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Best Photography Spot in Newport News, Virginia

November 29, 2021

The best photography spot for wildlife and nature in Newport News, Virginia is the area called Lion’s Bridge located in the Mariners’ Museum property. A dam that separates Lake Maury from the James River is hidden under the bridge. In October 1932, Anna Hyatt Huntington designed four stone lions which were placed on the bridge. Thus, the name of Lion’s Bridge was given. These four stone lions are located on columns on the wall of the bridge and face towards the James River.

The Mariners’ Park is 550 acres of naturally wooded land and is privately maintained. A five-mile trail called Noland Trail surrounds the Mariners’ Lake on the property. The Lion’s Bridge area provides breathtaking views of the James River as well as scenic views of Lake Maury.

Deer on Museum Drive

Museum Drive runs along the west side of the Mariners’ Museum to the Lion’s Bridge area. You may find several deer that frequently inhabit this area of the woods. The white-tailed deer is the largest mammal to be found at the Mariners’ Park. These deer are crepuscular which means the deer are active primarily during twilight.

I have observed at least two bucks and three does on several occasions this autumn along Museum Drive at the Mariner’s Museum and Park.

White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) buck up close in the woods off of Museum Drive at the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Virginia.
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) buck up close in the woods off of Museum Drive at the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, Virginia. In Virginia white-tailed deer breeding season occurs from late September through February. During breeding season, the deer to move around a lot more and usually are highly visible in the twilight hours of the day.
White-tailed deer doe (Odocoileus virginianus) pausing in the woods on an early autumn morning at the Mariners' Museum Park in Newport News, Virginia.
White-tailed deer doe (Odocoileus virginianus) pausing while grazing in the woods on an early autumn morning. The white-tailed can affect the Ecosystem with their grazing for food. The white-tailed deer is a ruminant animal that can digest anything from moss, leaves, fungi and twigs. Also, deer can consume the buds of birch trees, maple trees, poplar trees and shrubs. When food becomes scarce in the winter, the white-tailed deer can eat hardier plants and conifers.

Best Photography Spot for Birds

Lion’s Bridge is the best photography spot for capturing images of a variety of birds in Newport News, Virginia. Along the shoreline of the James River you can see a variety of birds during the summer. These birds include osprey, bald eagle, brown pelicans, cardinals, sparrows, terns, gulls, green herons and great blue herons.

During the fall and winter, you can see buffleheads, kingfishers, warblers, wrens, hawks, pied-billed grebes as well as a variety of ducks. These birds may fly along the James River or come for a rest in Lake Maury.

Osprey, herons, pelicans and cormorants are often seen fishing in the James River right along the shoreline. Often this provides great opportunities for photographing birds in flight and/or birds catching fish. Also, song birds and kingfishers can be found in the trees and shrubbery along the shoreline.

Great blue heron (Ardea herodias) perched on a dead log along the shorline of the James River on a summer morning at Lion's Bridge in Newport News, Virginia.
Great blue heron (Ardea herodias) perched on a dead log along the shorline of the James River on a summer morning at Lion’s Bridge in Newport News, Virginia.

The shads are plentiful in this location of the James River which draws a lot of birds into the area. Birds, like osprey and pelicans, spend a lot of time fishing here. The Lion’s Bridge area provides great opportunities for photographing birds in flight and in action. Thus, I call it my best photography spot in Newport News, Virginia.


Just over a week ago, I witness hundreds of double-crested cormorants flying over the James River and landing in Lake Maury at Lion’s Bridge. This was on a very cool autumn morning. And it just proves that the location provides excellent photography opportunities.

Double crested cormorants (Nannopterum auritum) gathering in Lake Maury on a sunny autumn morning at Lion's Bridge in Newport News, Virginia.
Double crested cormorants (Nannopterum auritum) gathering in Lake Maury on a sunny autumn morning at Lion’s Bridge in Newport News, Virginia. A flock of cormorants is called a “gulp”.

Views of the James River

At Lion’s Bridge area, gorgeous views of the James River can be seen from the edge of the shoreline. The James River is the largest river in Virginia and flows from the Appalachian Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay. The shoreline here provides excellent views of various birds flying over the river as well as great opportunities for photographing the scenic James River.

Autumn sunrise on the James River at the Lion's Bridge area of the Mariners' Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia.
Autumn sunrise on the James River at the Lion’s Bridge area of the Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia. Although known for gorgeous sunsets at this location, the wide open expanse of the sky allows for colorful skies even at sunrise time.

One of the best locations to see and photograph the James River Bridge is at the Lion’s Bridge area. The James River Bridge was completed in 1928 which at that time was the longest over water bridge in the world at 4.5 miles. This bridge was reconstructed and completed in 1982 as new four lane highway with a lift bridge.

Sunrise at the James River Bridge on a cool autumn morning from the view of the Lion's Bridge area at the Mariners' Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia.
Sunrise at the James River Bridge on a cool autumn morning from the view of the Lion’s Bridge area at the Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia.

Lion’s Bridge is Best Photography Spot

Lion’s Bridge area offers so much potential for photographing wildlife, birds and landscape views of the James River and Lake Maury. Lion’s Bridge is one of my favorite Hampton Roads photography spots as well as the best photography spot in Newport News, Virginia. If you are in the area, I would highly recommend checking out this location.

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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My 2022 NANPA Showcase Photo Competition Results

November 02, 2021

I am very excited and honored to announce that my image of an American Bullfrog Sitting on Pine Needles has placed in the Top 250 of 2022 NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association) Showcase Photo Competition. NANPA Showcase Photo Competition is an annual nature photography competition and is highly competitive among the many nature photographers who are members of NANPA.

