Huntley Meadows Spring Visit

Made my first visit to Huntley Meadows Park this year. Found a lot of vegetation missing from previous years, but still enough for this nutria to have a hearty breakfast.

There was a good compliment of ducks and geese on the water, including this nice mallard.

While scanning the waters, I noticed a circling shadow which turned out to be an adult bald eagle surveying the area.

A little closer to the boardwalk and keeping an eye on me was this muddy American bullfrog.

As I was leaving the park, I noted that I hadn’t seen a Great Blue Heron this morning, the first time I have been at the park and not seen one. Not 30 seconds later, I spotted one among the trees and grabbed this shot before it took off.


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    Everglades National Park

    My first visit to Everglades National Park….it’s about time. The third largest national park in the continental U.S. Called the “river of grass”, it is a protected ecosystem containing wetlands, forests, and wildlife.

    For bird photographers, it is a real paradise. I’ve posted some of the species found in the park below. The image above is the Black-crowned night heron.

    The Green heron, patiently waiting to spot its next meal.

    The Great blue heron.

    The Little blue heron.

    The Great egret.

    The White ibis (juvenile).

    The Anhinga (female).

    The Purple gallinule. Watching them skip over lilly pads is entertaining.

    Its’s not all wading birds in the Everglades. There are many species of birds including the Barred owl.

    The Everglades offers wonderful landscape scenes as well as all of the birds. This early morning image was taken from the boardwalk near the Royal Palm Visitor Center,

    Couldn’t leave out one of the frequently sighted inhabitants of the park, the alligator.


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    • Mike PillowsMarch 6, 2022 - 6:21 pm

      Whoa… now that’s a lot of variation in species of birds. What an inspiring post to do more bird photography.

    • Erika TMarch 7, 2022 - 12:52 pm

      Beautiful photos! Especially the sunrise/set ???? I’ve always wanted to visit here when my Dad was alive & lived in FL

    • Mike WalkerMarch 7, 2022 - 1:35 pm

      Thanks Mike P!

    • Mike WalkerMarch 7, 2022 - 1:36 pm

      Thanks Erika T!  That’s a sunset, by the way.

    Big Cypress National Preserve

    If you are visiting the Everglades, a trip to Big Cypress National Preserve is an absolute must. The landscape seems foreign to what you might typically expect in the United States. Massive Cypress trees growing out of the swamp, lush vegetation, plenty of alligators, birds, butterflies, and insects. You can spend many hours here, photographing it all.

    You will see hundreds of bromeliads here in the Preserve. They attach themselves to the cypress tress using their roots. They are airplants in the pineapple family. This one above, in bloom.

    Birds are abundant, such as this great egret. The waters are filled with good fishing and hunting for them. Again, you can see all of the bromeliads covering the cypress trees.

    Among the insects found here are numerous dragonflies and I also spotted many zebra longwing butterflies, the state butterfly of Florida. At almost every stop, you can spot an alligator either in the water or just sunning right next to the road. As for mosquitoes….well, they can be a problem if there is no breeze around, just be prepared.


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      Back in the Fall – Great Smoky Mountains

      After a great trip to the Smoky mountains back in the spring, I returned in the fall with another group of photographers to explore the changes the season had brought to the landscape. The streams were running well after recent rains and the colors in the leaves were just starting to turn.

      The lower elevations of Great Smoky Mountains National Park still held onto its green and I found this nice fern among the moss and mushrooms near the barn at Bud Ogle’s cabin.

      Sunrise at Clingman’s Dome brought us an awesome surprise. The entire scene around us was filled with the low clouds and fog that gave the Smokies its name. As the morning continued, and the layer of covering below began to break up, the tops of the nearby mountain peaks appeared.


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        Visiting the Smokies

        Back again in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and wow, the bears were out! Certainly more bears than I had ever seen before in a single day here in the park. Many new cubs and getting to see them climbing trees and having a great time playing, was a special treat.

        The spring rain also created many hillside waterfalls that you don’t get to see in other seasons, like this one below.

        Besides the bears, there were coyotes, elk, eagles, herons, and many white-tailed deer in the meadows and fields.

        My favorite location in the Smokies is the Tremont area, which offers unlimited spring cascades to photograph. If you’re lucky to have an overcast day, you can easily spend all day along this waterway. One of the largest and more photographed cascades is picture below.


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          Back at Huntley Meadows

          After a looooong wait, filled with photography around the home and backyard, the time was right to travel again, even if only a local trip! It certainly felt great to be outside, photographing nature again at Huntley Meadows, a county park in northern Virginia. The turtles were out in force, including these red-eared sliders above.

          The red-winged blackbirds were calling and posing on tree stumps and last year’s stalks.

          As extra bonus features, there were beavers, bald eagles and a pair of wood ducks to enjoy again.

          It was pretty good…..


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            Mono Like and Bodie Ghost Town

            Mono Lake, CA is often described as an alien landscape and just look at it, it’s a perfect description! The alkaline lake with its limestone tufas are certainly not your normal landscape. It is a fantastic location for sunrise and sunset photographs. The photo above, taken at sunrise, is typical of the sights you see there. On this morning, a nearby wildfire resulted in a thick line of smoke across the sky which turned orange with the sunrise light.

            Sunsets are just as nice at Mono Lake and more so when you have a nice set of clouds in the sky. Here in August, flowers were blooming around the tufas.

            The night sky in this area of California allows a great view of the milky way. This shot was taken near Navy Beach long the lake shore where short groups of tufas stand.

            Another sunrise morning at the lake. Another fortunate morning of clouds in the sky turning pink before the sun rises above the horizon.

            The ghost town of Bodie State Historical Park is a must see if you are in the area of Mono Lake. Created in the late 1800’s during the gold rush days, it became a ghost town when the mines died out. It is now preserved by the state of California and we had exclusive access after public visiting hours. We took advantage of the nighttime sky for milky way and star circles. Above is the one church remaining in the town of Bodie.

            We also had access to the interiors of buildings normally closed to the public. I found this painted floor covering in the lobby of the Dechambeau Hotel an interesting 20th century relic with its depictions of movie cowboys like Hopalong Cassidy and his horse, Topper.


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