In the distance, I saw this Tricolored Heron in the dark shade. The sun was going down, and I could tell that it would shine on him in a few minutes. I started towards him slowly. Just as I got within camera range, the sun bathed him in warm light.
Male Summer Tanager
I love the way the light exposed the eye and fell on this male Summer Tanager. He had just caught this Yellow Jacket and was sorting out how to eat it. This is my favorite photo ever of this bird.
I was so excited to see my first Common Gallinule (Moorhen)! Unfortunately, she had a dispute with three American Coots and lost, so she was leaving the area at full speed. Counting the intense red eye, I see at least six colors on this beautiful bird.
I've loved the way dappled sunlight falls on the forest floor like the spots on a new fawn since I was a young boy wandering in the woods. This beautiful Chipping Sparrow has a bit of that sunlight on him, and I think it makes him look marvelous.
The White Ibis is a wetland bird that occasionally forages inland. While their black wingtips, pink bill, and pink legs standout, it's their distinctive blue eye that always captivates me.
Sometimes it's not the pretty bird that deserves the spotlight, but the smart one. Crows have been documented making and using tools, and many people have interesting stories of encounters with intelligent crows.
Female Magnolia Warbler
The hard to get shots are birds in the open. This shot of the female Magnolia Warbler is more common, where she is moving quickly but tentatively through the bush looking for insects. I think it's important to document these behaviors in addition to clear profile shots.
Wasp with Caterpillar
I was preparing to do some birding when I heard a plop on the car. This wasp was trying to fly away with a huge caterpillar, but just couldn't manage it. He tried several times before giving up. Hope someone can help id these creepy crawlies.
Sometimes the Red-bellied Woodpecker works his way up the tree and on occasion he works his way down. I was sitting nearby looking for birds when he landed high. I just watched and waited as he circled his way down near eye level.
Male Orchard Oriole
The 1st day I saw this male Orchard Oriole he was gleaning insects in the tops of trees, too far away for a shot. I swung back by the area the next day and accidentally spooked him from some bushes. On the 3rd day, I approached much more slowly and got this shot.
Red-spotted Purple Butterfly
I saw this Red-spotted Purple Butterfly and rushed over to take its photo. As I got closer, I could see it was beaten up, including a broken antenna. It didn't fly away. I was sad that something had tried to get it even though that is nature's way.
Florida Red-shouldered Hawk with Redbelly Snake
I was on a hill above a lake when I saw this Florida Red-Shouldered Hawk in a distant tree. I watched and waited. Suddenly he swooped down to the edge of the water and quickly climbed back out with a Florida redbelly Snake.
We had started on an evening hike when we heard the booming of the Common Nighthawk. It got louder as we got closer. Out of 100+ attempts, I managed this uncommon dorsal view as he banked sharply and incredibly fast in the fading sunlight.
Northern Parula with Green Caterpillar
I watched this beautiful Northern Parula soften up the brilliant green caterpillar. This look let me know he wasn't going to share and then he was on his way. Does anyone have a name for this caterpillar?
Male Scarlet Tanager
This Scarlet Tanager was high in the canopy, obscured by leaves and branches, impossible to capture. Then he descended to a lower limb in pursuit of a bug. He got the bug, and I got the shot, so we were both happy.
American Redstart, male
I was sitting very still at the edge of some woods when this American Redstart came flitting quickly through the branches looking for insects. When I raised the camera to take his photo, he seemed surprised and took off after one shot.
Northern Flicker, yellow-shafted, male
This White-eyed Vireo was calling in shadow where little sunlight penetrated the canopy. I waited until the sun went down a little more and shined through a side opening to get this shot.
Female Purple Martin Saluting the Flag
This is my perennial 4th of July photo. I'll never forget spending hours in the hot sun that day trying to get photos of the Purple Martin in flight. I love this shot as it looks like she is saluting the flag.
When I visit the Smoky Mountains one wildflower I look for is the Wild Geranium. Not cultivated, it's the real deal, which you only find on a random trail. The detail is stunning. It's a signpost that points to my happy place.
Male Northern Cardinal
I was trying to photograph a female Northern Cardinal when her mate showed up and got right in my face with his tail spread. I'm not sure if he was telling me to back off or insisting I photograph him on his best side.
The Pine Warbler is usually found high in the canopy, but since they are a warbler that will eat seeds, they do come down to feed. That's when I was lucky enough to glimpse this handsome male.
This Eastern Kingbird aggressively defends its territory and seemed to think this electrical box was a fitting throne. I love the way his posture exudes confidence, all decked out in his formal attire.
Even though it is common, I watch and photograph the Eurasian Collared-Dove every chance I get. I love its red eye, stylish black and blue collar, and wings of fluffy cloudlike feathers. It's soothing evening cooing has always added a little more peace to the end of my day.
