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Beautiful Great Blue Heron Sweet, Tender Moment and Fly-on-the-Wall

Great Blue Heron Profile - babsjeheeon   © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Profile – babsjeheeon

She’s gathered up all the time in the world
– nothing else – and waits for scanty trophies,
complete in herself as a heron.

Denise Levertov,
Sands of the Well

Mid-week afternoons in August are good at the lake. Many people are at work and many others go away on vacation the last 10 days of August, so I had the waters almost to myself.

I rounded a bend and unexpectedly came upon a man in a green canoe with the name Puffin stenciled on the side in white. He was sitting in the stern with his young son tucked against him, holding the boy with one arm, paddling with the other.

The boy was about 2 or 3, and beaming with happiness in his nice, bright yellow pfd.

Their canoe was perpendicular to the shore, and the little boy’s hand was pointing to the bank, his eyes so wide.

My eyes followed his finger … to a Great Blue Heron.

The Heron flew off, the canoe glided off, and I paddled on my way.

About half an hour later the green canoe returned, gliding up behind my yellow kayak, and then alongside me, so soundlessly I was unaware of their approach until they had overtaken me.

But the Heron on the shore had seen them — his posture straightened, head perked up, a subtle shift in his stance as though about to brace for flight.

The green canoe just glided by, very very slowly, and when closest to the bird, the toddler jutted out out his hand and waved at the Heron. “Bye Heron,” said the boy.

And so the father waved, too.

“Bye Heron,” said the man.

Then they were gone.

It was a tender, sweet encounter with the toddler in the green canoe. At any moment, he could have jumped up and squealed and clapped his hands in delight – all perfectly normal for a two-year-old. The spell thus broken, though, the Heron would have flushed in alarm.

But the toddler didn’t.

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

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

As they follow the sun, I follow the Herons.
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Great Blue Heron Camouflaged - babsjeheron © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Back-lit by Golden Hour Light – babsjeheron

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This post is prompted by Cee and Debhie and Paula and the creative and inspiring Lens Artists Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya, all of whom encourage the community of photographers and writers. This week, the Lens Artists focus on gorgeous photos with the theme of It’s All About the Light.

The two photos above in this post reveal lighting with different qualities – elusive autumn light and Golden Hour back-lighting. This next photo shows artificial lighting bathing gallery walls at Mass Audubon for my one-woman show. Be a fly on the wall! Please CLICK HERE to see the Herons and Egrets .

MASS Audubon One-Woman Show July 2009 - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

MASS Audubon One-Woman Show July 2009


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Thanks to Cee for her CMMC: Two M’s The word ‘Moment’ in the post title has two m’s.
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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 Paula for her Thursdays Special: Pick a Word in August: Solitary. The Great Blue Herons show above are solitary beings when not at a rookery or in breeding season.
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 162: About the Light .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 162: About the Light .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 162: About the Light .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 162: About the 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! Please CLICK HERE to see the Herons and Egrets .
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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 Egret Keeping it Light

Egret lunging from the shore to catch a fish  - babsjeheron. © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Egret lunging from the shore to catch a fish – babsjeheron

Egret in profile.

Egret in profile – babsjeheron

The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well.

~ Lewis Carroll
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass

Egret looks into entrance of pipe.

Egret looks inside – babsjeheron

“Hmmm,” said Egret to nobody in particular. “The book says that the rabbit-hole goes straight like a tunnel… This looks like a tunnel to me. Could this be that famous rabbit-hole, I wonder?”
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Egret investigates another pipe entrance.

Egret investigates another tunnel – babsjeheron

“Or, maybe this tunnel here is the real rabbit-hole?” muttered Egret. “Looks like it goes straight, too, but it’s too dark in there to see if it dips suddenly down. What I wouldn’t give for a lantern right about now.”
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Curious egret peers into pipe entrance.

Curious egret peers into entrance – babsjeheron

Egret was thinking to himself, “These tunnels are all starting to look the same to me,” until he came across this one. “Yikes, there are bars on this one. I wonder if the bars are intended to keep what’s inside in, or what’s outside out?”
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“Maybe I should go ask Alice before I try to go through any of them” Egret sighed at last before launching into flight.
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The End.
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Please CLICK HERE for more Great Egret Photos . (Note: I will update the Gallery with more photos soon.)
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Obligatory Great Blue Heron:

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

Great Blue Heron Fishes with Feather – babsjeheron

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This post is prompted by Cee Neuner and the creative and inspiring Lens Artists Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya, all of whom encourage the community of photographers and writers. This week, the Lens Artists focus on gorgeous photos with the theme of It’s All About the Light.