NANPA Showcase Photo Competition has a jury panel of nature photography professionals that selects the Top 250 nature images from thousands of submissions. These submissions into the NANPA Showcase represent some of the best images produced by NANPA members which includes professional and amateur nature photographers. The NANPA Showcase Photo Competition for 2022 had 3,372 images submitted this year. So, I am very pleased and honored to have one of my seven images submitted into the NANPA Showcase Photo Competition for 2022 be selected as one of the Top 250 winning images.

NANPA Showcase Top 250

My image that was selected as a top 250 winning image in the 2022 NANPA Showcase Photo Competition was photographed at Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia in September 2020. To photograph this American bullfrog, which was sitting on pine needles under a tree, I laid on the ground hand holding my long lens and using the ground to help stabilize my lens.

American bullfrog under a tree on pine needles on the ground at Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia.
American Bullfrog Sitting on Pine Needles, Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia.
Canon EOS 6D Mark II DSLR Camera with Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens, 1/20 sec, f/8, ISO 800

Other Results

As I stated, I had entered seven images in the 2022 NANPA Showcase Photo Competition in several different categories. I had four other images make the semi-finalist round. These images include a brown pelican silhouette head throw (Birds Category), red fox kit carrying a rabbit (Mammals Category), lotus up close (Micro/Macro Category) and a yellow-crowned night heron juvenile with fishing lure in mouth (Conservation Category).

Brown pelican silhouette head throw behavior on a winter sunrise on Mill Creek at Phoebus Waterfront Park in Hampton, Virginia.
Brown Pelican Silhouette Head Throw, Mill Creek, Phoebus Waterfront Park in Hampton, Virginia.
Canon 6D Mark II DSLR Camera with Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens on Gitzo tripod, 1/320, f/6.3 at ISO 3200.
Red fox kit carrying rabbit on an early spring morning in Hampton, Virginia.
Red Fox Kit Carrying Rabbit, Hampton, Virginia.
Canon 6D Mark II DSLR Camera with Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens, 1/2500, f/6.3 at ISO 5000.
Lotus up close on a summer morning at Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia.
Lotus Up Close, Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia.
Canon 6D Mark II DSLR Camera with Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens, 1/2500, f/8 at ISO 640.
Juvenile yellow-crowned night heron (Nyctanassa violacea) with fishing lure dangling from its mouth during the low tide along the shore of Mill Creek at Fort Monroe National Monument in Hampton, Virginia.
Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron with Fishing Lure in Mouth, Fort Monroe National Monument in Hampton, Virginia.
Canon 6D Mark II DSLR Camera with Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens, 1/800, f/8 at ISO 800.

I enjoy entering photo competitions and view it as a way to see how my images measure up to other nature photographers. As a Top 250 winner, my American bullfrog image will be published on NANPA’s digital Expressions journal, NANPA’s blog page and NANPA’s public announcement of the Top 250 images. My image may also be included on NANPA’s social media channels or in NANPA promotional materials. Another added benefit of placing in the top 250 in the NANPA Showcase Photo Competition is the greater visibility and recognition of my work, for which I am grateful.

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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Black Swallowtail Caterpillars in the Fall

October 22, 2021

Black swallowtail caterpillars (Papilio poxyxenes) can be found in various settings such as gardens, fields, wetlands as well as many other areas. Most often everyone sees butterfly caterpillars in the spring. The black swallowtail caterpillars seen in the spring will emerge over the summer as black swallowtail butterflies.

Did you know that butterfly caterpillars overwinter? Usually caterpillars seen in the fall with the shorter days and cooler temps will overwinter. Overwintering black swallowtail caterpillars may be observed in the fall on a host plant.

Host Plants

Hosts plants are the plants butterfly caterpillars use as source food during the caterpillar stage. Black swallowtail caterpillars use the following as their hosts plants: fennel, dill, parsley, Queen Anne’s lace or carrot tops. They will eat the leaves and flowers of the host plant. These caterpillars will eat as much as they can to fuel for overwintering. They will not build a nest in the plant.

Black Swallowtail caterpillar feeding on fennel plant in the fall.
Adult black swallowtail caterpillar on fennel plant in the larval stage as it is prepares to enter into the pre-pupal stage. As the caterpillar transitions to a pre-pupal larvae, it will shed its larva skin and become immobile. During the pre-pupal stage, they will internally secrete enzymes which digest their entire innards into a soup.

5 Stages of the Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

A black swallowtail caterpillar will undergo five stages of various colors while maintaining its characteristic as a caterpillar. These five stages occur from after the laying of egg to the pupa. Each of these stages is called an instar. As the black swallowtail caterpillar molts, it progresses to the next instar or stage. When this caterpillar molts or transforms, its coloring dramatically changes. In the first instar the black swallowtail caterpillar is solid black with a white band. As a full grown caterpillar, it molts into striped bands of green, white, yellow and black. An adult caterpillar can be up to 2 inches long.

Black swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio polyxenes) feeding fennel flowers in backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia.
Full grown black swallowtail caterpillar in this stage will eat to provide the energy needed to transition to the nest stage of pre-pupa.

Overwintering in Chrysalis

Black swallowtail caterpillars will transform into a pupa inside a chrysalis to overwinter. Once this full grown black swallowtail caterpillar stops eating, it will wander a short distance from the host plant. It will then shed its skin and transform into a pupa. The overwintering pupa will then remain in their chrysalis during the winter. It will then emerge as a butterfly in the following spring. The overwintering black swallowtail chrysalis will always be a brown color to blend with fall and winter surroundings.

Fall Black Swallowtail Caterpillars in My Garden

Last week (October 8th), I noticed the fennel in my backyard butterfly garden had 12 caterpillars feeding on it. I went inside my house and grabbed my camera. Of course, I have tried to document all the activity of the caterpillars and butterflies in my new backyard butterfly garden. I was surprised to see such a large amount of black swallowtail caterpillars so late in the year.

