An exhibition of photos by William Burt of Old Lyme titled, “Water Babies – The Hidden Lives of Baby Wetland Birds,” is on show at the Connecticut River Museum through Oct. 12, at the Connecticut River Museum. This is the fourth of William Burt’s photo exhibitions, each based on one of his books, to show at the Museum.
The exhibition features 40 framed archival pigment prints, all made by the photographer, and 18 text panels quoting passages from the book of the same name. The pieces are sequenced such that every “water baby” is juxtaposed with the adult bird it becomes.
For 40 years, photographer William Burt has chased after the birds few people see: first rails, then bitterns, nightjars, and other skulkers – and now these, elusive creatures of a very different kind: the Water Babies. They are the subjects of his coming book, and also this exhibition at the Connecticut River Museum in Essex. The book will be published in October 2015 by W. W. Norton/Countryman.
The “babies” are the downy young of ducks, grebes, gallinules and shorebirds, herons, and other wetland birds – those that get their feet wet, as it were – and challenging they are, to birder and photographer alike: quick-footed, wary, and well-camouflaged, to say the least; and temporary.
You have only a week or two each year in which to find them. But above all else, they are endearing. From the comic-monster herons to the fuzzy ducklings and stick-legged sandpipers, these tots have personality, and spunk. You see it in their faces, each and every one.
To find these youngsters and adults, Burt prowled their wetland breeding grounds each spring and summer for some seven years, all over North America, from the Arctic Circle to the Gulf of Mexico. The result is a portrait of these wild birds of the wetlands as both young and old, unknown and known, new and familiar.
Burt is a naturalist, writer, and photographer with a passion for wild places and elusive birds – especially marshes, and the shy birds within. His feature stories are seen in Smithsonian, Audubon, National Wildlife, and other magazines, and he has written three previous books: Shadowbirds (1994); Rare & Elusive Birds of North America (2001); and Marshes: The Disappearing Edens (2007).
Burt’s photo exhibitions have been shown at some 35 museums across the U.S. and Canada. He lives in Old Lyme, Conn.
For more information on this and other museum programs, visit www.ctrivermuseum.org.
The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main St., Essex and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 860-767-8269 or visit www.ctrivermuseum.org.