There are many kinds of light – natural and artificial, incandescent, LED, Ultra-Violet, sunrise, sunset, and do you remember what Noel Coward wrote about the noon sun – “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.”

But there’s another kind of light: light-hearted. And that is what today’s Great Egret post is all about – just a silly bit of light-hearted fun.
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Thanks to Cee for her CMMC: Close Up The Great Egret is giving those three tunnels a close up inspection.
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 162: About the Light .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 162: About the Light .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 162: About the Light .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 162: About the Light .
.

.

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.

2015 (May), 2016 (March and July), 2018 (May, June, July), 2019 (December), 2020 (January) several one-woman photography shows at TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
.
2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
.
2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary
.

.

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 Egret, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick
Read the rest of this entry

Beautiful Great Blue Heron Gone Fishing

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

Great Blue Heron Catching Large Fish – babsjeheron

Fresh beauty opens one’s eyes wherever it is really seen.

John Muir
The Mountains of California

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 two 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. There is one active nest visible by kayak, and another two that I’ve pegged based on observation of flight paths and satellite photos, and the two main rookeries are three to four miles distant.

Inventorying the Herons once the brooding of eggs has started is a challenge. During nesting when at least one parent adult is with the chicks at the nest round the clock 24/7, 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.

Each year brings great relief 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 immatures who have gone through their molt, taking on adult plumage that alters their appearance markedly since I last had seen them the previous autumn.

Great blue heron with flowering grasses in small pond. © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron with flowering grasses in small pond – babsjeheron

The Heron shown in the long shot above is one I was anxious about that previous summer. It first started letting me photograph back in 2006, but was absent all during 2012, not a single sighting. Herons can live upwards of 15 years, with some reportedly as old as 23. It was fully adult back in 2006, when I would have pegged the age around 7, give-or-take, which might have put it around 13 that previous summer. I wondered about 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 one afternoon, then, realizing that my fantasy came true for this Great Blue Heron: for the first time in two summers, I found the Heron – plying the grassy shores of a small pond about a mile and a half from the large lake where it used to feed. I was thrilled.

However, sightings of this Great Blue Heron after the one day at that small pond continued to be elusive.

Fast forward four years and 6.6 miles. In the intervening four years, I had moved houses and with that move came walking distance access to the Charles River dam and the scenic fish ladder you can see in the photo at the top of this post.

The purpose of the fish ladder is to give fish the means to travel upstream to their spawning ground, since they cannot jump over the dam along side the ladder. I have never observed any fish swimming up the ladder, but I have seen fish tumbling down.

Which brings me back to Great Blue Herons. They love to wait at the base of the dam for unlucky fish swept over the edge.

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

Great Blue Heron at the Dam – babsjeheron

And what about the Great Blue and the Salmon shown in the top photo?

There is no problem so complicated that you can’t find a very simple answer to it if you look at it right.
Douglas Adams
The Salmon of Doubt

The Great Blue Heron tenuously worked her way up the fish ladder, scanning the rushing waters for lunch. The river was in drought conditions that subdued the usually-robust waterfall to a trickle, and her customary fishing hole at the base of the falls proved fruitless.

For more than an hour, she stalked the waters for Salmon, climbing the fish ladder slowly, intently scanning the pooled water at the base of the dam, then pausing to rest, perched there on one leg. All the while, she faced away from the torrent gushing down the ladder behind her.

I could see fish in the rushing waters and wondered if the Heron would shift her focus.

True to that Douglas Adams quote, she finally turned around and looked right at the fish ladder, and left no doubt at all about that Salmon.

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

Great Blue Heron Has Gone Fishing – babsjeheron

Fortunately for the Great Blue Heron, the ‘no fishing in fish ladder’ sign and policy don’t apply to Herons.

And fortunately, too, for this photographer who watched the exciting scene unfold.

And this is where my inner-Heron-geek gets unleashed. I have written recently about the many ways wildlife lovers can identify specific individual birds or animals: unique behaviors, specific territories, distinguishing features, scars, and more.

Remember the Great Blue Heron pictured above in that small pond with the tall golden grasses? The one I was elated to see after a two-year absence from the big lake? Four years later and 6.6 miles south, on an entirely different body of water I found that Heron again – catching a Salmon in the fish ladder.

So, sometimes birds that we think are no longer alive are still with us – they have simply moved on to on new territories.

I love happy endings.
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This post is prompted by Cee Neuner, Debbie Smyth, and the inimitable Lens Artists Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya, all of whom encourage the community. This week, the Lens Artists focus on gorgeous photos with the theme of Feet and Shoes. What a fun topic!

