Williamsburg Botanical Garden

September 27, 2021

Williamsburg Botanical Garden has great potential for wildlife and nature photography. It has great opportunities for songbird, butterfly and flower photography. It is located within Freedom Park in Williamsburg, Virginia. There is no cost for admission, but there are donation boxes available if you want to make a small contribution. This botanical garden is open from 7:00 a.m. to dusk every day. The garden has a fence around the perimeter that keeps certain wildlife, such as deer, out of the garden.

Photography Opportunities

If you love songbird photography, macro photography (butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and flowers), and even wildlife photography, this place offers all these opportunities. On one of my recent trips to Williamsburg Botanical Garden, I even photographed a couple of bunny rabbits and a squirrel eating a white mushroom. The botanical garden is a 2 acre oasis with 18 different types of habitats including pollinator meadow, butterfly waystation and pine woodlands.

Hummingbirds

I discovered the Williamsburg Botanical Garden a little late in season for butterflies and hummingbirds. However, on my first photo outing there a couple of weeks ago, I did observe a lot of hummingbird activity. On my second trip this past weekend, I only saw two hummingbirds zipping around the garden, but it is hummingbird migration time. The hummingbirds were drinking the nectar from various plants around the garden and then would rest for a few seconds on a wire fence that enclosed the garden. I was able to capture a quite a few images of ruby- throated hummingbirds resting on the wire fence.

Ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) resting on wired fence after drinking nectar from nearby flowers at Williamsburg Botanical Garden located in Freedom Park in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) takes a short rest in between feeding on nectar from nearby flowers. Hummingbirds conserve their energy by going into a hibernation like state called torpor. Torpor is a state in which their body temperature and heart rate are lowered. The duration of the torpor varies between from five to ten hours. Hummingbirds can save up a lot of energy by resting like this.

Since I just discovered this location of the Williamsburg Botanical Garden, I know that next spring and summer I will be spending a bit of time there photographing the birds, butterflies and flowers.

Butterflies and Bees

This botanical garden has a great pollinator meadow that attracts a variety of butterflies and bees. There are many perennial plants which include coneflowers, verbena and various types of milkweed. Lantana is one of the many annual flowers that is very popular with butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. Many annuals including lantana are found in the butterfly garden at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden.

Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) feeding on lantana on a late summer monring at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden located in Freedom Park in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) feeding on lantana on a late summer morning at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden. An annual Butterfly Festival is hosted by the WIlliamsburg Botanical Garden to share knowledge about the magic of butterflies.

Birds

One of the most fascinating subjects to photograph at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden is the many different species of songbirds. I observed and photographed a large variety of songbirds during my photo outings to this location. Near the pavilion there is a brick patio area with a bird feeder nearby. That bird feeder had a lot of bird action with birds such as white-breasted nuthatches, sparrows, cardinals, tufted titmouses, American goldfinches, northern flicker and downy woodpecker. Yes, I saw both the downy woodpecker and northern flicker at the bird feeder.

American goldfinch (Spinus tristis) resting on a birder feeder on the grounds of the Williamsburg Botanical Gardern located in Freedom Park in Williamsburg, Virginia.
American goldfinch (Spinus tristis) resting on a birder feeder on the grounds of the Williamsburg Botanical Garden. Most often goldfinches are attracted to seed-producing plants such as  sunflowers and thistles.

Songbirds

There were just so much songbird action at this botanical garden. If you are a songbird photographer this garden would be a photo haven for you. There was such a great variety of different songbird species that I saw flying around the garden grounds. I haven’t always photographed a lot of songbirds as I love to photograph waterbirds including seabirds. But, I found myself intrigued by the songbird action here and spent a great deal of time photographing various species of songbirds.

White-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) with seed in mouth while perched on side of tree in the early morning at Williamsburg Botanical Garden in Williamsburg, Virginia,.
White-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) with seed in mouth while perched on side of tree in the early morning at Williamsburg Botanical Garden in Williamsburg, Virginia. Nuthatches will carry away a seed from a bird feeder to a nearby tree. The nuthatch will then place seed under a piece of bark for later.

The bird feeder was not the only area in the garden that was happening with songbird activity. The goldfinches were flying all around the garden from one flower to another. I photographed a bluebird juvenile sitting on the wired fence that encloses the botanical garden. Sparrows and many other birds were just flying around from tree to tree, flower to flower or back and forth to the bird feeder.

Juvenile Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) sitting on wire fence on a late summer morning at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden inside Freedom Park in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Juvenile Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) sitting on wire fence on a late summer morning at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden inside Freedom Park in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Wildlife

Williamsburg Botanical Garden has many pathways that take you through the various sections that include a herb garden, butterfly garden and native garden. There is always something new to discover along the pathways through the garden. Such as one morning, I discovered an eastern cottontail rabbit eating some grass and weeds along one the paths through the botanical garden. Eastern gray squirrels were frequently seen around the garden grounds as well.

Eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) eating a mushroom on a late summer morning at Williamsburg Botanical Garden in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Squirrel eating a white mushroom on the grounds of the Williamsburg Botanical Garden. This image was photographed from the squirrel’s eye level while handholding my camera and lens.

More About Williamsburg Botanical Garden

Williamsburg Botanical Garden offers a variety of photo opportunities for nature and wildlife photographers. The variety of flowers also offers a lot of potential for flower macro photography. One of the best things I particularly like about Williamsburg Botanical Garden is that it opens at 7:00 a.m. as I am an early morning photographer.

This botanical garden is also just a great space to be out in nature and watch all these pollinators, birds, and wildlife in action. There are benches scattered throughout the many areas of the garden. Also, there are a couple of pavilions with picnic tables. So, there are opportunities to sit, relax and be in nature. Majority of the plantings are native species to Virginia and are important in providing a source of food for many birds and pollinators. Williamsburg Botanical Garden has become a new favorite field photo location for me.

Eastern cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus) eating grass along a pathway at Williamsburg Botanical Garden located in Freedom Park in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Eastern cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus) eating grass along a pathway at Williamsburg Botanical Garden. Several rabbits were roaming the garden grounds during my each of my visits.

Click here for a map of the the Williamsburg Botanical Garden and the different sections that are located inside the garden. To sign up for the e-news for the Williamsburg Botanical Garden, click here.

Thank you for reading my Field Notes blog, and I hope you will share this post with others.

Let’s protect our wildlife and nature!

All the very best,

Lori

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