Contemplative Photography & Reflections

Great Blue Heron: Patient Hunter

“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate, and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.”

-Paulo Coelho

The Great Blue Heron is one of my favorite river personalities.


Sometimes we play hide and seek the whole time I’m paddling up and back down the river. Of course, the heron is the one who hides (sometimes on the ground, sometimes up in a tree), and I seek. I swear that bird can make himself invisible. Although I watch closely to see where he lands and then keep that location in sight, I’m often surprised to hear him squawk suddenly when I get closer than I realize. He then rises into the air, beating his great wings slowly as he looks for the next perfect spot to touch down along the riverbank – a place where he may hunt in solitude.

The heron possesses a keen sense of boundaries and is sensitive to even the smallest activity and movement around him. But when I am absorbed in meditative exploration of the water lilies and he squawks while cruising past me, it is ever so tempting to believe he is inviting me to join in another round of hide and seek. And sometimes I can’t resist.

The Great Blue Heron is a majestic sight, standing alone and motionless as a statue for long periods of time with highly focused awareness. A solitary hunter, this bird impresses me with its independence, self-reliance, and ability to wait. When I find myself feeling impatient or overly influenced by others, I call upon the image of my friend, the heron, who reminds me to give full and complete attention to the present moment as a means for reaching my goals.

Although the heron normally maintains a certain distance, on one occasion he allowed me to get closer and really experience his essence. I was paddling across the river to the lily pads and didn’t realize until I was a few yards away that the heron was there. I’m not sure why I was permitted so close that morning, but I seized the opportunity to get a few closeup shots and soak up the energy.

There is a small island in the middle of the river by our house with a peculiar wooden statue crafted by the hands of nature. Its resemblance to a heron is uncanny, and I often mistake it for such at first glance.


How interesting that the heron likes to stand next to it. The statue gives off a certain energy, a totem quality. It is a place to connect with heron energy. I think of it as a heron shrine.

Heron flying to the special spot on the island

One of my favorite heron memories thus far is when I was paddling on the other side of the river and saw the heron rise suddenly and hover, flapping his wings above some tree branches. He repeated this several times, retreating to the tree ever so briefly in between. From across the river, it looked like the bird was waving hello – before dive-bombing down to the river with a splash and then rising back up. The sight was rather amusing and made me wonder if he was victorious after all that. However, that’s the heron: He doesn’t care what anyone thinks about him. And I really admire that.

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© Susan Meyer and River Bliss, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all photos, without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss ( with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

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