In the case of this Great Blue Heron, the scarred legs and damaged toes gave it away for me:

Great Blue Heron Has Gone Fishing - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Has Gone Fishing – Note inset of toes – babsjeheron

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Thanks to Cee for her CMMC: Black and White challenge
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Thanks to Debbie for her Six Word Saturday . This post title has the requisite six words!
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From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 161: Feet and Shoes .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 161: Feet and Shoes .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 161: Feet and Shoes .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 161: Feet and Shoes .
.

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.

2015 (May), 2016 (March and July), 2018 (May, June, July), 2019 (December), 2020 (January) several one-woman photography shows at TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
.
2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
.
2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary
.

.

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, B&W
Read the rest of this entry

Great Blue Herons – How Can you Tell them Apart?

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

Great Blue Heron’s erect back feathers stand on edge as a form of territorial dialogue – babsjeheron

“But the Herons are all the same!” exclaimed my friend in an exasperated tone.

I replied to him, “Are all Retrievers the same? All Irish Wolfhounds?”

…Might as well face it, I’m addicted to…Herons. I can talk your ear off about Great Blue Herons, and that’s what I was doing with an old friend many years ago when he suddenly blurted out that all Herons are the same. He eventually came around and acknowledged that he could tell individual dogs apart and conceded that I could probably do the same with Great Blue Herons.

Until we have facial recognition software or AI for birds, photographers can rely on several clues to help identify individual birds. Unique behaviors, specific territories, distinguishing features, scars, and more. I’m working on the facial recognition thing, but in the meantime I do rely on all of those cues, especially physical traits.

Readers of my blog may recall the gorgeous Heron with a broken leg I wrote about earlier. The adult Great Blue in the top photo is a another good example: he has a badly broken toe that has healed at a strange angle, which you can see in the insert of this next photo.

Great Blue Heron soaring with broken toe (inset) - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron soaring with broken toe (inset) – babsjeheron

Those two Great Blues have been lucky to survive and thrive despite their broken bones. That broken leg could have meant a slow death for her. Unlike the Herons, I have had excellent medical care for my own recent break:

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

My Badly Broken Heel – babsjeheron

But enough about me, back to the alpha male Heron.

“To sit and wait is as important as to move” could be a universal mantra for nature photographers, one I was actively practicing Friday from a secluded hide in the cove as the Great Blue Heron sunned herself on the half-submerged logs.

Unexpectedly, however, after half an hour of lazing about, she darted across the narrow channel and launched herself skyward to the west in a flurry of feathers and sqwaks.

Just as she was aloft, an alpha male in hot pursuit swooped down from the east to claim his territory in the cove. I eagerly panned the camera from my hiding place, trying without success to capture the fray, trying and failing to get both birds in a single frame.

The female vanquished from his turf, the male stood on the shore where he had landed – not ten feet away from me – and gazed after her disappearing form.

Only after a few minutes had passed did he turn around, and only then did he see me right there.

The tension was palpable. He stood stock still for a moment, sizing up the human interloper floating in his turf, and then started to erect his back feathers in a territorial display as if to tell me the cove is his.

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

Great Blue Heron on the March – babsjeheron

I have watched this sort of feather display before, but it was always aimed at another Heron. This time, though, it was unmistakably targeted at me.

It was a silent dialogue between Heron and human about who’s the alpha bird.

I let the Heron win.

How could I not?
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Bald Eagle and avian PSA for bird lovers, not to derail my own post: Two Bald Eagles have died in my county, on my river from poisoning, an adult female Bald Eagle and an Eaglet – victims of unintentional rodenticide chemicals. If your home or property are visited by rodents, please ensure that any rodent poison used is not an SGAR type (which some professional exterminators still use). Any birds or mammals that eat the poisoned rodents will themselves be poisoned. Reports of poisoned creatures include Eagles, Coyote, Foxes and Bobcats. It is especially concerning for the Eagles, which have only been reintroduced here within the last four decades. There is also concern for the Great Blue Herons which also consume small mammals like Chipmunks.

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This post is prompted by the Lens Artist ladies (Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya) and Cee Neuner, all of whom encourage the community. This week, the Lens Artists focus on gorgeous photos with the theme of Feet and Shoes. What a fun topic! In addition to the Great Blue Heron’s broken toe, you have seen my own broken heel selfie. Feet can be fascinating.

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 161: Feet and Shoes .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 161: Feet and Shoes .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 161: Feet and Shoes .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 161: Feet and Shoes .
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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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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.

