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.
This African Silverbill is a beautiful but uncooperative bird. She kept ducking behind limbs and was at least partially obscured most of the time. When she did land in the clear, she was always in shadows, but I was able to get this shot.
Peach-faced Yellow Lovebird
The lovebirds were challenging to photograph in the top of a dense canopy and just as hard to identify. The closest ID I could come up with is a young Peach-faced Yellow or an American Yellow Lovebird. Let me know if you can identify it.
Ahead I noticed this Zebra Dove but knew he would fly away as I advanced towards him. I feigned a lack of interest and faced away from him as I approached. When I thought I was in range, I turned and got this shot, surprised he was still there.
The markings and colors on this Gray Francolin are striking. I was thrilled to capture this one in an environment that shows how well it can be camouflaged but had to approach slowly and stop several times to get within camera range.
Male House Sparrow
Initially, I didn't understand why this male House Sparrow was leaning to one side, then I noticed he seems to have lost a leg. He appears to be compensating, but it's got to be difficult.
Non-breeding Adult Cattle Egret
Egrets seem to always be skittish around me, even in Hawaii, so I only got a distant shot of this non-breeding adult Cattle Egret. He kept his distance, and true to form, took off right after this photo.
This male Yellow-billed Cardinal is more related to tanagers than cardinals but is still beautiful with its red head and black throat. He was a super challenge to capture too as he moved from limb to limb quickly and then flew away.
Pacific Golden Plover
I was afraid I would scare off this Pacific Golden Plover as I had to move around a lot to catch it in the warm light. This bird is in non-breeding plumage and amazingly migrates from Hawaii to the Arctic Tundra each spring to breed.
Male Kalij Pheasant
On a hike, my wife mentioned we should look for the Kalij Pheasant. As if on cue, this male stepped onto the trail. I was in shock! I raised my camera, he quickened his step, and I barely got this in-motion photo.
Female Kalij Pheasant
Just as the male Kalij Pheasant disappeared, the female appeared. She wandered slowly looking for food. I approached her carefully and got fairly close. Suddenly she gave out an alarm call and scurried down the path, but it wasn't because of me.
This Mongoose is the culprit that scared off the female Kalij Pheasant. She took one look at him and was gone. The Mongoose didn't pursue her though and paused in dense foliage to check me out. That's when I got this photo, and he too disappeared into the forest.
Guess who was watching the whole scene play out with the pheasants and the mongoose? This little feral cat was just a few feet down the trail, perhaps wondering if he could score lunch.
Black-crowned Night Heron
This Black-crowned Night Heron was motionless in the water. I took this photo and then watched him for about 30 minutes. He caught a couple of tiny minnows, but not enough to keep a bird this size alive, so I can only assume he was snacking.
This Japanese White-eye was another challenging bird to capture. They are fast little acrobats that may be on the top of the limb one second and on the bottom the next as they search for food, usually insects.
Another introduced bird that gets mixed reviews are these Love Birds. While they were cuteness overload for me, some find them noisy, destructive of fruit crops, and buildings as they damage structures nesting under the eaves.
This Common Myna was the 1st bird I photographed in Hawaii. I followed him on frequent short flights, but he was usually in deep shade. I had to reposition myself several times to finally catch him in this midday light filtered through a thinner part of the canopy.
I tried to photograph this Yellow-rumped Warbler, but she was always facing away or too far away. I finally gave up and turned to other birds. I was on my way back to the car when I noticed her facing me, and I got this shot.
When I first saw this Red-shouldered Hawk her back was to me, and she was in dense foliage and poor light. Then she flew over me. I spun around and was stunned to see her land on an open branch and in lovely light.
This Barred Owl was initially facing the other way, so I moved slowly and quietly. However, he soon turned around and was watching me. I quickly got his photo and then moved along. When I looked back, he was still watching me, but never took off.
Carolina Wren Calling
Birds don't look their best when they are molting, but that didn't keep this guy from showing up loud and proud to belt out his song. There is dignity in his stance, and I just hope the other birds were paying attention. I was.
I see more Carolina Chickadees than I post. They seem to gravitate towards poor light, either perching in bright sunlight or deep shade. When this one seemed to be comfortable in this soft light of the interior canopy, I captured this photo.
This Yellow-throated Vireo showed up when I could use a little extra sunshine to brighten my day. I love the way the backlit canopy filters soft green light on the whole scene.
Female House Finch
This female House Finch was following her more colorful mate around. While he was my initial focus, I was impressed by the noble figure she struck, making it clear she was subservient to no one. I particularly like this confident pose.
I found this Spotted Towhee on the ground, but he was facing away from me. I was disappointed when he flew away without me getting a photo, but he soon returned and landed on this branch in the open with his ruby-red eye clearly visible.
Little Blue Heron
This Little Blue Heron landed in a small tree beside a narrow stream. It took him a bit to get a foothold on the tiny branches. When he turned back to check out the water I got this shot in the muted light of the larger canopy.
Male American Kestrel
Although I've seen many American Kestrels, most fly away if I get within 200 feet. But this one stayed rock-steady on the tiny perch, and I got a profile of him warmed in the soft colors of the setting sun with the reflected cool blue of the sky on his back.
During one of my bird walks in Florida, I ran across this pair of Banana Spiders, The female is the larger one and the largest spider in Florida. She can grow to 5" across including legs. You don't always see the small male because she may eat him after mating.