Florida Red-shouldered Hawk
I approached this Florida Red-Shouldered Hawk from behind but didn't get far before he noticed me. I was able to get quite a bit closer as he scanned for prey. After a few shots, he watched me until he was sure I was leaving the area.
This little pecker is either a Downy or a Hairy. They can be devilishly tricky to distinguish. It was in the range of both birds, and I can't estimate size. So, is he a Hairy, a Downy, or just plain cute? I'm going with cute. 😊
This Savannah Sparrow was well-camouflaged in the dry grass. He would be hard to see if he didn't hop around so much looking for food. This songbird is also quick to take off at the slightest movement, so I had to be still to get this shot.
It was a cold, clear day and this American Robin was basking in the light of the sun getting lower on the horizon. I think it was a favored perch as he didn't seem inclined to give it up easily and let me approach within about 20 feet to get this shot.
I saw a pair of Red-Headed Woodpeckers in the distance and worked my way towards them. They had other plans and were always too far ahead of me. I finally took a seat to plan my next move when one of them came within camera range.
I saw Black Vultures circling high overhead, way too far to get a good shot. Fortunately, I've learned to look for their roost and found it after a rambling walk in the woods. A closeup shows how big and a bit regal these birds can be.
Young Red-shouldered Hawk
After a park ranger directed me to this nest of Florida Red-shouldered Hawks I was able to observe the young over several days. They were so high in the tree it was difficult to see them clearly except at sunset when the warm light poured in from the side.
I noticed this Red-bellied Woodpecker busy storing acorns in various holes and crevices, completely unbothered by me. I waited until he took a break in front of the few leaves that were left to get this shot.
Great Blue Heron
It was early and cold when I found this Blue Heron in a small pond with thin sheets of ice. The water that wasn't frozen was as smooth as a mirror, and he was as still as a rock. When the sun rose and bathed the scene in warm light, I got this shot.
I was so excited to capture this Canyon Towhee. The sun was setting and cast dark shadows when some thin clouds came by and helped diffuse the light just a little. He gave me this proud regal pose before moving on. It was one of those magic moments.
Male Northern Cardinal
This Male Northern Cardinal was moving between branches when he paused and seem to be studying something on the ground. That gave me a chance to get this shot before he disappeared into denser brush chasing whatever it was he was after.
Several Cedar Waxwings were feeding on berries, but wouldn't let me move closer. This is a distant photo I almost didn't get because she was bobbing up and down on this thin branch. It didn't keep her from eating the berries though.
I hiked to a small lake surrounded by trees and brush to watch the sunset, looked up, and saw this Osprey watching me. He let me get very close, and I got this shot before he took off and banked wide over the lake in search of dinner.
Northern Mockingbird in a common privet
This Northern Mockingbird had been eating the berries of a common privet in the background, but he was in denser foliage where I couldn't get an open shot. Then he hopped onto this branch and gave me a backward glance before taking off.
Fish Crow Calling
I heard this Fish Crow calling. The wind was blowing him back and forth on tiny limbs, making it hard to get a photo, but when he turned slightly towards me, I got this profile shot.
This Eastern Meadowlark was foraging after a light snow. I couldn't approach him until something else caught his eye. I was focused on his bright yellow breast and contrasting markings, so I don't know what distracted him, but it let me get this shot.
Breeding Killdeers will immediately run away, often feigning a broken wing, but this one was more tolerant of me during his winter foraging. I love how their bold markings contrast with the delicate and subtle golden tips of their back feathers.
Female Eastern Bluebird
This female Eastern Bluebird is all fluffed out to help stay warm on a cool day. She didn't fly away because she wanted to conserve her energy. The high was 26F/-3.33C that day, and I was shivering too.
I love the eyes and faintly iridescent feathers of the White-winged Dove. I had to pace along with this one to catch it in dappled light. For me, all doves represent peace and remind me of the tranquility I find in nature.
Wild Turkey, male
Thursday is Thanksgiving Day in the US, and the turkey is a symbol of that tradition. This handsome male was wet from gentle showers in the area. He still roams free in the wild, something that represents much of what I am thankful for.
During the early days of fall, I was sitting beside a creek enjoying the murmur of rippling water when a leaf floated by. At the helm was this damselfly, fluttering its wings as if to speed along. I love the fall colors reflected in the flowing water.
Male Summer Tanager
While it seems that every bird is my favorite, I get pretty excited every time I see a Summer Tanager. I heard other birders talk about them for years and then I finally saw one. This male reminded me of that special moment.
Immature White-crowned Sparrow
This immature White-crowned Sparrow was foraging on the ground but decided to hop onto this old log. He seemed relaxed after eating, and I was able to capture him in this lovely light.
Male Tree Swallow
It was challenging getting this photo of a male Tree Swallow from a moving boat. It shows his natural nesting cavity on the right, reminding me of the proud new homeowner standing at the end of their driveway admiring their new home.
