Blog Archives

There Be Herons Here

Out of the shadows, the wild steps
lightly, all sharing the same dream
rising from the dry, dry earth.

In Sight (excerpt)

John Dofflemyer
Wind Under my Skin

© Babsje (

Great Blue Heron and Boulder Nbr1 (09-21-2014)

 © Babsje (   Great blue heron with broken leg perched on boulder.

For perspective, the only-slightly-below-normal water level of an earlier summer. (09-05-2011)

© Babsje (

Great Blue Heron and Boulder Nbr2 (09-21-2014)

© Babsje (

There Be Herons Here (09-28-2014)

© Babsje (

Great Blue Heron and Boulder Nbr3 (10-13-2014)

© Babsje (

Two Boulders Après le Deluge (10-25-14)


Last week’s photo challenge is Depth. Thanks to Ben H and WordPress for this topic. Our lake is 625 acres, with a depth around 69 feet. The water level fluctuates during every summer, but the summer of 2014 saw a drought unlike years in recent memory. As the drought wore on, the receding waters opened new shallows where the Great Blue Herons could forage. The rains came at last during mid-October, raising the water level more than two feet. How much rainfall do you suppose it takes to raise a 625 acre lake two feet?

This week’s photo challenge is Scale. Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress. The three Great Blue Herons here offer a glimpse of the scale of the drought here last summer. Compared to the heartbreaking drought out West, the scope of the situation in Massachusetts was nothing. One of my favorite WordPress poets, John Dofflemyer, has eloquently, poignantly chronicled the impact of the near-five-year-long drought at his ranch. If you like the poetry of Wendell Berry, you will like John’s. Check it out at drycrikjournal.

A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2015 Babsje. (

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking

Memories – reblogged from ospreypaddler

As 2014 glides into 2015, memories of years past float to the surface for many of us. In this post, fellow kayaker kestrelgwh elegantly explores the role of memories, saying “…sometimes the memories take the form of a story. Like a tool in a cabinet, we keep pulling it out of the drawer where it is stored, handle it, turn it, reflect on its significance and use to us.”  He shares a memory of an exhilarating kayak outing written with such a sense of immediacy that my pulse quickened as though I were there in the kayak, myself, as the bow rose the crest of powerful waves, only to plummet quickly into the following trough – over and over for his two-hour solo journey under perilous conditions.

I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did. And may your memories this New Years Eve nourish that which sustains you.


We lose everything, but make harvest

of the consequences it was to us. Memory

builds this kingdom from the fragments

and approximation. We are gleaners who fill

the barn for the winter that comes on.

 –Jack Gilbert, “Moreover”

This is the time of year when ranchers in Montana pull stored sunlight out of their barns and spread it on frozen fields for hungry animals. This is the time of year when Blackfeet, Salish and Crow pull stories out of ancient storehouses and remind each other who they are and where they came from. Memories are the feast of the season.

At this time of the year a paddler builds a kingdom out of remembered fragments and approximations of the season past. In many cases the memories are composed only of images—a wave that caught my brother on the upwind side of a dock, lifted him on its crest and almost…

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Three of us Fishing – Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour

A flash of blue-grey to my left – the female great blue heron, swooping onto the western shore – the same female who back then chose me as the lesser of the evils.

Great blue heron peering beneath the surface.

Great blue heron fishing in the golden light.

I watched her doing herony things from a respectful telephoto distance, not wanting to get too close lest I scare her off, but anxious about the solo fisherman casting into the cove from his perch along the tunnel overpass.

Suddenly, the heron made her move, and strode purposefuly north, until she reached the tunnel.

And the lone fisherman.

Concerned, I paddled cross the channel and struck up my usual fisherman’s conversation with him.

“Catching anything?”


“Good. What’re you using for bait?”


“Great weather for October!”


He settled back into the rhythm of his fishing.

Heron settled in to the rhythm of her fishing, too, watching the baitfish soar out on the end of its tether, occasionally swooping out to pick up the leftovers after he reeled back in.

And I settled in to the rhythm of camera fishing, squeezing off photos here and there in the golden light of end of day.

Thanks for the Weekly Photo Challenge nudge Cheri Lucas Rowlands and WordPress.


(This took place October 7, 2007)

© 2013 Babsje. (

Artists and Models – Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour

Are there any artists who don’t fall in love with their models, their muses?

I am enamored of them all, the great blue herons I’ve been observing for the past decade in the watershed here. 

Our winters can be harsh, so generally I’m not able to be out on the water from December until April. Once back on the lakes each spring, I survey the area, looking for each of the individuals in their usual territory of years past. Inventorying the herons once the brooding of eggs has started is a challenge – while there is one active nest visible by kayak, and another two that I’ve suspected based on observation of flight paths and satellite photos, the two main rookeries are three to four miles distant. During nesting when a parent adult is with the chicks at the nest round the clock, the number of birds to be found foraging along the shoreline is cut in half. By early August, though, when the year’s crop of nestlings has fledged and the adults are no longer needed at the nest, its easier to find the whole population.

Great blue heron with flowering grasses in small pond. © Babsje (

Great blue heron with flowering grasses in small pond.

Each year brings great relief and big smiles when I find the individuals I’ve been following over the years, and also some anxiety around the missing herons. And of course, it’s an interesting exercise to identify juveniles who have gone through their molt, taking on adult plumage that alters their appearance markedly since I saw them the previous autumn.

The heron shown in the long shot here is one I was anxious about last summer. He first started letting me photograph him back in 2006, but was absent all during 2012, not a single sighting. Herons can live upwards of 15 years. He was fully adult back in 2006, when I would have pegged his age around 7, give-or-take, which might have put him around 13 last summer. I wondered about his survival.

In my secret fantasy, the herons who have gone missing have merely moved on to one of the other lakes or ponds in the watershed, although I know that the reality is that some simply are no more.

Imagine my elation this afternoon, then, realizing that my fantasy came true for this heron: for the first time in two summers, I found him – he was plying the grassy shores of a small pond about a mile and a half from the large lake where he used to feed. I am thrilled, and smitten all over again.

Thanks for the Weekly Photo Challenge nudge Cheri Lucas Rowlands and WordPress.


(This took place July 13, 2013)

© 2013 Babsje. (

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