2015 (May), 2016 (March and July), 2018 (May, June, July), 2019 (December), 2020 (January) several one-woman photography shows at TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
.
2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
.
2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary
.

From December 4 through January 28, 2020, my Great Blue Heron photographs were 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.

Many of the photos in the exhibit were shown for the first time, and do not appear on the blog. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.
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Thanks to Erica V and WordPress for the recent WPC: Place in the World. My favorite place is where the Herons are, of course it is. And the Herons? Their place is near the water, but also on the gallery walls and my blog. How else can I share them with you?

Thanks also to Ben H and WordPress for their WPC Challenge: Liquid. The Herons are drawn to water, as am I.
.

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

Beautiful Great Blue Heron Glamour Shot and Focus on Feathers

Great blue heron head-shot in the cove.

Head-shot of Great Blue Heron preening – 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)

How many different types of feathers do you see in this next detailed image?

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

Great Blue Heron Feathers – Detail – babsjeheron

“Everything must be made as simple as possible. But not simpler.” 

~ Albert Einstein

Great blue heron , detail of neck feathers.

Great Blue Heron, detail of neck feathers – babsjeheron

While most people are readily aware of the magnificent wingspan of the Great Blue Heron, the beauty of Heron feathers isn’t simply limited to those huge wings. There are a number of less prominent but still stunning feathers, some arranged in intricate patterns.

The photo detail crop shown above is one I have always liked because of the way it reveals the lovely pattern of a Great Blue Heron’s neck feathers. Here, the Heron has her bill tucked behind a wing, and her neck juts out prominently, showing off the symmetrical pattern of feathers running the length of the neck,

This next photo shows some other great blue feather patterns. Can you guess where on the heron these are found?

Great blue heron feather patterns.

Great Blue Heron feather patterns – babsjeheron

Location of feathers shown – clockwise, from top left:

immature wing,
adult lower neck,
adult upper neck,
adult upper back,
immature shoulder patch.

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

Great Blue Heron Feather – babsjeheron

Red is grey and yellow white,
but we decide which is right,
and which is an illusion.

Moody Blues, Days of Future Passed

The feather shown in the top pane here is the same feather as that shown at bottom. Both photos were taken on the same day, with the same camera and lens, within minutes of each other. Only the background colors have been changed. Its a natural optical illusion.

Some fascinating examples of ‘color illusions’ such as this can be found at Brain Den. Enjoy!

Question: How do Great Blue Herons fly when they’re molting?

Answer: Awkwardly.

And what tutorial on feathers is complete without at least mentioning the molt?

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

Great Blue Heron molting – babsjeheron

Some birds molt by dropping most of their feathers at the same time, and then go into hiding while the new feathers are coming in.

As you can see from the above photo, this young Great Blue Heron has only dropped a full layer of wing feathers already. For comparison, the photo here below shows the intact wing feathers.

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

Great Blue Heron wings for comparison with wings in molt – babsjeheron

It was a treat to observe the molting young Great Blue Heron that summer. Birds in molt tend to make themselves scarce, hiding away until they have regained solid flight, to keep safe from predators. This young Heron chose my favorite cove as a hideout, and so I was able to photograph for a couple of weeks, well-hidden in a natural-cover blind along the shore.

The Heron was able to fly while missing that layer of feathers, but lifting off and gaining altitude seemed slow and clumsy compared to the Heron’s usual gracefulness. Coming in for a landing was also awkward – with fewer heathers to act as “brakes.” If you look closely at the top photo here, you can see that the Heron’s neck and head feathers are all erect. That isn’t a configuration that’s part of their usual landing, and I had the impression that the bird was straining to use all of its feathers – even neck feathers – to land.

Great Blue Herons have special downy feathers that crumble and create a powdery substance they use to clean their other feathers. While the powder down feathers are most comminly mentioned as occurring on the Heron’s chest, I believe that the bright white bands you see in the top photo give a good look at other layers of these special feathers.

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This post is prompted by the Lens Artist ladies (Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya) and Cee Neuner, all of whom encourage the community. This week, the Lens Artists focus on gorgeous photos with the theme of Your Inspiration. It is no secret that a Great Blue Heron is my muse and an inspiration. The poet William Stafford wrote an exquisite poem about muses, “When I Met My Muse.” My reading of that poem is that our muse lives inside each of us. For me, the muse is the Great Blue Heron within. As Stafford wrote

“. . . I am your own
way of looking at things,” she said. “When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation.” And I took her hand.

When I Met My Muse [excerpt]
Poem by William Stafford
Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems of William Stafford

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 160: Inspiration .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 160: Inspiration .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 160: Inspiration .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 160: Inspiration .
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Thanks to Cee for her CFFC: Blue.