Eastern Coral Snake
When I'm out in nature, I look for many things to shoot even though I often come back with more birds than anything else. One day I ran across this Eastern Coral Snake. Beautiful, but potentially dangerous.
Male Boat-tailed Grackle
I was so grateful when this male Boat-tailed Grackle landed on a post against a clear blue sky. There was nothing to distract from his iridescent black, blue, purple, bronze, whatever colors in the afternoon sun.
Blue-eyed Grass is a tiny but beautiful flower about 1/2 in/12.7 mm across. I love to find it growing wild and always marvel at nature's randomness and beauty.
If you ever need something to brighten your day, go out and find a Common Yellowthroat. This one flew into my life after I had been looking in all the right bushes for hours and coming up short.
Blue Jay with passenger
When I took this Blue Jay's photo I didn't notice anything other than the beautiful blue and black markings. Later I noticed he had a passenger on his head. I'm not sure if it's a parasite or just some bug on a roadtrip.
In the south, some people call a tall and handsome man a "tall drink of water." That might apply to the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, who seems quiet and shy to me, hanging out in treetops and eating large caterpillars. I've only heard their very distinctive call once.
Halloween Pennant Dragonfily
I was so excited to see another Halloween Pennant Dragonfly. I love the intricate wings, tiny hairs, and amazingly detailed head and body parts.
It was al,most dusk along a winding trail. I was watching where I stepped very carefully for snakes and almost missed this Barred Owl. Raptors often sit in trees above trails and wait for something to scurry across where it is easy to see and sometimes catch.
When I saw this Carolina Wren, he was carrying nesting material, singing, hopping around, cocking his head, and rapidly flicking his tail. I think he was looking for his lifemate, and with that audition, you can bet he found her.
Pipevine Swallowtail on Penstemon
This Pipevine Swallowtail is already looking a little battered but reminds me that nature never gives up. She may be broken, but she won't give up. We must do the same.
Iris in Spring
I love the clean earthy smell of the woods after a gentle rain, where the light intensifies nature's colors. Greens pop and provide the perfect background for the wild Iris.
Sometimes we experience a memorable moment, like the split second before this Great Egret landed in the top of a tree. It seemed so light and elegant, magical. I can recall the experience clearly, and it makes me want to get back out there.
I was wandering along a creek when I found this Eastern Phoebe by following his song. But every time I tried to get a clear shot he changed limbs and usually ended up behind some leaves. I felt lucky to get this one.
Female Northern Cardinal
Some of the richest and warmest colors in the bird world are on the female Northern Cardinal. I think part of what makes her look all put together is matching eyebrows, wing accents, tail and other touches.
This male Summer Tanager let me approach him much closer than I expected. I like the way the early afternoon sunlight filtered through the low green canopy, bathing him in an interesting glow.
Female Orchard Oriole
I had a brief encounter with this bird and didn't recognize her. She turned out to be a female Orchard Oriole on migration from Mexico or South America. She flew a long way to let me take her photo. Isn't she beautiful?
Osprey inflight after a successful hunt
This Osprey is on his way back to the nest after a successful hunt. He will stop along the way to tear off the head, making sure the fish can't thrash around and knock the eggs or chicks out of the nest.
Slate-colored Dark-eyed Junco
In TN, the Slate-colored Dark-eyed Junco is a winter bird, except on Clingman's Dome (6,643 ft/2,025 m) in the Smoky Mtn NP where it is year-round. The cooler temps are similar to the summer breeding grounds further north. I took this in May.
Black-throated Blue Warbler
This Black-throated Blue Warbler came in just ahead of storm clouds. The forest canopy was darkening fast, and the light was dim. He caught and ate a yummy green caterpillar, paused for this shot, and he was just as quickly gone.
Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak
This male Rose-breasted Grosbeak kept landing nearby. I squatted down to get a better angle. Soon my back was aching. He landed again just as I was about to get up, and I almost fell over getting this shot.
Female Boat-tailed Grackle
This beautiful female Boat-tailed Grackle, all warm coffee bean and cocoa brown, was constantly chased by the males. On my last day there she stopped for just a second, all the while looking back for the males she knew would be right behind her.
Young Florida Scrub Jay
Late one afternoon I went in search of the Florida Scrub Jay. This bird is considered at risk due to loss of habitat. After a couple of hours, I found this youngster. It was a magic moment because it was a first for me.
Yellow Milkwort is a Florida native wildflower. On afternoon hikes I would often see it and was impressed by the way it glowed in the late sun. I took several photos until I got one good enough to share with you.
It was the middle of the afternoon, and I was wandering around a picnic area when this Blue Jay landed in dappled sunlight. He paused briefly but quickly left when he realized I had a camera, not a picnic.