Adult black swallowtail caterpillars in the fall feeding on fennel plant in Hampton, Virginia.

As a conservation photographer and storyteller, I always spend a great deal of time researching my subjects. So, after photographing these fall black swallowtail caterpillars in my butterfly garden, I started my research on overwintering caterpillars.
I thought the info was enlightening and wanted to share some of this knowledge.

At this posting the caterpillars are no longer on the fennel. I have searched my backyard for chrysalis. So far, I have not found any but will continue looking.

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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Wild Virginia Virtual Film Fest 2021

October 12, 2021

Wild Virginia virtual film fest 2021: A Walk on the WILD Side will be showing from 6 p.m. on November 12, 2021, and go through 8 p.m. on November 14, 2021. The theme of this film fest is about connecting wildlife habitats with wildlife corridors and crossing. Wild Virginia is a non-profit dedicated to protecting and connecting your favorite wild places in Virginia, will present their third film festival rendition virtually to help Virginians keep safe during this COVID-19 time.

Wild Virginia virtual film fest will be an online film fest where Wild Virginia will present several short films on the subject of wildlife corridors and crossings including the award-winning film Cascade Crossroads along with several other films that highlight our rivers, streams and forests and how we can protect them. 

I hope you will attend and support Wild Virginia’s campaigns to help protect and connect our wild places here in Virginia .

Tickets are free. Donations are encouraged.

Cascade Crossroads Film
Wild Virginia’s Walk on the WILD Side 2021 Film Fest Feature Presentation will be the film Cascade Crossroads.

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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Great Blue Herons at Yorktown Beach

October 5, 2021

On a late summer morning, the great blue herons at Yorktown Beach were very photogenic. Yorktown Beach is located in the historic downtown area of Yorktown, Virginia. This beach is a 2-acre waterfront area that runs the shoreline of the York River. On this particular morning in early September, I found several great blue herons along the shoreline of the York River. These great blue herons provided me some excellent opportunities to photograph them in a variety of different compositions.

I walked along the shoreline with my camera and big lens in my hand looking for birds as the sun had just come up. The early morning provides such great lighting to capture great images of birds. On this particular morning, the only birds that I was able to photograph were several great blue herons. These compositions gave me many different looks of the very photographed subject of great blue herons.

Great Blue Heron Silhouette Standing on Jetty Rocks

As I began my walk along the shoreline of the York River, I came upon this great blue heron standing on the jetty rocks. I captured this image just as the sun was barely up over the horizon. When I came upon this scene of the great blue heron standing at the end of an area of jetty rocks, I thought a more scenic look would be the best composition. I was able to create the silhouette of this great blue heron by shooting towards the bright sun.

Great blue heron (Ardea herodias) standing on the jetty rocks during sunrise on a late summer morning at the beach in Yorktown, Virginia.
Great blue heron standing on the jetty rocks just after sunrise on the York River, I captured this image by being patient and waiting for the heron to make the proper head turn to catch the silhouette profile of this great blue heron.

Heron with Fish

This great blue heron was standing in the water perfectly still when I approached. As I was taking some photographs, the heron suddenly stretched his long neck out and struck his bill into the water. The great blue heron caught a large fish in his bill as he stood back up. After a a minute or so standing back up with the fish in his bill, the heron flew off with his breakfast. But before the heron flew away, I was able to get close enough with my long lens to capture the below close up image of the heron with the fish.

Great blue heron (Ardea herodias) with large fish in mouth in the early morning along the York River in Yorktown, Virginia.
Great blue heron (Ardea herodias) with large fish in mouth while standing along the shoreline of the York River.

Great Blue Heron in Smoky Water

As I walked past the end of the beach area along the grassy area of the shoreline, I came upon another beach area. But this beach area was a little cove area with jetty rocks along the sides of the beach. Just a few minutes after the actual sunrise, there was this layer of smoke that was hanging over the water of the York River in this cove. Then I noticed a great blue heron was walking in the water along the far edge of the jetty rocks.

Great blue heron (Ardea herodias) standing in smoky water along rock jetty on an early summer morning in the York River in Yorktown, Virginia.
Great blue heron standing in smoky water along rock jetty on an early summer morning in the York River in Yorktown, Virginia. For this image, I sat down on the sand handholding my camera and big lens (Sigma 150-600mm contemporary lens).

In my mind, I saw the potential of the smoke on the water providing me a great blue heron composition with a very dramatic feel. I maneuvered myself in different positions as I walked along the beach. I would stop and take a few pictures before repositioning myself. The early morning glow of the warm sun sparkled the water in this cove area. The above image is one of my favorites of this particular composition.

Silhouette of Heron in Flight

While I continued photographing the great blue heron in the smoky water, the heron decided to fly away. Fortunately, the great blue heron flew in front of me giving me a side profile of the heron in flight. Another fortunate element is that this heron also flew between me and the sun. This allowed me to capture the heron in silhouette as the heron flew by me. I learned many years ago to always be prepared for anything when photographing wildlife subjects.

I was photographing the heron in a more scenic composition while it was in the smoky water. However, I always make sure that my ISO and shutter speed is high enough to stop action if my bird subject takes flight. Being prepared with those settings allowed me to photograph the same heron in flight.

Great blue heron (Ardea herodias) taking flight over the York River in silhouette at sunrise in Yorktown, Virginia.
Great blue heron (Ardea herodias) taking flight over the York River in silhouette at sunrise in Yorktown, Virginia. This image was photographed using a very high ISO of 6400 which gave me a shutter speed of 1/4000 at f/8. During low light times, using a high ISO essential when capturing action images of wildlife.

Great Blue Heron Standing on Jetty Rock

This great blue heron caught my attention as I headed back to my car to leave the area. I really liked the composition of this great blue heron standing tall on a rock. Using a rather large aperture, I was able to blur the background of the blue water. The water background gave a very clean and non-cluttered look to this portrait of the heron.