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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.

2015 (May), 2016 (March and July), 2018 (May, June, July), 2019 (December), 2020 (January) several one-woman photography shows at TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
.
2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
.
2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary
.

From December 4 through January 28, 2020, my Great Blue Heron photographs were 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.

Many of the photos in the exhibit were shown for the first time, and do not appear on the blog. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.
.

.
Thanks to Erica V and WordPress for the recent WPC: Place in the World. My favorite place is where the Herons are, of course it is. And the Herons? Their place is near the water, but also on the gallery walls and my blog. How else can I share them with you?

Thanks also to Ben H and WordPress for their WPC Challenge: Liquid. The Herons are drawn to water, as am I.
.

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, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick
Read the rest of this entry

Beautiful Great Blue Heron on a Misty Morning

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

Great Blue Heron on Bough – 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.

No two days at the lake were the same. In literally thousands of hours in the field, I have observed a Great Blue Heron on this pine bough only once before, nearly fifteen years ago. Over the years, I’d always scan that spot with binoculars in hopes of again seeing a heron there, but always in vain…

Until that one misty Saturday morning.

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

Great Blue Heron on Bough Nbr 2 – babsjeheron

The photo here captures only the second time I’ve ever seen a Heron perched on that bough. The first time, I wasn’t able to squeeze off a photo before the Heron took flight. So this photo was a first among my tens of thousands of Great Blue Heron photos. I hope it won’t be another fifteen years for the next sighting.
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This post is prompted by the Lens Artist ladies (Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya) and Cee Neuner, all of whom encourage the community. This week, the Lens Artists focus on gorgeous photos with the theme of Your Inspiration. It is no secret that a Great Blue Heron is my muse and an inspiration. The poet William Stafford wrote an exquisite poem about muses, “When I Met My Muse.” My reading of that poem is that our muse lives inside each of us. For me, the muse is the Great Blue Heron within. As Stafford wrote

“. . . I am your own
way of looking at things,” she said. “When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation.” And I took her hand.

When I Met My Muse [excerpt]
Poem by William Stafford
Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems of William Stafford

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 160: Inspiration .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 160: Inspiration .
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From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 160: Inspiration .

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From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 160: Inspiration .
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Thanks to Cee for her CFFC: Blue.

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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.

2015 (May), 2016 (March and July), 2018 (May, June, July), 2019 (December), 2020 (January) several one-woman photography shows at TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
.
2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
.
2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary
.

From December 4 through January 28, 2020, my Great Blue Heron photographs were 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.

Many of the photos in the exhibit were shown for the first time, and do not appear on the blog. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.
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Thanks to Erica V and WordPress for the recent WPC: Place in the World. My favorite place is where the Herons are, of course it is. And the Herons? Their place is near the water, but also on the gallery walls and my blog. How else can I share them with you?

Thanks also to Ben H and WordPress for their WPC Challenge: Liquid. The Herons are drawn to water, as am I.
.

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, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick
Read the rest of this entry

Red Tail Hawks Saturday Night Bath

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

Two Red Tailed Hawks – babsjeheron

What, you were maybe expecting Great Blue Herons today?
It’s Saturday night bath time!

Rounding the corner coming out of the channel, a flash of movement to the left caught my eye. Raising binoculars, I discovered it wasn’t the Canada Goose I had expected to see. It was a Red Tailed Hawk about to launch in to the lake for a cooling bath. Thrilling. Only once before – years ago – had I seen a Hawk bathing, and here, at nearly the same spot along the shore, was another.

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

Two Red Tailed Hawks Bathing – babsjeheron

Just as I swung my camera into position, another flash of feathers. Two. There were TWO Red Tailed Hawks splashing into the lake together, bathing together while cacophonous Blue Jays and Grackles pestered from branches above.

Compare the mood of the two Red Tailed Hawks in the top photo with that in the left photo. Do you see the change, from excited animation when first landing in the water to affectionate nuzzling, as the hawks bathe together side-by-side, touching their beaks.

Hawks are very territorial, and this pair owns that piece of shoreline, although the Blue Jays who also nest in the thick stand of trees would beg to differ. The Hawks bathed in silence, seemingly oblivious to the raucous chattering from the Jays that flitted from branch to branch above them. My practice is to keep hidden from the wildlife I photograph, and if the Hawks were aware of me, they didn’t let on.

