dog wagging its tail so enthusiastically that its entire rump is wagging, too? Readers of earlier posts here may recall learning that a Heron standing in a ramrod-straight posture, with neck fully extended and head held high, is a Heron on high alert.

Today’s post is the true story of an heroic Great Blue Heron rescue capped off by the Heron communicating with her rescuer, saying “thank you” in an unmistakable way.

When I posted about the rescue earlier this year, Wayne of Tofino Photography suggested that I send the hero a photo of the beautiful rescued Great Blue Heron.

That was easier said than done – I had met him only once years ago in a taxi and didn’t know his name or how to reach him. All I knew was that he was an avid Bass-fishing aficionado, a retired police officer, and part time taxi driver in town.

This was shaping up to be a needle in a haystack quest.

I took a chance and reached out to the owner of the taxi company. A few weeks went by before she called me back, curious about the story. I explained about the heroic rescue and that I wanted to thank him. A couple more weeks went by before I heard back – she found him by going back more than ten years in the records. She said she spoke with him and he remembered that day very clearly.

Fast forward many more weeks until this past Sunday morning, when my phone rang. It was a call from the fisherman hero. His name is Dennis.

We had a lovely, warm chat. It warmed my heart to hear Dennis retell his experience: the day after the Heron rescue, he went fishing again in the same cove and discovered that the Heron was gone, she wasn’t on the shore where he had placed her the day before.

And then a Great Blue Heron flew low and slow right across his bow, nearly touching his shoulder. Dennis told me he was convinced it was the Heron’s way of acknowledging him, thanking him. And I agree.

Hearing Dennis tell his story again brought tears to my eyes.

I want to again thank Dennis for rescuing my favorite Heron from certain death. How many other boaters on the water would bother with an entangled bird I wonder?

I want to thank the excellent wildlife photographer and videographer Wayne for encouraging me to find and thank fisherman hero Dennis. Please visit Tofino Photography to see outstanding photos of Eagles, Bears, Orcas and more.

And I want to thank Joanne of Tommy’s Taxi for caring enough about the story I had told to dig through ten years of records to find, and connect me with, Dennis, the hero of the tale below. How many busy company owners would take the time to do that kind of research?
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Young Osprey perched amid pinecones.

Young Osprey perched amid pinecones – babsjeheron

When the fire alarm sounds grew ominously closer, I was photographing an immature Osprey nestled high up amongst the pinecone clusters just down the channel and around the bend from the boathouse. 

Quickly, I stashed the camera below deck and paddled rapidly back to the dock. Judging from the black billowing smoke, it seemed possible that the boathouse was the scene of the fire, and I was concerned for the dockhands there. 

I arrived at the dock and discovered a van engulfed in flames just at the moment the driver escaped through the back door. The sirens from the fire trucks were getting louder as they grew closer, but the firemen weren’t yet on the scene. 
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  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com) Van fully engulfed in flames on road next to boathouse on Columbus Day weekend.

Van fully engulfed in flames on the road next to the boathouse – babsjeheron

A speeding motorboat swerved in alongside me and the driver launched himself over the bow and hit the water running like a military commando, dashing toward the vehicle, taking charge of the scene. It was a striking action scene like something from a film.

The firemen soon arrived and doused the flames in the van and the utility pole, and Alex and Jason had the boathouse under control – the electrical system was toast due to the burned utility lines, but no fire damage otherwise.

It was the last day of the season for the boathouse that year, and so I slipped back down the channel for a final circuit of the lake, a final good bye to the Great Blue Herons for the season – always a poignant afternoon for me.
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Fast forward nearly a year. New England was experiencing one of its blistering July heat waves, so hot I took a taxi to the lake rather than walking there with all my gear. 

The cab driver and I got to talking as people are sometimes wont to do in taxis, and he started to tell me about his bass fishing tournaments and then about the time he was at the lake and there was a fire.