Juvenile Chipping Sparrow
This juvenile Chipping Sparrow landed not far from me but never stopped hopping around for more than a second. It was tough getting a photo. I had to ID it later as I had never seen a juvenile before and it looks very different from the adult.
Female Northern Parula
This beautiful female Northern Parula was calm and went about scouring every stem and leaf for insects. She let me take several photos, and I noticed she had lost her other eye. It didn't slow her down one bit and reminded how resilient birds really are.
Great Crested Flycatcher
I always feel privileged when the Great Crested Flycatcher descends from the high canopy that he prefers. When this one came down, I wasn't really ready and had to scramble to get my camera. I was thrilled he stayed around just long enough.
It had been raining off and on for days. The woods were wet, it was overcast, and I wasn't having much luck. Then this Tufted Titmouse landed within camera range. I don't know if he sensed my gratitude or not as he let me get a couple of photos before flying away.
This non-breeding Tennessee Warbler is actually a migrant in its name state. It does not breed or winter anywhere near Tennessee and got its name when it was first identified here in 1811. I honestly didn't think I would ever see one.
Female Yellow-rumped Warbler
I followed this Yellow-rumped Warbler between trees, but she refused to show the yellow rump that earned her the nickname "Butter Butt." I'm still thrilled with this shot because it clearly shows the other markings that make her so beautiful.
Male Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker
I saw a Northern Flicker digging in the distance and slowly approached as he flew up into a tree. When I got closer, I could tell it was a Yellow-shafted male. He wasn't skittish, and after a while, I caught him in this light.
I saw a pair of Brown-headed Nuthatches flying between trees so I set up a chair and waited by one of the trees. After a while one came back and soon after that the other followed.
One of the few birds you can count on in the Smokies is the Crow. These brilliant birds hang out at scenic overlooks and have cleverly trained many tourists to feed them or take their photo. He is fluffed out to stay warm at 5,049 ft.
I was enjoying the fall colors when this Red-shouldered Hawk landed in a distant tree. I approached from the back, but he was obscured by foliage. I had to walk about 100 yards through waist-high weeds to get this profile shot.
I often see Blue Jays, but it takes lots of patience because they move around so much. This one was either curious or hoping for a handout and stuck around just long enough for me to get this profile shot.
Adult Female/Immature Male Cape May Warbler
Another migrant that made my day was this adult female/immature male Cape May Warbler. She was picking tiny insects from the fence in rapid order, rarely stopping long enough to let me focus the camera.
Near the end of a walk, I noticed this American Robin in deep shade. It was too dark to get a photo, but he was moving along a log towards an end that was in the sunlight. As soon as he hopped into the light, I got this shot.
Nonbreeding female/immature male Bay-breasted Warbler
This female/immature male Bay-breasted Warbler was an exciting first for me. She was moving through the high canopy quickly looking for food on her migration journey. And, of course, she stayed behind branches.
If this Red-bellied Woodpecker looks uncomfortable, it's because he is. They rely on their tails for support and stability, so when they land on a perch like this they have to hyper-extend their tail just to hang on. As soon as he got stable he took off again.
My wife told me "something big" flew through the woods near us. It took quite a while to find him, and he was higher than usual in the canopy. I had to wander around in the forest quite a while to find a position where he was in the clear.
Female Northern Cardinal
I'm sad this female Northern Cardinal would not come out from behind the branch. She is such a beautiful bird. I love the alert look with her tuft raised and eyes so bright and focused. She deserves a better photo.
The first bird I saw in the Smoky Mtns was this Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. It flew up on the side of the tree in this classic profile shot. I was snapping photos when another Yellow-bellied Sapsucker attacked it from the back.
Female Scarlet Tanager
After I posted the stunning male Scarlet Tanager on July 8th, I spent the summer looking for more of these elusive birds. I finally found this beautiful female too high in the canopy as the leaves were beginning to change.
Marbled Orb Weaver
I was coming back from an outing and didn't get back until after dark. I almost ran right into this Marbled Orb Weaver. I'm impressed by spiders, but don't really want to come face-to-face with one in the dark. I almost said a dirty word.
Flowers in Hawaii
Hawaii, the big island, has a drier area on the west end of the island and a wetter area in the eastern side of the island. Flowers grow everywhere though. In a few days I'll post a link to the bulk of the flower photos I took for those of you interested in flowers.
Wild Goats on the big island of Hawaii
We saw wild goats every day. Also called lava goats, we were amazed to see how easily they walked across rugged lava fields. This goat looks pretty lean, and that was common for most goats we saw. There were also wild pigs and turkeys.
Gold Dust Day Gecko
This colorful Gold Dust Day Gecko has a loud mating call at night that seriously sounds like a bird.
The Hawaiian Goose is the last endemic goose in Hawaii. I read there were only about 1,024 on the big island, so it was a priority for me. I had also read they liked golf courses, so I searched everywhere and finally found this one.