Two Red Tail Hawks Bathtime fanned tail – babsjeheron

The pair frolicked close to the shore there, dunking underneath a few times, then surfacing and shaking off the water droplets from time to time. They remained very close together the entire time, almost constantly touching. It was July, which is not traditionally mating season for Red Tails here, and son heir closeness surprised me. At one point their dance involved fanning out the beautiful red tails in display.

Red Tail Hawk Bathtime – babsjeheron

For a finale, they both ducked their heads below the surface and pointed tails skyward. They reminded me of synchronized swimmers. I have never seen wild birds so closely match their movements, as though engaged in a perfectly choreographed ballet.

Red Tail Hawk After Bathtime – babsjeheron

At the end, the male Hawk flew up into the trees and spent a long time there, preening and fluffing out and drying his feathers. The female remained in the water for a little while longer before she, too, flew off to get dry.

I paddled on back to the boathouse a very satisfied photographer. It had been an amazing day.

And do you remember back at the top of this post I had mentioned seeing another bathing Hawk in that same area of the shore? Pictured below is that young Hawk. He is an immature Red Tail who doesn’t yet have the red feathers. They turn red at around three years of age.

Young Hawk after bath – babsjeheron

Encountering the immature Hawk taking a bath happened in a way eerily similar to chancing upon the two Hawks bathing years later and only a few yards farther down the shore. My kayak rounded the corner coming out of the channel, and a burst of movement to the left caught my eye. Raising binoculars, I discovered it wasn’t a Canada Goose at all. It was a Red Tailed Hawk splashing about in the water! I didn’t know Hawks did that and I was thrilled to see it.

Below ks a photo sequence of the young Hawk’s bath. He bathed for many minutes while I was watching from a hidden spot. It was lovely to see such an endearing young bird enjoying the water. I felt very lucky to have been present.

Hawk bathing sequence - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Young Hawk bathing sequence – babsjeheron

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Not to derail my own post, for folks who have been following my attempt to find the exact age of our beautiful keyhole tunnel, I’m still getting a runaround, bouncing from historical society to historical society. However I did learn more about our gorgeous Echo Bridge, shown in this antique postcard. That is not me in the canoe.

Echo Bridge Postcard

Obligatory Great Blue Heron photograph:

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

Great blue heron foraging in the rain.

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Thanks to Debbie for her Six Word Saturday . This post title has the requisite six words!
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The always-inspiring Lens Artists Tina, Patti, Amy, and Leya are still taking a much-deserved and much-needed break for the month of July. This week’s challenge focuses on the topic of Postcards. Ana Campo from her blog Anvica’s Gallery is the host this week. I included an antique postcard of Echo Bridge today.

Thanks to Ana for her Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 159: Postcards . She has some lovely photos for this challenge at her link, check them out.
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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.

2015 (May), 2016 (March and July), 2018 (May, June, July), 2019 (December), 2020 (January) several one-woman photography shows at TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
.
2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
.
2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary
.

From December 4 through January 28, 2020, my Great Blue Heron photographs were 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.

Many of the photos in the exhibit were shown for the first time, and do not appear on the blog. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.
.

.
Thanks to Erica V and WordPress for the recent WPC: Place in the World. My favorite place is where the Herons are, of course it is. And the Herons? Their place is near the water, but also on the gallery walls and my blog. How else can I share them with you?

Thanks also to Ben H and WordPress for their WPC Challenge: Liquid. The Herons are drawn to water, as am I.
.

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, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick, Red Tail Hawk
Read the rest of this entry

Great Blue Herons Guest…Philosopher? (Thoreau on Walden Pond)

Walden Pond reflection - New Year's Eve.

Walden Pond reflection – babsjeheron

…nature is one and continuous everywhere.

Henry David Thoreau
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers / Walden; Or, Life in the Woods / The Maine Woods / Cape Cod 

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

Thoreau contemplating snow in front of his cabin at Walden Pond – babsjeheron

Walden Pond is a grounded space, a grounding place that I like to revisit around the start of each new year, and my intention one New Year’s Eve was a solitary sojourn. It was sublime that day, wandering the pond’s shoreline in solitude.

I was alone there save for Henry David Thoreau standing next to his small cabin. Someone earlier had placed a carved piece of snow in his hand, and it was amusing to see Thoreau staring at it intently, as if contemplating snow. It was a perfect, light-hearted grace note.

And did Henry David Thoreau ever conjure up a snowman to keep him company at Walden Pond when in a whimsical mood one day?

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

Snowpilgrim at Walden Pond in the waning light – babsjeheron

Perhaps, perhaps not, but someone else did.

This snowpilgrim sat perfectly still like that for hours while I wandered around. I believe she was meditating.