Great Blue Heron fishing near the reeds and pickerel weed - babsjeheron    © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron fishing near the reeds and pickerel weed – babsjeheron

I took a closer look at his cab photo then and realized that he was the speedboat commando who had pulled alongside me the day of the fire. Just to be sure, I asked him to describe his boat, and it was the exact boat I had seen that October day, and he confirmed that he had indeed dashed out of the boat to assist in the rescue. As it turns out, he was a retired police officer, so that sort of action in the face of a fire was ingrained by his training and experience.

We marveled a bit at the coincidence of having witnessed the fire together that day, and I mentioned that I had spent the rest of my time there that day photographing and saying goodbye to the Herons for the year.

And what the taxi driver Dennis told me next made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

After I had gone in for the day, and after he was done assisting with the fire, he went back out fishing on the lake, and headed into the small cove between the two tunnels. There are a couple of semi-submerged pines laying on the surface, where there is often good fishing.

Great blue heron fishing with a feather as bait.

Great Blue Heron shaking a Seagull feather. She is standing on the same partly-submerged pine log where she had been tangled in fishing line – babsjeheron

That day, however, he came across a Great Blue Heron caught in fishing line on one of the pine logs. The line was caught in the Heron’s wing and foot, and the Heron was struggling and obviously very weakened by the time he got there.

Dennis idled his boat, and pulled up as near to the Heron on the pine as possible, and got out of the boat. He cut the tangled line, freeing the Heron, but the Heron was too weak to take off, it was too weak to even lift its head.

He then picked up the Heron, and took it to the shore. He laid it down on the ground and cradled it, placing its head and neck in a good position so it could breathe easier.

Dennis stayed with the Heron as long as he could, but had to leave before the boat ramp access closed for the day.

The next day, he went back to check on the Heron.

It was gone, not on the ground where he had placed it.

He went about his fishing for a while.

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

Great Blue Heron preening two years after her rescue – babsjeheron

At one point – I don’t remember how long he had been out by then – a Great Blue Heron flew low and slow right across his bow, nearly touching his shoulder.

They don’t do that, you know.

Dennis was convinced it was the Heron’s way of acknowledging him, thanking him.

And I agree.
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In the taxi the following July as Dennis told me his tale, he showed me the photos he had taken with his cell phone of the Heron, while she was entangled on the pine log and then on the shore.

If I had them, I’d share them here. Since I don’t, I’ve posted four of my own photos here of the same Great Blue Heron he saved that day.

What a magnificent creature she is.

And what a hero Dennis is.

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Cee Neuner and the creative and inspiring Lens Artists Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya all encourage the community of photographers and writers. Please click the links below to see the beautiful offerings from these wonderful photographers.

The focus for this week’s Lens Artist challenge hosted by guest host Lindy is “Follow Your Bliss.” Frequent readers here should have little doubt that the Great Blue Herons bring me bliss

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Thanks to Cee for her Hunt for joy. I don’t know if this challenge is still on, but I really like the idea of searching for joy. This Heron has brought great joy.
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From guest host Lindy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 175: Follow Your Bliss .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 175: Follow Your Bliss .
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 175: Follow Your Bliss .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 175: Follow Your Bliss .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 175: Follow Your Bliss.
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Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and a half and they need your love more than ever.
.

Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District

.

The Natick Center Cultural District is situated in a friendly, classic New England town hosting a vibrant, contemporary fusion of art, culture and business. Learn more!

.
.

My brick & mortar presence in Massachusetts dates back to 2009 in several local venues/galleries.

Please watch this space for news of my upcoming Winter 2022 gallery show.

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
.
Natick Town Hall
.
Five Crows Gallery in Natick
.
Audubon Sanctuary
.

Be a fly on the wall! Please CLICK HERE to see the Great Blue Herons gracing the gallery walls.
.

.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2021 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick
Read the rest of this entry

Beautiful Great Blue Heron’s Guest…Dragonfly?

Great blue heron eye-to-eye with dragonfly - babsjeheron   © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron eye-to-eye with Dragonfly – babsjeheron

“So lovely. There were many dragonflies – tasty – and I love how their wings tickle on my tongue…” said the Great Blue Heron to nobody in particular.

