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!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #160 – Your Inspiration

Our host Patti has challenged us to show what our inspiration looks like. I find my inspiration in the natural world.

In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.

John Muir

Starting the day by watching the sun rise adds inspiration to any day.

The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration.

Claude Monet
Black Eyed Susans
Sunflower on a sunny July Day
Gulf Fritillary on Mexican Sunflower

The natural beauty found in America’s National Parks never ceases to inspire me.

Grand Canyon North Rim Roosevelt Point
Giant Redwood in Redwoods National Park
Hot Spring, Yellowstone National Park
Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, California

If you truly love nature you will find beauty everywhere.

Vincent Van Gogh
Spoonbill and Snowy Egret
White tail deer
Great Egret

The weekly challenges from the gifted lens-artists hosts Tina, Ann-Christine, Patti and Amy always inspire me to be a better photographer. I’m also inspired by all of the talented WordPress bloggers who respond to the challenge with their wonderful photographs.

Many thanks to Patti for this challenge. Be sure to visit her original post at Lens-Artists challenge #160: Your Inspiration.