This in the field experience photographing the great blue herons at Yorktown Beach was a lot of fun. I enjoyed the many different opportunities of capturing images of these great blue herons in diverse situations. I was able to create habitat images, portrait images, dramatic feels and even action images. Sometimes there are opportunities to capture common and well photographed bird subject such as the great blue heron in other than usual situations. I enjoyed being creative and capturing images of a common and well photographed heron with such different perspectives and compositions.

Great blue heron (Ardea herodias) standing on rock at the shoreline of the York River on a late summer morning in Yorktown, Virginia.
Great blue heron (Ardea herodias) standing on rock at the shoreline of the York River on a late summer morning in Yorktown, Virginia.

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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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

American Bullfrog backyard butterfly garden behind the scenes bird conservation bird photography birds brown pelicans butterflies Chesapeake Bay conservation cover photo crabbing boat fox kits fox pups great blue heron Hampton Roads Hampton Roads conservation photographer Hampton Roads Virginia Hampton Roads wildlife photographer Hampton Virginia insects in the field Lori A Cash monarch butterfly NANPA nature Nature Photography Day Norfolk Botanical Garden photography red foxes red fox family red fox kit Save The Seabirds Week Seabirds silhouettes songbirds sunrise sunrise photography sunrises swallowtail caterpillars Virginia Virginia bird conservation Virginia conservation Virginia Conservation Network Virginia conservation photographer Virginia wildlife Virginia wildlife conservation Virginia wildlife photographer welcome wildlife wildlife conservation wildlife photography Wild Virginia yellow-crowned night heron York River

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York River Summer Sunrise

September 20, 2021

Couple of weeks ago, I went to downtown Yorktown, Virginia to photograph a beautiful York River summer sunrise. I had not been to Yorktown in years. Actually, this was the first time I was here with my camera to do some photography. I always like finding and scouting out new photography locations for sunrise and wildlife subjects.

When I am not photographing for a conservation story, I enjoy getting out into the field to do some nature photography like this York River summer sunrise opportunity.

The Blue Hour

I arrived in Yorktown, Virginia an hour before the actual time of sunrise to scout out a good location. I wanted to find the spot where I would start taking my sunrise pictures. There were so many options at this location, but I did scope out and find a starting point.

At least 45 minutes before sunrise, the skies were getting really orange. In addition, there was a small cloud along the horizon that would give some drama to my sunrise compositions. With such intense orange colors in the sky there was not much of a true blue hour that morning.

Summer sunrise on the York River from the view of the beach in Yorktown, Virginia.
York River Summer Sunrise which was photographed in the blue hour just before the actual sunrise. The blue hour is the time before the sunrises and just after the sunset when the light is the softest. Usually the 30 minutes just sunrise and just after sunset will have the best colors in the sky to take your sunrise or sunset images.

Actual Time of Sunrise on York River

When the sun begins to crest over the horizon, I hardly every photograph the actual ball of sun. There are certain times when I do. Those times are when there are clouds to help diffuse the brightness of the light coming from the sun or when I photograph the ball of sun through a pier or other structure. The sun is a notoriously poor photographic subject.

Most often when photographing sunrises, I use other methods such as ND (neutral density) filters or HDR (high dynamic range). However, on this morning while photographing the sunrise on the York River, I did not use any special technique for capturing my images. I just adjusted my exposure compensation while using a ISO of 200 and an aperture of 22.

As always, I mount my camera on my tripod and use a L-bracket on my camera so I can easily switch from horizontal to vertical orientation. While photographing the sunrise on the York River, I spent the entire time changing the position of the height of my tripod and moving about the area looking for compositions that I liked. Often the most colorful parts of the sky during the sunrise is not towards the actual direction of the sunrise. So always pay attention to the skies all around you when photographing sunrises.

Sunrise on the York River on a summer day from the beach at Yorktown, Virginia.
The sun just rising up over the horizon on the York River. When photographing the ball of sun, it is often hard to properly expose the sun as it is very bright. Therefore, it often best to photograph other scenes that do not include the sun once it is above the horizon.

The Golden Hour After the Sunrise

Once the sun has risen above the horizon, the golden hour begins. This golden hour is the first hour after the sun has risen. It provides one of the best lighting times for photography, On this particular morning, I continued photographing the seascapes as the color in the sky that morning was just spectacular.

The colorful sunrise along the shore of Yorktown and the York River in Virginia.
This image was captured shortly after the sun peaked up over the horizon during the golden hour. In photography, the golden hours is the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset, The golden hour provides a warm natural light during this time period.

The York River along downtown Yorktown, Virginia provided me a wonderful sunrise opportunity and experience. It was fun to explore this beach area along the Yorktown river front area. The Yorktown Fishing Pier, the jetty rocks and the curves of the beach were good foreground compositional elements for my sunrise images. I definitely will be back to explore more of this area again.

I always love to take advantage of a very colorful sky at sunrise to continue photographing my subjects until the fleeting colors disappear. Being out in nature observing and photographing such beauty means every thing to me. So, that is why I spend every moment I can photographing and documenting the wonderful beauty of our natural world.

Lori A Cash photographing the sunrise on a cool late summer morning from the Yorktown Beach along the York River in Yorktown, Virginia.
Lori A Cash photographing the sunrise on a cool late summer morning from the Yorktown Beach along the York River in Yorktown, Virginia.