Looking at the Dragonfly perched so enticingly on the tip of the Heron’s beak above, did you wonder if Dragonfly was on the lunch menu that day?
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Dragonfly teasing great blue heron - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Dragonfly teasing Great Blue Heron – babsjeheron

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Is it just me, or did you, too, hear a Dragonfly’s voice sing-songing that childhood playground taunt, “Nah nah nah boo-boo, you can’t catch me?”
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Great Blue Heron fledgling wondering where he put his glasses, erm dragonfly - babsjeheron  © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron fledgling wondering where he put his glasses, erm Dragonfly – babsjeheron

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“Now, where did I put my glasses, erm Dragonfly?” the heron asked of no one in particular, wondering where his memory has gone. Often, I wonder where my own glasses have wandered off to. What about you?

Dragonfly Hitchhiker - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Dragonfly Hitchhiker – babsjeheron

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File this one under silly nonsense just for fun!

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This post is prompted by Cee Neuner, Debbie Smyth, Jez Braithwaite and the creative and inspiring Lens Artists Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya, all of whom encourage the community of photographers and writers.

This week’s Lens Artist challenge comes from Ann-Christine. The topic is Weird and Wonderful. Do you think it weird for a Dragonfly to tantalize a much larger Great Blue Heron? Cheeky Dragonfly!
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Please click the links below to see the beautiful offerings from these wonderful photographers.
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Thanks to Cee for her Hunt for joy. I don’t know if this challenge is still on, but I really like the idea of searching for joy. The Herons bring joy.
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Thanks to Debbie for her Six Word Saturday. The title is the requisite six words long.
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Thanks to Jez for the Water Water Everywhere Challenge. The foreground of one photo is water.
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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 171: Weird and Wonderful .
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 171: Weird and Wonderful .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 171: Weird and Wonderful .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 171: Weird and Wonderful .

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Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and a half and they need your love more than ever.
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Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District

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The Natick Center Cultural District is situated in a friendly, classic New England town hosting a vibrant, contemporary fusion of art, culture and business. Learn more!

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My brick & mortar presence in Massachusetts dates back to 2009 in several local venues/galleries.

Please watch this space for news of my upcoming Winter 2022 gallery show.

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
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Natick Town Hall
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Five Crows Gallery in Natick
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Audubon Sanctuary
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Be a fly on the wall! Please CLICK HERE to see the Great Blue Herons gracing the gallery walls.
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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2021 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick, Dragonfly
Read the rest of this entry

Beautiful Great Blue Herons at Waterfalls

Wherein the Great Blue Heron Sticks his Landing - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Wherein the Great Blue Heron Sticks his Landing – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron fishing in water falling over a dam in the Charles River Watershed - babsjeheron   © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron fishing in a Charles River Watershed dam – babsjeheron

Most of the time, the Great Blue Heron could be seen actively fishing at the base of the falls shown in photo above, retrieving fish unlucky enough to have been swept over. And sometimes, some very special times, the Heron would stand atop the dam, with the water rushing over his feet and stare off into the distance at the colors of the setting sun.

Great Blue Heron at our Waterfall - babsjeheron   © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron at our Waterfall – babsjeheron

It is very easy to become absorbed – too absorbed – by the scene unfolding through the lens. That day of the above photo, I was so engrossed with following the Great Blue Heron through my lens that I nearly stepped over the edge into clear air. Every couple of years, we read news stories of people falling off cliffs or going into waterfalls while taking photos. I learned how easily that can happen. One more step, and I would have been in the water below the falls.

Double exposure of a Great Blue Heron looking in the same direction fishing in the waterfall - babsjeheron    © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Double exposure of Herons facing the same direction at the waterfall – babsjeheron

To love is not to look at one another: it is to look, together, in the same direction.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Wind, Sand, and Stars

Great Blue Heron and waterfall. You can't step in the same waters twice - babsjeheron    © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron and waterfall. You can’t step in the same waters twice – babsjeheron

What a difference a year can make in the same waterfall. Normal years, top, and drought, bottom.

