Lens Artists Photo Challenge # 210 – Picking Favorites

In this challenge guest host Sarah asks us to pick three favorite photos and describe why they are favorites. I had a difficult time coming up with just three images but here they are.

My first image is one one I took earlier this summer while I was sitting in my back yard. I was hoping to capture birds at the feeder or butterflies on the flowers. The birds and butterflies didn’t cooperate so instead I took a few shots of the coneflowers using my telephoto lens. I’m happy with the effect and like the purplecone flower in the background.

Summer Coneflowers

I couldn’t pick three favorites without including a bird image. This next image is my favorite hummingbird image. I captured him from above as I was sitting on my deck above the flowers.

Ruby Throated Hummingbird

My final image is of two Orcas I captured on a wildlife cruise from Valdez, Alaska. Valdez was near the end of our nearly two months of traveling by RV through Alaska. We saw plenty of humpback whales on two other wildlife cruises but we had not yet seen any Orcas. This wildlife cruise would be our last chance to see them before we headed south for home. I was thrilled when a pod surfaced close to our boat and I was finally able to capture a few shots. This one is one of my favorite photos from the trip.

A pair of Orcas on Columbia Glacier tour from Valdez

Many thanks to guest host Sarah for this Lens-Artists Challenge #210 – Picking Favorites

Lens Artists Photo Challenge # 207 – Seeing Double

In this challenge guest host Jez tells us that “seeing double is all about reflections.” The best opportunities for me to capture reflections occur when I am photographing landscapes and wildlife close to a body of water.

One of my favorite places to see reflections is in the Okefenokee Swamp in south Georgia. The header image and this next gallery were all taken while exploring the Okefenokee.

The next gallery shows some of my favorite bird reflections. The trio of Roseate Spoonbills was taken in Texas, the other three images were taken in Florida.

One of my favorite reflection images is this final image taken at Crescent Lake, Washington.

Crescent Lake, Washington

Many thanks to guest host Jez of Photos by Jez for this Lens-Artists Challenge #107 – Seeing Double

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #188 – A Special Place

Our host Karina asks us to show us the places that are or were special to you and tell us why. I’ve chosen to feature two National Wildlife Refuges located in Southeast Georgia.

Working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mission

The National Wildlife Refuge System is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These public lands and waters across the United states are set aside to protect many species. They are special places to experience nature and to view wildlife. There are over 560 National Wildlife Refuges in the United States.

The Okefenokee Swamp is one of North America’s most unspoiled natural wilderness areas. According to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge web page, “the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge has 353,981 acres of National Wilderness Area within the refuge boundaries.  In addition, the refuge is a Wetland of International Importance (RAMSAR Convention – 1971) because it is one of the world’s largest intact freshwater ecosystems.”

The refuge headquarters are located in Folkston, Georgia. There is also access to the refuge in Georgia’s Stephen C. Foster State Park in Fargo and the Okefenokee Swamp Park in Waycross.

Alligators in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Turtle in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Swallowtail Butterflies in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Wild Turkey in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Snowy Egret in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

Located just a few miles east of I-95 in Townsend, Georgia, Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for a diversity of wildlife, including nearly 350 species of birds. In the spring, hundreds of wood storks, egrets, and other birds can be seen building their nests in the trees on Woody Pond.

Great Blue Heron in Flight at Harris Neck
Pair of Wood Storks building a nest at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Nesting Wood Storks and Great Egrets at Woody Pond
Baby Alligators at Woody Pond

Many thanks to our guest host Karina of Murtagh’s Meadow for the challenge Lens’Artists #188: A Special Place

Feeding the Backyard Birds

I enjoy feeding my back yard birds and keep a feeder filled with seeds close to my butterfly garden. It’s fun to see how the birds in the yard change with the seasons. During the warm months I keep three hummingbird feeders filled with nectar and grow flowers that attract them. I enjoy sitting and watching the birds and trying to capture them with my camera.

In Fall and Winter birds like Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmouse, House Finches, and Northern Cardinals show up frequently. All of these birds can also be seen at various times during the rest of the year. The pair of Northern Cardinals in the header photo were perched in a tree near the bird feeder this week. They like to hang around waiting for seeds to fall to the ground for an easy meal.

Tufted Titmouse
Carolina Chickadee
House Finch

I start seeing a change in the birds in the spring when the weather starts warming up. The hummingbird feeders go up and I anxiously await the first Ruby Throated Hummingbird. Spring also brings the Painted Buntings to the yard. Both the hummers and the buntings come around frequently all spring and summer.

Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird
Male Painted Bunting
Female Painted Bunting
Pair of Painted Buntings

This post was inspired by John Steiner’s Lens-Artists challenge Change

and by Terri’s Sunday Stills Challenge Are you a Bird Feeder? Her post reminds us that February is National Bird Feeding Month.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #180 – Favorite Images of 2021

I am grateful that in 2021 we were able to take a few road trips and get together with friends and family more than we could in 2020. The header photo is my favorite because we had such a fun day celebrating my birthday at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom.

January and February found me experimenting with closeups in my back yard, taking early morning walks on the beach, and enjoying the camellias in my garden.

In March we enjoyed a short road trip to Florida and a visit to Flannary O’Connor’s home Andalusia in Milledgeville, Georgia. A Brown Pelican in Cedar Key and a Peacock at Andalusia were my favorite images from those trips.

Spring flowers were spectacular in April.

May was a special month with a Mother’s Day weekend trip to visit our daughter’s family for the first time in over a year. I enjoyed her backyard garden and the wildflowers on a Mother’s Day walk beside a peaceful pond.

In June we made another road trip to Orlando to celebrate my birthday. A birthday lunch with a view of animals at Walt Disney Worlds Animal Kingdom Lodge was the highlight of the week.

In July and August the flowers in the garden attracted butterflies and bees and a Roseate Spoonbill made several appearances in the creek.

The rest of the year was filled with sunflowers, ospreys, beautiful mornings and spectacular sunsets.

There were also a few non photo worthy events in 2021. Among other things we survived a major remodel of a 1980’s bathroom, enjoyed a visit from my brother and his wife, celebrated a family Thanksgiving at home, cheered on one of our granddaughters at several sporting events, and enjoyed spending time with friends again.

Many thanks to Tina, Patti, Ann-Christine and Amy for another year of Lens-Artists Challenges. In 2022 we welcome three new hosts Sofia, Anne and John. I’m looking to forward to finding out what challenges they come up with this year.

Wishing you health, happiness, and much joy in 2022!