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

American Bullfrog backyard butterfly garden behind the scenes bird conservation bird photography birds brown pelicans butterflies Chesapeake Bay conservation cover photo crabbing boat fox kits fox pups great blue heron Hampton Roads Hampton Roads Virginia Hampton Roads wildlife photographer Hampton Virginia insects in the field Lori A Cash monarch butterfly NANPA nature Nature Photography Day Norfolk Botanical Garden photography red foxes red fox family red fox kit Save The Seabirds Week Seabirds silhouettes songbirds sunrise sunrise photography sunrises swallowtail caterpillars Virginia Virginia bird conservation Virginia conservation Virginia Conservation Network Virginia conservation photographer Virginia wildlife Virginia wildlife conservation Virginia wildlife photographer welcome wildlife wildlife conservation wildlife photography Wild Virginia yellow-crowned night heron York River

Featured

2022 Wall Calendars at Zazzle

September 09, 2021

I have created five different 2022 wall calendars that are now available for purchase from my Zazzle storefront. All of these wall calendars were designed using images from my wildlife and nature photography.

These 2022 wall calendars were created as 12-month two-page wall calendars. However, there are other options that may be purchased at Zazzle. These calendars may be purchased as small, medium or large sized two page wall calendars. In addition, there is an option for a one page 12-month wall calendar.

2022 Frog Wall Calendar

My 2022 Frog Wall Calendar includes 12 different frog compositions that I share with you for, one for each month of the year. All my frog images were photographed at Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia.

Back Cover of 2022 Frog Wall Calendar on Zazzle by Lori A Cash Conservation Photography
Back Cover of 2022 Frog Wall Calendar available for purchase on Zazzle by Lori A Cash Conservation Photography.

Pelicans 2022 Wall Calendar

The Pelicans 2022 Wall Calendar features 12 different brown pelican poses. These poses include in flight, swimming, resting on posts, and of silhouettes of the pelicans. Both adult and juvenile pelican images are included in this calendar. All of these pelican images were photographed at Phoebus Waterfront Park in Hampton, Virginia.

Pelicans 2022 Wall Calendar on Zazzle by Lori A Cash Conservation Photography
Pelicans 2022 Wall Calendar available for purchase on Zazzle by Lori A Cash Conservation Photography.

2022 Flowers Up Close Wall Calendar

The 2022 Flowers Up Close Wall Calendar includes 12 different up close images of flowers such as roses, tulips, sunflowers, lotus and water lily. These images of the flowers were photographed in many locations in the United States.

Back Cover of 2022 Flowers Up Close Wall Calendar on Zazzle by Lori A Cash Conservation Photography
Back Cover of 2022 Flowers Up Close Wall Calendar on Zazzle by Lori A Cash Conservation Photography

2022 Egrets Wall Calendar

My 2022 Egrets Wall Calendar includes many 12 different images of different species of egrets such as great egret, cattle egret and snowy egret. I photographed theses egret images mainly in Florida in such places as Alligator Farm Zoological Park, Venice Rookery, and Little Estero Lagoon.

2022 Egrets 12 Month Wall Calendar on Zazzle by Lori A Cash Conservation Photography
2022 Egrets 1Wall Calendar available for purchase on Zazzle by Lori A Cash Conservation Photography.

2022 Great Blue Heron Courting Displays Wall Calendar

This 2022 Great Blue Heron Courting Displays Wall Calendar was created with my images photographed at the Venice Rookery in Florida. This pair of great blue herons were nesting at the rookery. The 12 different images I share in this calendar display many of the courting rituals between great blue herons.

2022 Great Blue Heron Courting Displays Wall Calendar on Zazzle by Lori A Cash Conservation Photography
2022 Great Blue Heron Courting Displays Wall Calendar available for purchase on Zazzle by Lori A Cash Conservation Photography.

These wall calendars will make perfect gifts for wildlife and nature lovers. Check out my many other products that I have created from my wildlife and nature photography in my Zazzle storefront.

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

American Bullfrog backyard butterfly garden behind the scenes bird conservation bird photography birds brown pelicans butterflies Chesapeake Bay conservation cover photo crabbing boat fox kits fox pups great blue heron Hampton Roads Hampton Roads conservation photographer Hampton Roads Virginia Hampton Roads wildlife photographer Hampton Virginia insects in the field Lori A Cash monarch butterfly NANPA nature Nature Photography Day Norfolk Botanical Garden photography red foxes red fox family red fox kit Save The Seabirds Week Seabirds silhouettes songbirds sunrise sunrise photography sunrises swallowtail caterpillars Virginia Virginia bird conservation Virginia conservation Virginia Conservation Network Virginia conservation photographer Virginia wildlife Virginia wildlife conservation Virginia wildlife photographer welcome wildlife wildlife conservation wildlife photography Wild Virginia yellow-crowned night heron York River

Featured

Backyard Butterfly Garden Tips

August 31, 2021

My backyard butterfly garden was created and planted about three weeks ago as I had recently moved into a new home. I have always had butterfly gardens in my yards in my previous houses. So, I was really eager to get one planted to help and do my part to assist with the declining monarch butterfly population as well as to photograph a variety of butterflies in my own backyard.

Milkweed Plants in Your Backyard Butterfly Garden

Always try to plant native plants such as common milkweed, butterfly weed or swamp milkweed plants to provide food for the Monarch butterflies. The milkweed plants are the only host plants for the monarch butterflies. The leaves of the milkweed plants are the only food source for this species of butterfly. Milkweed is very crucial to the life cycle of the monarchs. Without milkweed as their food source the monarchs population decline.

With the current decline in the monarch population, it is essential that milkweed is planted in our backyard butterfly gardens. In my backyard butterfly garden, I planted both butterfly weed and swamp milkweed plants.

Monarch caterpillar feeding on milkweed on a late summer evening in Hampton, Virginia.
Monarch caterpillar (Danaus plexippus) feeding on butterfly weed leaf on a late summer evening in my backyard butterfly garden. The monarch life cycle starts with the eff, then the larva (caterpillar), the chrysalis and then the adult butterfly.