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This post is prompted by Cee Neuner, Debbie Smyth, Jez Braithwaite and the creative and inspiring Lens Artists Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya, all of whom encourage the community of photographers and writers.

The focus for this week’s LAPC is The Ordinary. This week, the Lens Artists have invited blogger I.J. Khanewala here as guest host. Welcome I.J.!

All of the photos today were ordinary days fishing with my camera for Great Blue Herons that were fishing at local waterfalls. Of course, my sense of the ordinary may be different than yours.

Please click the links below to see the beautiful offerings from these wonderful photographers.
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Thanks to Cee for her CFFC: Straight Lines. The lines of water falling came straight down.
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Thanks to Debbie for her Six Word Saturday. The title is the requisite six words long.
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Thanks to Jez for the Water Water Everywhere Challenge. This post has quite a bit of water.
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From I.J. Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 169: The Ordinary .
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 169: The Ordinary .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 169: The Ordinary .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 169: The Ordinary .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 169: The Ordinary .

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Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and a half and they need your love more than ever.
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Art in the Park 2021

Art in the Park 2021.

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Tomorrow, Sunday October 17th, Shaw Park in South Natick comes alive with Art in the Park. There will be over 2 dozen local artists enjoying the fresh air and offering their art for your enjoyment. Stop in between 10am and 3pm ET for a gorgeous Autumn day of art and music. (I am recovering from eye surgery and will not be showing this year, but hope to see you next October!)

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My brick & mortar presence in Massachusetts dates back to 2009 in several local venues/galleries.

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
.
Natick Town Hall
.
Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
Audubon Sanctuary
.

Be a fly on the wall! You can CLICK HERE to see the gallery walls with Herons .
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Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2021 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick
Read the rest of this entry

Beautiful Great Blue Heron in Autumn and a Large Mouth Bass

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

Great Blue Heron by Falling Waters in Autumn – babsjeheron

“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.

Great Blue Herons and Red Tail Hawks often frequented this spot, fishing for the Trout, Bass, and Pickerel in the pools at the base of the falling water. Finding a Heron there when the Autumn colors were in full display was challenging and I spent many hours over 7 or 8 years hidden in my kayak across the channel in hopes of capturing a Great Blue with the striking autumn leaves. Good things come to she who waits.
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The Herons have plenty of other fishing holes nearby. And so do the humans. Bass Fishing Tournaments take place frequently – some with big bucks in prize money.
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I don’t think the Great Blue Heron in the photo sequences below paid a tournament entry fee, but he didn’t use any illegal bait to land that Largemouth Bass. I know the Bass he caught didn’t get properly weighed at take out what with having been gulped down mid-tourney, but I bet the size of that fish would have made some of the fishermen weep.
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Great Blue Heron Lands Large Mouth Bass - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Lands Largemouth Bass – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Large Mouth Bass Nbr 1- babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Walking Down the Shore Carrying the Largemouth Bass – babsjeheron

Great Blue Heron Large Mouth Bass Nbr 2 - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

The Heron Put Down the Bass for a Moment, then Picked it Up and Turned Around – babsjeheron

The Heron Once Again put the Bass Down then Retrieved it – babsjeheron

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The bulge in the Heron’s elongated neck in the last frame above? The Largemouth Bass. The total elapsed time between landing the Bass and the final frame above was only two and a half minutes. I’m not sure how to estimate the weight of that Bass, but I’m pretty sure any good fisherman reading this can weigh in.

I think this Bass is a bigger fish in terms of weight than the large Pike shown below. What do you think?

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

Great Blue Heron with large Pike – babsjeheron

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When I returned belatedly to the dock after one Bass tournament, the boat departures had already begun, yet there were still more than 30 boats lined up on the shore.

