Saturday, August 23, 2008

The herons have gone

I've named it Sydney.  Sydney was in my favorite tree, to the left of the tennis court path at Stanley Park (Vancouver, BC), gazing toward the open sky, as if to say, "Is anyone coming for me?"  The light was poor, but I felt it was the end of the heron-watching season, so with my 18-zoom Lumix, I snapped this so-so image using the auto-intelligence mode.  Some day, I've promised myself to read the manual.

It's an addiction, watching herons.  Two summers ago, the first view of open wings caught and held me.  Maybe, we all dream of flight at some point in our lives.  I don't know.  All I do know is that the power and beauty in the wings just about takes my breath away.  My best picture from that summer was taken with a 10X-zoom Lumix, and again, with the "for dummies" mode.

My "Best Blue Heron" from Summer 2006
Last summer, I moved over to North Vancouver, and lost touch with the herons.  Instead, I discovered a pair of bald eagles, and watched them and their one offspring almost every day.  I snapped at every opportunity, but they were just too high up in the tree to get much of a view. Still, watching the juvenile in one of its first flights made my summer.  More about bald eagles in another entry.

This has been the best bird summer ever.  I moved back to this side of the water, and was drawn once more to Stanley Park.  After a few weeks of biking to the heronry and craning my neck in nonstop circles, I had to find a better way to take photos. I finally settled near the end of the season on one tree.  Two juveniles were in a nest close to the edge of the branch on the right side of the tree.  I named them Stanley (usually to the right and much more active) and Sue (generally waiting to Stanley's left).  Stanley was spending a fair bit of time flapping his wings in preparation for flight.  He was my easiest subject, but Sue gave me a few photo ops too.  There was also a third heron in a nest on the left side of the tree.  That's Sydney, the one you see at the beginning of this blog.  The branch with the little clump sticking out at the end was my Stanley and Sue locator.

 Stanley, having a bit of a bad hair day.
There doesn't seem to be much size difference between juveniles and adults at this stage, so it's difficult to identify what's happening in the next picture

Stanley, on the left, demanding food from the parent.
Or, are Stanley and Sue fighting?

A rare shot from another tree, so no name for this beauty.

I tried for hours to catch an adult (the male and females take an equal role in looking after their kids) flying in for home duty.  It was unbelievably frustrating.  I would stare off into the sky, just like the kids, wondering when Mom or Pop would arrive.  It was a given that the moment I took a few seconds to massage my aching neck, I'd feel a shadow overhead and know that I'd missed my chance again.  I never did get a satisfactory photo.  Even on the days when I saw the adult flying in from quite a distance, I couldn't seem to get it centered in my viewfinder.  The photo below was the best I was able to manage all summer.  I sure hope the herons will give me another chance next year.  They've been coming to Stanley Park for several years now, so there's always the chance they'll choose another place for 2009.

Either Mom or Pop coming in to feed Stanley and Sue.  
And to confess the full extent of my addiction, these next photos were taken around seven a.m. on the morning I was leaving for a cycling trip on Vancouver Island.  There was, in my inexperienced photographer view, incredible light.  

Stanley, on his personal branch in grey morning light.  

He began to call for food, as the sky cleared.

The light on his wings and legs was magical.

The wings, oh, the wings.

The next time I saw Stanley was after the bike trip.  It had been three days, and I was sure he would be gone, but I was happily wrong.  He was downright funny that morning.

An indignant look, somewhat foiled by the right wing hanging out.

And then the left wing.

Stanley and Sue hanging out together.

Stanley, Sue and Sydney's stories are not quite finished, but I've come to the end of my very first blog entry (ever) for now.  I promise to finish their story soon - maybe even tomorrow.  Can you guess which one of them made a break for ground, and hung around, letting me take pictures for a couple of days, before disappearing forever?  

By the way, I jumped into this blog, without so much as a hello, or a bit about who I am.  The bikesbirds part of the address will give you a hint.  Beasts (think Beauty) refers to all the other loves in my life, two in particular being a little black dog named Black Jack and a beautiful man named Bill.  More about them soon, too.  

Finally, I was inspired, at age 61, to attempt a blog because of an incredible one that I've been following for quite some time.  Check it out.   Her photography, insight and humor give me food for thought as well as stellar entertainment, and a goal to shoot for.

Until the next time.   


  1. Hi Carol!

    What a great blog! Very very impressive photos of the herons. You're super talented!

    I have inspired lots of things in my life - you know, small riots, repulsion in men, stuff like that - so I'm glad to contribute positively to something ;-) Good luck with it all. I see those herons every day and I never photograph them. You've done great!

  2. I agree with the above comments. Would you like me to post a link to your site on my site?

    I am at

    Maybe you've dealt w/ a realtor you can rate?

    Either way, stop by, sign my board at the bottom of my site!


  3. Hey, you gotta start somewhere. And you even managed to get comments on your very first entry! I've been blogging in various places for several years and I still can't seem to cultivate a solid following of readers who comment. I'm jealous already.

    Nice herons, too. We usually have a couple in the marsh, but I don't find myself compelled to watch them.

  4. "The light on his wings and legs was magical"

    Carol, that photo took my breath away. Seriously.

    All the photos and tales have made me look at Heron's in another light!

  5. Wow, I bet it was hard getting a good photo of those Herons. But it looks like you got a lot! Some real nice ones there!