She had melted a little from the traditional configuration. Or maybe I’m mistaken and it never was stacked with three large balls of snow like a classical snowman at all. After all, Thoreau wasn’t much of a traditionalist. So perhaps it always was in this pose, gazing out over the waters, thinking mysterious things?

The setting sun cast wintry golden light through the trees on the far shore, reflecting the sky and horizon on the softly frozen water. I had Walden Pond all to myself then – except for that sculpted snowperson watching over the shore and Henry David Thoreau contemplating snow.
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What about the Great Blue Herons you usually see in my blog? Where would Thoreau stand on Herons? I’ll let Ralph Waldo Emerson respond:

“…Our naturalist had perfect magnanimity; he had no secrets; he would carry you to the heron’s haunt, or even to his most prized botanical swamp, — possibly knowing that you could never find it again, yet willing to take his risks. ”

Excerpted from
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Eulogy of Henry David Thoreau, May 9, 1862, Atlantic Monthly, 1862

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Obligatory Great Blue Heron photograph:

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

Young Great Blue Heron in Molt – babsjeheron

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Thanks to Cee for her CMMC Challenge: July. I chose tan as the topic from her photo. Thoreau’s cabin had tan siding.
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Thanks to Nancy Merrill for her A Photo a Week Challenge: Reflection. Two images in my post show reflections on Walden Pond.
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The always-inspiring Lens Artists Tina, Patti, Amy, and Leya are still taking a much-deserved and much-needed break for the month of July. This week’s challenge focuses on the topic Along Back Country Roads. Beth Smith from her blog Wandering Dawgs is the host this week. There are a couple of different ways to get to Walden Pond. my favorite is the back road way.

Thanks to Beth for her Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 158: Along Back Country Roads . There are a couple of different ways to get to Walden Pond. my favorite is the back road way. To learn more about the Walden Pond Visitor Center CLICK HERE.
.

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.

2015 (May), 2016 (March and July), 2018 (May, June, July), 2019 (December), 2020 (January) several one-woman photography shows at TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
.
2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
.
2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary
.

From December 4 through January 28, 2020, my Great Blue Heron photographs were 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.

Many of the photos in the exhibit were shown for the first time, and do not appear on the blog. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.
.

.
Thanks to Erica V and WordPress for the recent WPC: Place in the World. My favorite place is where the Herons are, of course it is. And the Herons? Their place is near the water, but also on the gallery walls and my blog. How else can I share them with you?

Thanks also to Ben H and WordPress for their WPC Challenge: Liquid. The Herons are drawn to water, as am I.
.

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, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick, Walden, Thoreau
Read the rest of this entry

Beautiful Great Blue Heron in Motion Blur

Great blue heron soaring above the cove.

Great Blue Heron soaring above the cove – babsjeheron

One moment the Great Blue Heron was a high-speed blur headed right towards me and the next, directly overhead – a streak of grey feathers against lush thick leaves.

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I didn’t see the Great Blue Heron until he was almost upon me, speeding west towards the channel as I paddled the kayak east, deeper into the cove. One moment he was a high-speed blur headed right towards me and the next, directly overhead – a streak of grey feathers against lush thick leaves. So close!

All I could do was aim the camera and pan.

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

I only got off one frame during that encounter, the photo in this post. No time for bracketing.

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

What a day it was at the lake with the Heron. I love it when surprise encounters happen.

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The amazing Lens Artists Tina, Patti, Amy, and Leya are taking a much-deserved and much-needed break for the month of July. This week’s challenge focuses on the topic On The Water. John Steiner is the host this week. My photo today took place during an exciting and fun encounter on the water.

Check out John’s beautiful water photos here: Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 155: On the Water .

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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.

2015 (May), 2016 (March and July), 2018 (May, June, July), 2019 (December), 2020 (January) several one-woman photography shows at TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
.
2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
.
2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary
.

From December 4 through January 28, 2020, my Great Blue Heron photographs were 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.

Many of the photos in the exhibit were shown for the first time, and do not appear on the blog. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.
.

.
Thanks to Erica V and WordPress for the recent WPC: Place in the World. My favorite place is where the Herons are, of course it is. And the Herons? Their place is near the water, but also on the gallery walls and my blog. How else can I share them with you?

Thanks also to Ben H and WordPress for their WPC Challenge: Liquid. The Herons are drawn to water, as am I.
.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

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

Beautiful Great Blue Heron: The One that Didn’t Get Away

Great blue heron lands a large fish.

If birds can feel joy, this smiling Great Blue Heron certainly must be joyful in this moment – babsjeheron

If you smile at me I will understand,
‘Cause that is something everybody everywhere does in the same language.

