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”.

142 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: On The Way

  1. These are fabulous! Such wonderful captures! I have a few favorites – but I think “Perched” is the favorite favorite! The Egret is such a stunning bird! Beautiful!

  2. Amazing set of photos, Tina. Brilliantly captured. I had to smile at the one where the bird ate something that it didn’t like…it looked like it was about to throw up 😀 Love the quote by Raani York – some wings are made of magic. Perhaps that is true…fascinating how strong wings are, carrying birds from one end of the world to the other at times 🙂

    • Thanks Mabel – actually I DID observe several chicks throwing up but thought I’d just keep that to myself 😄. Yes, I loved that Raani York quote too. We have birds called Red Knots here who pause in their migration from Antarctica. They literally change their physical composition for the journey. It’s amazing really. Appreciate your stopping by.

  3. Love these glimpses inside. When we lived in the area, I always looked forward to this time of year. Thanks for keeping me in-the-loop, and with experiences and images I had only hoped for.

  4. What a wonderful collection of images & lovely choice of quotes. I guess the idea of flight has been inspirational for many writers. I’m glad you shared the pics of adults because I’ve never seen a carrot top & it’s a great pic.

  5. Yes, maybe we have lost common sense, and forget that there is enough resources for all, if we are respectful of our environment — and each other.

    These photos warmed my heart, and I can imagine how it must have been difficult to keep the gallery this size. I love the eyes, and how interesting to learn of the egg tooth! Never knew that…

    • Thanks for stopping by Lola Jane and for your lovely comment. The photos from this shoot and my subsequent second visit to the rookery will sustain me for a long time to come!!

  6. Indeed, birds have a unique beauty!
    Thank you Tina~ you capture them so
    excellently! All the Quotations match perfectly😍, endearing too! Love this entry
    so much💞

  7. What a wonderful opportunity — just to experience all the different stages of growth as well as capture by photos. Survival of the fittest for sure when it comes to exploring outside the nest — not a lot of room for error! Those little eyes peering at you from the nest are so intense. I would have had trouble tearing myself away from the trail!

    • Oh I did indeed have to tear myself away Kat! As you’ll see, I actually went back a second time for this week’s post. As you may have noticed in previous posts, I am NOT a morning person but was up at dawn for both of these shoots, and drove an hour each way to get there. Not my norm but well worth the extra effort. Quite an experience

  8. Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos and story of your amazing experience Tina. Stuck with you all the way and would happily have had more. Have a great week 🙂

  9. As always Tina – I look forward to your weekly posts. What an amazing experience this must have been. I absolutely love the portrait of the 2 birds against the blue sky – stunning!!

  10. A lovely long post, it could have gone on forever, Tina. So many gorgeous captures of the precious little ones. Countless times I thought, this is the best, nothing beats this one! – and a little further down even more incredible shots appeared. This is the best take on the challenge I have seen, well done!

  11. So wonderful! The “ayes” have it! You captured the eyes so wonderfully -so expressive for baby birds! Was this the rookery at SI? Amazing shots and perfect quotes!

    • Thanks so much Mary Lynn – appreciate your visit! Not SI, these little ones are out at a farm in Wadmalaw. The rookery is huge and the birds are literally everywhere!!

  12. Oh, Tina! I loved absolutely everything (everything!) about this post. Those babies–so fuzzy! This was amazing. You were so fortunate to be able to get as close as you were. The photos are beautiful.

  13. Enjoyed your take on being “on the way.” I have some friends who are birders and they have encouraged me to take more photos of birds. It’s not as easy as landscapes… generally it’s been my experience that landscapes don’t fly away when you try to approach them. 🙂

    • LOL, no you got that right, landscapes are a bit less mobile. However they often require a bit more creativity to get the most out of them! Thanks for stopping by John.

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