In these virus-sensitive times I hasten to say that I’m not sneezing. I’m wondering whether I’m seeing an avian version of this Eastern massage therapy.

This ancient practice
— which involves a massage therapist literally walking on your back —
has been performed by Buddhist monks for centuries
and is now available in various forms across America.
Massage Therapy

Ashiatsu certainly seems to be available at this rookery in St. Augustine.

Great egrets, mating

Ha ha ha, eh? Isabel, don’t be silly.

Getting photographs of birds mating requires luck and quick reflexes: They often hide in the weeds (er, branches), and they’re speed demons. So when I got decent shots of these particularly spectacular birds, I was almost pleased enough to overlook that I didn’t get the exposure quite right: The white lacks details in many places. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that while I couldn’t overlook it, I was still pleased.

I also continue to be amazed at how beautiful these birds are. In the photo below, note, too, that the little missus is standing on one leg. Clearly she has no challenges with balance.

Great egrets mating

Even the dismounts and the after-action interaction can be spectacular.

Great egrets, mating

Great egrets, mating


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12 Responses to Ashiatsu?

  1. Jim Robertson says:

    Beautiful Isabel! Well worth the stop in St Augustine.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – Many thanks. It’s always lovely, and the other photographers are interesting too (mostly in a good way).

  2. Tom Watson says:

    Wow! Great photo shots, Isabel.

    And…until I read this, I had never heard the word “ashiatsu” before. My learnin’ for today.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – Maybe you’d even like to try it . . . 🙂 Me, I’m not inclined to let anyone stand anywhere on me, much less on my back.

      • Tom Watson says:

        Son-in-law Derek used to have his daughter Kennedy walk on his back when she was younger. I haven’t seen it lately.

        Personally, I haven’t had that…but I think the crunches the chiropractor does are a heavy-duty substitute.

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          Tom – Yeah, I’ve seen men let their toddlers walk on their stomachs. I haven’t tried that – maybe because my toddlers topped 30 pounds. Each.

  3. Marilyn Smith says:

    Beautiful photos! Such a gorgeous white! I noticed in the top photo that the male’s knees, so to speak, bend inward — are these birds double jointed perhaps? Also, it does seem that the female is holding her posture with both spindles in the second photo. But the last one is magnificent! Such motion! Such grace! Such joy! I would love to have one of those feathers!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Marilyn – Good eye! This article explains it well: the actual knee is hidden (or close to it) in the body – what looks like the knee is their ankle joint. I think the feathers might be prone to mites, but they’re beautiful for sure.

  4. Each image is more glorious than the one before it. How refreshing to search for adjectives of wonder and delight in these troubling times! I cannot think of a better antidote for the rampant bad news.

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