David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Paul Kantner
Wooden Ships
Crosby, Stills & Nash

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He wasn’t one of the regulars, the usual happy fishermen and boys who gather on the sloping tunnel sides. The Great Blue Heron always gave those other fishermen a wide berth, but this man was different. He was using bait – big-looking silvery bait – and his fishing gear was ample and good.

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I nosed the kayak smoothly, silently into the middle cove, when suddenly, a flash of blue-grey to my left – the female Great Blue Heron swooped onto the western shore.

I watched her foraging from a respectful distance, not wanting to get too close lest my presence scare her off, anxious about the solo fisherman casting into the cove from his perch along the tunnel overpass.

I felt unease for the heron, but she continued prodding the mud in her corner of the shore, occasionally venturing out into deeper waters, stalking what was beneath the surface there, dallying until her interest waned or until the prey moved on.

So it went for 15 minutes or so…

And then she made her move, and strode purposefully north, until she reached the tunnel.

And the lone fisherman.

I followed behind her, 10 feet back, out of her line of sight, parallel to the shore.

In the past when she reached the tunnel, she would  rise from the water on strong wings, and cross the channel, clearing it and going fully beyond in 3 loping wingstrokes.

Each time I was there, I raised my camera to catch her mid-stroke, framed by the tunnel entrance, and this day was no different.

I got into position, focused across to where I knew her flight path to be, and waited.

… In vain, once more.

This time, she landed short of her usual place on the north shore.

She landed directly in front of the fisherman, directly in the path of his perilous casts!

I hovered on the left bank, alarmed.

Would he hook her?

Would he accidentally wrap his filament around her throat?

Would she chase after his cast and take his bait fish, swallowing hook, line, and sinker?

I paddled cross the channel and struck up my usual fisherman’s conversation with him, edging closer in to be able to rescue the heron from his line.

He settled back into the rhythm of his fishing.

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

I settled in to squeeze off photos here and there.

We established a routine, the three of us – me in the middle, 5 feet from him, heron only 4 feet beyond me.

At least, I thought, I could rescue heron if he snagged her or if she bit down onto a hook.

And then I heard it.

Tweeee-eeee-eeet, a wavering whistle.

He was whistling to Heron!

She perked up!

And he tossed a small silvery fish her way.

She lunged and swallowed in one exquisite movement!

And so it went for the next half-hour, he would cast out, and sometimes she followed his lure, sometimes not.

Every 4th or 5th cast, he’d toss a silvery prize her way. She always took his treat and was eager for more…so eager she moved in closer and closer to him, and to me.

Too close for any good camera shots.

What should have been too close for her comfort.

Great blue heron lands a large fish - detail.

Head-shot detail – babsjeheron

As you can see from the photos here, no harm came to the Great Blue Heron that day. The final prize the fisherman tossed to her that day was this huge pike.
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I love a happy ending.

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Thanks to Cee for her CFFC: Water Found in Nature. Today’s post has water found in nature. Plus a Heron!
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This week’s Lens Artist challenge from the amazing artists Tina and Patti, Amy, and Leya, focuses on our One Photo Two Ways. My example is the full frame photo and then a crop. Readers of this blog know I’m both fine art photographer and nature photographer, but I’m also a photojournalist, a stringer for a national newspaper syndicate. The rules are vastly different for fine art and photojournalism. In journalism, no editing is permitted, not even a single pixel can be adjusted, and often times even cropping is not allowed. For fine art, sometimes it seems the opposite is expected – what makes it ‘Art’ is the artist-photographer’s manipulation of the image. The full frame photo at top is entitrly unretouched. You see it exactly as it came straight out of the camera.

Check out the Lens Artists’ beautiful photos here:

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 154: One Photo Two Ways .
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From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 154: One Photo Two Ways .

From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 154: One Photo Two Ways .

From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 154: One Photo Two Ways .

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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.

2015 (May), 2016 (March and July), 2018 (May, June, July), 2019 (December), 2020 (January) several one-woman photography shows at TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
.
2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
.
2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
,
2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary
.

From December 4 through January 28, 2020, my Great Blue Heron photographs were 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.

Many of the photos in the exhibit were shown for the first time, and do not appear on the blog. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.
.

.
Thanks to Erica V and WordPress for the recent WPC: Place in the World. My favorite place is where the Herons are, of course it is. And the Herons? Their place is near the water, but also on the gallery walls and my blog. How else can I share them with you?

Thanks also to Ben H and WordPress for their WPC Challenge: Liquid. The Herons are drawn to water, as am I.
.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

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

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

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