Bass Tournament with 30 Boats - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Bass Tournament with 30 Boats Remaining on Shore – babsjeheron

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This post is prompted by Cee Neuner, Dawn Miller, Jez Braithwaite, and the creative and inspiring Lens Artists Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya, all of whom encourage the community of photographers and writers. The focus for this week’s LAPC is Colors of Autumn. The lead photo on this post has vibrant reds.

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Thanks to Cee for her Hunt for joy. I don’t know if this challenge is still on, but I really like the idea of searching for joy. The Herons bring joy.
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Thanks to Dawn for her Festival of Leaves . This post has bright red autumn leaves.
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Thanks to Jez for the Water Water Everywhere Challenge. This post has quite a bit of water.
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 167: Colors of Autumn .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 167: Colors of Autumn .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 167: Colors of Autumn .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 167: Colors of Autumn .
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Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and they need your love.

My brick & mortar presence in Massachusetts dates back to 2009 in several local venues/galleries.

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
.
Natick Town Hall
.
Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
Audubon Sanctuary
.

Be a fly on the wall! You can CLICK HERE to see the gallery walls with Herons .
.

.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2021 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick, Large Mouth Bass
Read the rest of this entry

Mute Swan Pair Flying in Tandem

Mute Swan Pair Flying in Tandem- babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Mute Swan Pair Flying in Tandem- babsjeheron

Have you ever seen
anything
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon…

The Sun, Mary Oliver, excerpt
New and Selected Poems

Mute Swan Pair Flying in Tandem Nbr 2 - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Mute Swan Pair Flying in Tandem Nbr 2 – babsjeheron

On cold winter days, one of the Mute Swans resident on my small lake watched from just beyond the dock as I refilled the birdfeeders each morning. When my back was turned as I walked up to the house, the Swan would occasionally venture into the yard to scoop up seeds scattered by our winter birds – Blue Jays and Cardinals and Chickadees.

But only when my back was turned.

The winter turned harsher than any in recent memory. The birds were ravenous and emptied all the feeders before noon.

And then one morning it happened.

The Swan climbed up the short bank to where I stood at the third feeder. He dipped his head, bending that graceful neck down and then back up.

Twice.

We locked eyes.

I extended my arm tenuously towards the Swan, my gloved hand full of seeds.

As he nibbled hungrily, I stared at the top of his head. The feathers weren’t the pristine white I expected to see. And they didn’t look like any feather I’d seen before or since. They looked like rows of the tiniest, finest wale corduroy imaginable.

Peaceable co-existence abounded on those frigid mornings. And eventually the Swan became comfortable with my presence.

I love peaceable co-existence, wherever – and however – it manifests.

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This post is prompted by Cee Neuner, Debbie Smyth, Dawn Miller and the creative and inspiring Lens Artists Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya, all of whom encourage the community of photographers and writers. The focus for this week’s LAPC is Artificial Light. Herons usually don’t hang out in artificial light where I live, so how about two photos illuminated by artificial light.

TCAN One-Woman Show December 2019-January 2020 Lobby Wall With TCAN Reflection © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

TCAN Lobby Wall Photo with TCAN Graphic Reflection

x-ray of broken heel © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

My Broken Heel – An X-Ray uses Artificial Light

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Thanks to Cee for her Hunt for joy. I don’t know if this challenge is still on, but I really like the idea of searching for joy. The Herons bring joy.
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Thanks to Debbie for her Six Word Saturday . This post title has the requisite six words!
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Thanks to Dawn for her Festival of Leaves . This post has muted autumn leaves, to go with the mute swans.
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 166: Artificial wLight .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 166: Artificial Light .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 166: Artificial Light .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 166: Artificial Light .
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.

Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and they need your love.

My brick & mortar presence in Massachusetts dates back to 2009 in several local venues/galleries.

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
.
Natick Town Hall
.
Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
Audubon Sanctuary
.

Be a fly on the wall! You can CLICK HERE to see the gallery walls with Herons .
.

.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2021 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick, Mute Swan
Read the rest of this entry

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