Spending time with my family is always an adventure. My parents took us all over the country by car when we were growing up. We were constantly exploring new places, and always finding new things to see. This Mother's Day my family all gathered at my parents house and after a relaxing meal (which the men prepared!) we set out on a hike.
This was our destination. See those dark spots in the trees?
Here's a close-up for a better view - what you're looking at is a group of nesting Great Blue Herons, also called a rookery.
To get close enough to the nests and get some good shots of the birds we had to climb down the embankment near this bridge and into the river valley.
We enjoyed the peaceful view of the river, and I wondered why I had never taken the time to explore this area by foot while I was growing up. It probably has something to do with the fact that I was in middle school when my parents moved to their current home, and by that time I was much more interested in spending time with friends than I was with exploring my surroundings.
We paused here to show the kids this clump of debris in the trees. Indiana had recently had some pretty severe flooding, and my mom is showing the kids how high the water was in the river valley. I think its the highest I've ever seen!
We also had an opportunity to have 3 deer join us in the valley. As we were climbing down into the valley they were just coming out of the woods to graze. They tolerated us for a while, but when they saw us moving along the river bed trying to get closer to the rookery they took off for the trees.
After walking along the river for a while, trying to keep all the kiddos quiet, we finally got close enough where we could see the nests. At first we were wondering if any Herons were present at all, but we didn't have to wait long. One of the benefits of having the noisy kids along with us is that they stirred the resting Herons to action!
It was simply amazing watching them gracefully flying and then landing with their impossibly long legs on branches that didn't seem like they would be able to support them, listening to their different calls, and trying (in vain, unfortunately) to catch a glimpse of the babies. I am hoping to get an opportunity to go back on my own in the next few weeks to see if I can get some photos of the baby birds.
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