Other Host Plants For Your Backyard Butterfly Garden

Other plants that serve as host plants for other species of butterflies are fennel, dill, parsley, asters and hollyhock. Fennel, dill and parsley are great host plants for Eastern swallowtails. Asters and hollyhock attract butterflies such as the Painted Lady butterfly. In my backyard butterfly garden, I planted some fennel to help attract black swallowtails.

Black swallowtail caterpillar feeding on fennel plant in backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia.
Full grown larva of Eastern Black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes asterius) feeding on fennel plant in my backyard butterfly garden.

Nectar Plants for Your Backyard Butterfly Garden

One of the most popular type of nectar plants to put in your butterfly garden is the butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii). The butterfly bush is a deciduous shrub with colorful flowers that provides a lot of nectar to variety of butterfly species. They are fast growing and easy to maintain. The butterfly bush blooms from summer to autumn and comes in many different colors. One important thing to remember about butterfly bushes is that they only provide nectar to adult butterflies. Butterfly bushes are not host plants and will not attract butterfly larva (caterpillars).

There are many other types of nectar plants that you can plant in your backyard butterfly garden. Some of these plants include purple coneflower, verbena, common zinnia, sedum and phlox. Purple coneflowers have always been one of my favorite nectar plants. Not only are they beautiful flowers, but they provide great color contrast with butterflies, especially if you are planning to photograph the butterflies in your backyard butterfly garden.

Fiery skipper (Hylephila phyleus) on Black Knight butterfly bush on a summer evening in a backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia.
Fiery skipper (Hylephila phyleus) on Black Knight butterfly bush on a summer evening in my backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia.

My Backyard Butterfly Garden

Since I have only been in my new house for two months, I wanted to make sure I got a butterfly garden planted in my backyard as soon as possible. About three weeks ago my butterfly garden was planted. I used butterfly weed, swamp milkweed and fennel as my host plants. In addition, I am providing nectar with three butterfly bushes. In my garden, I have the three different varieties: Black Knight Butterfly Bush, Honeycomb Butterfly Bush and the Nanho White Butterfly Bush. Next year I plan to add a couple more hosts plants and maybe some purple coneflowers.

In these past few weeks, I have had 10 monarch caterpillars in the butterfly weed and swamp milkweed plants. So, I feel really good about doing my part in helping the monarch population. In addition to the monarch caterpillars, my fennel has attracted two black swallowtail larva or caterpillars.

My three different colored butterfly bushes have been attracting many species of the skippers and cabbage white butterflies. I have had a monarch and black swallowtail feed from the butterfly bushes as well.

Monarch caterpillar crawling on milkweed plant leaf on a summer evening in Hampton, Virginia.
Monarch caterpillar crawling on milkweed plant leaf on a summer evening in my backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia. Monarch caterpillars need to consume a lot of food in a relatively short period of time. This allows the monarch caterpillar to store enough food so that they can go through metamorphosis.

Milkweed Beetles

Milkweed beetles are often found on milkweed plants as well. These beetles also eat the leaf, stems and even the milkweed seeds as their food source. However, these beetles are harmless, and often the monarch butterflies and milkweed beetles co-exist on milkweed plants. At least they have been doing so in my backyard butterfly garden. The milkweed beetles have predominately been eating on my swamp milkweed plant that I have in my butterfly garden. I do not look at these milkweed beetles as pests but as part of nature.

Milkweed beetle (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus) resting on a swamp milkweed leaf on a summer afternoon in a backyard butterfly garden in Hampton, Virginia.
Milkweed beetle (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus) resting on a swamp milkweed leaf on a summer afternoon in my backyard butterfly garden. These beetles do not harm the milkweed plants, but they will eat the leaves, stems and seeds.

Providing A Water Source for Butterflies

In my garden is a glass bowl birdbath that provides some needed water for the butterflies as well as for birds. The butterflies cannot land on the water and drink. However, I have watched the butterflies dip down in the water to get some moisture similar to a dragonfly. Any type of puddling in your garden will also help to provide needed water to butterflies as well.

One last tip is that, if you are planting a garden to attract butterflies, it is really important to avoid the use of pesticides as they harm the butterflies.

I look forward to seeing how my backyard butterfly garden grows in the coming years and to the different species of butterflies that come to my garden. I have already spent a great deal of time observing and photographing the visitors in my garden in just the past three weeks. My backyard butterfly garden serves a dual purpose for me as a conservationist and as a wildlife photographer.

I hope these tips will help you build and create a beautiful space for the butterflies in your backyard.

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

American Bullfrog backyard butterfly garden behind the scenes bird conservation bird photography birds brown pelicans butterflies Chesapeake Bay conservation cover photo crabbing boat fox kits fox pups great blue heron Hampton Roads Hampton Roads conservation photographer Hampton Roads Virginia Hampton Roads wildlife photographer Hampton Virginia insects in the field Lori A Cash monarch butterfly NANPA nature Nature Photography Day Norfolk Botanical Garden photography red foxes red fox family red fox kit Save The Seabirds Week Seabirds silhouettes songbirds sunrise sunrise photography sunrises swallowtail caterpillars Virginia Virginia bird conservation Virginia conservation Virginia Conservation Network Virginia conservation photographer Virginia wildlife Virginia wildlife conservation Virginia wildlife photographer welcome wildlife wildlife conservation wildlife photography Wild Virginia yellow-crowned night heron York River

Copyright © 2021 Lori A Cash

Featured

Photographing the Sunrise At Buckroe Beach

August 18, 2021

Recently, I spent the morning in the field at Buckroe Beach photographing the sunrise. As usual I arrive around 45 minutes prior to sunrise at my location. I love to photograph the gorgeous colors of civil twilight. Often this period before sunrise, provides some of the best colors for your landscape photos.

