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Weekly Photo Challenge: On The Way

“May flowers always line your path and sunshine light your day. May songbirds serenade you every step along the way.”

Irish Blessing

(16 Photos)

FULL HOUSE
FULL HOUSE

This week Michelle has challenged us to illustrate “On the Way”.  I’ve chosen to highlight an incredible experience I had last week photographing some baby birds “on the way” to adulthood.  I observed literally hundreds of wading birds in a rookery they’d created in the center of a long narrow pond – herons, egrets, cormorants – dozens of interesting species cohabiting peacefully at every stage from egg through adult.

SNUGGLED SIBLINGS
SNUGGLED SIBLINGS

“A bird is safe in its nest – but that is not what its wings are made for.”

Amit Ray

A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW
A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW
As I wandered about poking through the bushes lining the sides of the ponds I was amazed at the number of nests, their proximity to the ground and water below, and the skittishness of the bird parents who clearly were neither accustomed to nor happy about human intervention. The baby birds, on the other hand, were much less bothered by my appearance and depending on their age, were either curious or protective of their nest-mates.
FUZZY FELLA
FUZZY FEATHERED FELLA
“I want to be a bird that is not afraid of falling since it’s been flying for so long.”
Iva Marija Bulic
BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING
BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING
Interestingly, I recently learned that baby birds are born with an “egg tooth” which can be seen clearly on the chicks above. According to Wikipedia “Since the beak and the claws of a bird are not fully developed and cannot penetrate the eggshell, the ‘egg tooth’ is the unusual structure that helps the bird break through the shell. It is only found in emerging chicks and lost soon after hatching.”
WAITING FOR COMPANY
FIRST OF FIVE
 “I would like to paint the way a bird sings.”  
Claude Monet
I  saw some comical bird “antics” while learning firsthand that young birds leave the nest and make their way through the branches of a tree by using their beaks as well as their feet to hang on, since their wings are not strong enough to hold them. Sadly I saw a baby bird that had fallen out of the nest and was unable to get back from the ground, and another that ended up in the water where it was unable to swim back to safe ground.
SEEING DOUBLE
SEEING DOUBLE

“A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

Chinese Proverb

The two beautiful egrets above look nearly full-grown but are actually still too young to fly and hopped from branch to branch using their strong claws and long yellow beaks to steady themselves. I found myself wondering if they are actually as identical as they seemed to me, or if to another bird they might look totally and distinctly different 😀. Another example of “identical” siblings:

ON ALERT
ON ALERT

“Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.”

Salvador Dali

I found myself wondering what the young chick below had just tasted that clearly was not to his/her liking! Perhaps regurgitated fish isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? Do wading birds eat worms? Insects? Frogs? I’m thinking his obvious displeasure could have any number of sources when judged by human taste buds!

AAAACK!!!
AAAACK!!!

“God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages.”

Jacques Deval

Next, a little family that was working hard to climb out of the nest but unwilling to travel very far and clearly nervous about their first foray into the world beyond. It’s a literal depiction of the term “out on a limb” because a fall to the ground or water below means certain death at this age – there is clearly no way back.

OUT ON A LIMB
OUT ON A LIMB

 “I hope you love birds too. It’s economical. It saves going to heaven.”

Emily Dickinson

The most adventurous (and probably oldest) of the siblings seemed to think that keeping his head in the leaves made him invisible but my lens caught him just before the leaves did!

BIGFOOT
BIGFOOT

 “The reason birds can fly and we can’t is simply because they have perfect faith,  for to have faith is to have wings.”  

J.M. Barrie

WILD AND CRAZY
WILD AND CRAZY GUY

“No matter wings so small, keep vision bright; just dare to learn, for you are born to fly.”

Vikrmn

Lest I leave you with the impression that only the baby birds were interesting (although they truly were spectacular), I shall close with a few shots of some of the magnificent adult birds that surrounded them. Hardworking parents every one of them, each possessing their own unique beauty.

ANGEL WINGS
ANGEL-WINGED EGRETS
CARROT TOP CATTLE EGRET
CARROT TOP CATTLE EGRET
PERCHED
PERCHED
MULTIPLE UNIT DWELLING
MULTIPLE UNIT DWELLING

“Not every winged Creature is considered a bird or a bat. Some wings are made of magic.”

Raani York

Seems to me we could learn a bit from our avian counterparts, who seem quite able to live together in harmony, sharing the resources that are available to them all.  Perhaps we’ve lost a bit of common sense on our way to the top of the evolutionary ladder.

My real challenge this week was holding back from posting even more photos, as my experience that day was so rewarding. Thanks for sticking with me this far, and  if you still have time, pop over here to see some other challenge responses to “on the way”.

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142 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: On The Way Leave a comment

  1. These are so amazing…. I crack up every time i see that fuzzy fella.
    And carrot top! how cute!
    Who knew about the egg tooth?? I see something neat from your posts every time….
    Thanks for sharing the fab photos and words.
    d

  2. Never imagined photographing young birds! Must have been quite a challenge. Love these pictures, in particular – the wild & crazy guy! totally my kinda guy 🙂

    • Thanks Tricia – my favorite too 🙂 I used my Nikon 70-200 lens which is really very special. Honestly I was so close to the chicks there were several times I had to back off in order to be able to focus!

  3. OUTSTANDING shots…..so adorable!!! We otherwise would had never been able to see these little darlings close up….THANK U!! 😍

  4. YOu’ve outdone yourself with this one! I’m amazed you were able or allowed to get so close to the birds on an Island, or do you have a super long lens?

    • Hi Bunty, and thanks! No, I was using my Nikon 70-200 and in fact had to back off several times because I was too close to focus. It’s a natural rookery on the private property of a friend’s family so the birds are just going about their business and couldn’t care less about me and my camera. Way too much other fun stuff going on around them!!

      • I just looked at your ‘vivid’ post (I’m way behind…) which is equally delightful. Given how close you say you were for bith visits I’m amazed the parents didn’t dive bomb you or otherwise try to drive you away.

  5. You are blessed – to enjoy this bounty of Nature and above all share it with all of us, around the world. We see, hear and learn through your eyes ( and the camera). Thank you very much.

  6. That’s a wonderful collection of photos, and a study on growing chicks. They look so vulnerable and scrawny until their they start losing their ‘baby’ down, and how their appearance changes once their feathers come.

    • Thanks Liz – yes, it’s pretty amazing isn’t it. I was especially amazed by the difference in the chicks in just one week’s time! They are adorable as babies and majestic as adults. One wonders how the heck they figure out flight and fishing so quickly!

  7. What amazing pictures! Reading your weekly take on the photo challenge is always something I look forward to Tina!

  8. They are smarter cause they are closer to nature, and we are arrogant and stupid. These shots are fun, so detailed. As much as I love all animals I have to admit that these youngsters have a bit of a sinister look on their face, but I love them in spite or cause of it.

    • I agree with you Paula, and in fact I didn’t post the most threatening looking ones for that very reason!! Some are cute, some are placid, some are pissed and some seem almost to be smiling – just like the idiot humans around them!!! They must have really wondered what the heck we were doing and why we found them so interesting!

  9. Tina! What an incredible experience!
    I enjoyed hearing your excitement and the images you shared are just wonderful!
    All of them! but there’s just something about that Carrot Top Cattle Egret …

    • Yep, with you 100% (along with several others) on the carrot top – he’s quite a beauty isn’t he? Nice of him to pose so quietly for me. And yes, my excitement was out of bounds!

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