About Buckroe Beach

Buckroe Beach is located just north of Fort Monroe on the Chesapeake Bay in Hampton, Virginia. The beach is three-quarters of a mile long with various areas of jetty rocks and a pier. This area offers various views of the Atlantic Ocean off the Chesapeake Bay. Buckroe Beach is one of the oldest recreational areas in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This is one of my favorite local beaches to go out in the field photographing the sunrise.

Twilight Photography

Twilight is roughly the 30 minute time period prior to sunrise. Photographing at the twilight in the morning calls for me to arrive at my location in the dark. But I like to have time to get my photo gear out and find a spot on the beach to start off with. I always use my my tripod, camera timer, L-bracket on my camera and my wide angle lens to photograph seascapes or landscapes. I always move about on the beach looking for different compositions. Sometime, I have my tripod set up high, and sometimes I take it down low to photograph my beach compositions at the different angles. Twilight often gives the sky a blue color and is often called the “blue hour” among photographers.

Buckroe Beach at twilight on a summer morning in Hampton, Virginia.
The colors of the sky during twilight just prior to sunrise.

Changing Colors of Twilight

During the time of twilight the colors are constantly changing. This quality of light during twilight time creates wonderful seascape or beach images. I love how when I go out in the field at Buckroe Beach in the early morning, everything is all serene and peaceful.

Beach sunrise on a summer morning at Buckroe Beach in Hampton, Virginia.
I used a technique called long exposure photography with this image. Long exposure photography is when you use a very slow aperture to capture the motion of the water. My shutter speed was 2 seconds at f/22.

Silhouettes While Photographing the Sunrise

Photographing the sunrise at Buckroe Beach, or any other beach area, is where I like to try a lot of different types of compositions. Sometimes, if there are fishing boats or tankers out in the Chesapeake Bay, I will photograph them. On this morning I did not see any type of boats on the water, but I did find some other inspirations to create some silhouettes with the colors of the sky in the background. Every time I have been to Buckroe Beach to photograph the sunrise, there are usually quite a few people coming out to the beach to watch the sunrise.

On this morning, I was back on the beach away from the surf and behind the lifeguard station taking pictures of the lifeguard station with the colors of the sunrise behind it. Suddenly people started coming out to stand at the edge of the surf to watch the sunrise. This inspired me to try some silhouettes of people on the beach during the sunrise.

Silhouette of a couple watching the sunrise on a summer morning at Buckroe Beach in Hampton, Virginia.
Silhouette of a couple watching the sunrise on a summer morning at Buckroe Beach in Hampton, Virginia.
Silhouette of people at the beach with lifeguard station at sunrise on Buckroe Beach in Hampton, Virginia.
In this image I captured the silhouette of the lifeguard station as well as a person walking a dog and a group of children standing near the surf to watch the sunrise.

Bird Photography at Sunrise

One of the most important reasons that I love to photograph the twilight and sunrise at beaches is because I almost always find birds at the beach. However, today, other than the usual birds of pigeons and gulls, there were not too many birds that I was able to photograph. Usually during the summer there are a few dozen black skimmers that hang around on Buckroe Beach especially in the mornings. But on this morning, I only saw a few that were flying around the surf of the beach. I was fortunate to capture this silhouette of a black skimmer that was flying low to the surf.

Silhouette of a black skimmer (Rynchops niger) in flight over the water during sunrise at Buckroe Beach in Hampton, Virginia.
I captured this silhouette of a black skimmer flying low to the surf with the golden glow of the sunrise on the water. For this image, I used my Sigma 150-600mm lens handholding.

Photographing the sunrise at Buckroe Beach is always a magical experience for me. To watch and photograph a peaceful and serene moment with nature is a special time for me. The stillness of our earth as the sun rises up over the horizon is such an amazing moment that I like to document and share my images with others in hopes to inspire folks to appreciate our natural world.

The sun rises up on the horizon on a summer morning at Buckroe Beach in Hampton, Virginia.
As the sun rises up over the horizon, the colors have changed significantly since the twilight time period.

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

American Bullfrog backyard butterfly garden behind the scenes bird conservation bird photography birds brown pelicans butterflies Chesapeake Bay conservation cover photo crabbing boat fox kits fox pups great blue heron Hampton Roads Hampton Roads Community Hampton Roads conservation photographer Hampton Roads Virginia Hampton Roads wildlife photographer Hampton Virginia insects in the field Lori A Cash monarch butterfly NANPA nature Nature Photography Day Norfolk Botanical Garden Outer Banks of North Carolina photography photo story Pied-billed Grebe red foxes red fox family red fox kit Save The Seabirds Week Seabirds silhouettes songbirds sunrise sunrise photography sunrises swallowtail caterpillars Virginia Virginia bird conservation Virginia conservation Virginia Conservation Network Virginia conservation photographer Virginia wildlife Virginia wildlife conservation Virginia wildlife photographer welcome wildlife wildlife conservation wildlife photography Wild Virginia yellow-crowned night heron York River

Copyright © 2021 Lori A Cash

Featured

Images Published in 2022 Our Common Agenda by Virginia Conservation Network

August 12, 2021

Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) released its annual policy Briefing Book called Our Common Agenda. The 2022 annual publication of Our Common Agenda has my red fox kit as the cover photo. My image is the cover photo as the result of being the winner of the 2022 Our Common Agenda Photo Contest.

Tearsheet of about my winning Red Fox Kit image from 2022 Our Common Agenda Policy Briefing Book.

In addition, in this publication I had several other images of various wildlife and nature subjects that appear in this annual briefing book by Virginia Conservation Network.

Our Common Agenda is a collection of over 40 environmental policy papers written by, vetted through, and voted on by VCN’s 150+ Network Partners. This policy book by VCN is released every summer. It serves as an educational tool for policy makers and conservation advocates as it is comprised of policy solutions to address the environmental problems facing the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

I am proud to have my images published in a very important environmental briefing book that addresses conservation issues in my home area of Virginia.

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

American Bullfrog backyard butterfly garden behind the scenes bird conservation bird photography birds brown pelicans butterflies Chesapeake Bay conservation cover photo crabbing boat fox kits fox pups great blue heron Hampton Roads Hampton Roads conservation photographer Hampton Roads Virginia Hampton Roads wildlife photographer Hampton Virginia insects in the field Lori A Cash monarch butterfly NANPA nature Nature Photography Day Norfolk Botanical Garden photography red foxes red fox family red fox kit Save The Seabirds Week Seabirds silhouettes songbirds sunrise sunrise photography sunrises swallowtail caterpillars Virginia Virginia bird conservation Virginia conservation Virginia Conservation Network Virginia conservation photographer Virginia wildlife Virginia wildlife conservation Virginia wildlife photographer welcome wildlife wildlife conservation wildlife photography Wild Virginia yellow-crowned night heron York River

Copyright © 2021 Lori A Cash

Featured

American Bullfrogs at the Norfolk Botanical Garden

August 9, 2021

Capturing images of American bullfrogs at the Norfolk Botanical Garden is one of my favorite things that I like to do in the spring and summer. Last year, I discovered a new love for photographing these adorable frogs. I spent a lot of time last summer taking pictures of the bullfrogs in various compositions. I have been back again this spring and summer looking to capture new images of these American bullfrogs at the Norfolk Botanical Garden.

American Bullfrog on Lily Pad Photographic Compositions

Although last year, I photographed the bullfrogs in a lot of different situations, I was unable to get an image of a bullfrog on a lily pad that I really liked. So, this year I was determine to get that shot. So far this year, I have taken a lot of pictures of bullfrogs on lily pads.  And I really like these images I have captured of the frogs on lily pads.

Here are a few of the images I captured of the bullfrogs on lily pads this year.

Also, I have been able to find and capture other different compositions of these bullfrogs such as in the grass and with reflections in the water. One of my unique compositions, I have been able to photograph was a bullfrog with the pink water lilies in the image with a frog.

Here are two different perspectives of the same bullfrog among water lilies at Norfolk Botanical Garden.

Photographing American Bullfrogs

When I am in the field photographing frogs, I always get down as low as I can to the ground or to eye level of the frogs. I am almost always handholding my big lens. I like to move around a lot to photograph the frogs at many various types of angles and perspectives.  Not using my tripod gives me a lot of flexibility. Therefore, I usually increase my ISO so that I have enough shutter speed to hand hold my camera and lens. This low perspective gives me a very intimate look to my frog images.

American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) sitting in grass near the lily pond at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia.
American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) sitting in grass near the lily pond at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia.

American Bullfrog Facts

The American bullfrog is native to the eastern United States. American bullfrogs are large aquatic frogs that can reach a length of 6 to 8 inches. They are very powerful swimmers with strong back legs. Bullfrogs are carnivores. They like to eat a variety of prey including crayfish, snails, fish, small turtles, water beetles as well as other frogs. The lifespan of bullfrogs living in the wild is estimated to be 8 to 10 years.  

American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) up close on lily pad on a spring afternoon at Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia.

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

Copyright © 2021 Lori A Cash

American Bullfrog backyard butterfly garden behind the scenes bird conservation bird photography birds brown pelicans butterflies Chesapeake Bay conservation cover photo crabbing boat great blue heron Hampton Roads Hampton Roads Virginia Hampton Virginia insects in the field Lori A Cash monarch butterfly NANPA nature Nature Photography Day Norfolk Botanical Garden photography red foxes red fox kit silhouettes songbirds sunrise sunrise photography sunrises swallowtail caterpillars Virginia Virginia bird conservation Virginia conservation Virginia Conservation Network Virginia wildlife Virginia wildlife conservation wildlife wildlife conservation wildlife photography Wild Virginia yellow-crowned night heron York River

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New Article Posted on Photographing Sunflower Fields: 8 Tips to Create Stunning Sunflower Field Images

July 31, 2021

I have written and posted a new article on photographing sunflower fields. These 8 tips I have suggested will help create stunning sunflower field images. This article is found on my homepage and on the articles page. Also, you can click here to read article.

I have always had a love for sunflowers and have enjoyed photographing sunflowers through the years. Recently, while in Arkansas, I had the opportunity to photograph agriculture sunflower fields. This photography experience inspired me to write this article and share these tips that will help you create beautiful and stunning sunflower field images.

Good things happen when you just go out and enjoy nature and be creative!

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

Let’s protect our wildlife and nature!

Lori

https://linktr.ee/LoriACash

American Bullfrog backyard butterfly garden behind the scenes bird conservation bird photography birds brown pelicans butterflies Chesapeake Bay conservation cover photo crabbing boat fox kits fox pups great blue heron Hampton Roads Hampton Roads conservation photographer Hampton Roads Virginia Hampton Roads wildlife photographer Hampton Virginia insects in the field Lori A Cash monarch butterfly NANPA nature Nature Photography Day Norfolk Botanical Garden photography red foxes red fox family red fox kit Save The Seabirds Week Seabirds silhouettes songbirds sunrise sunrise photography sunrises swallowtail caterpillars Virginia Virginia bird conservation Virginia conservation Virginia Conservation Network Virginia conservation photographer Virginia wildlife Virginia wildlife conservation Virginia wildlife photographer welcome wildlife wildlife conservation wildlife photography Wild Virginia yellow-crowned night heron York River

Featured

Grand Prize Winner for 2022 Our Common Agenda Photo Contest

July 30, 2021

I am very excited and honored to announce that my image of a red fox kit was selected as the grand prize winner of the 2022 Our Common Agenda Photo Contest held by Virginia Conservation Network!

This past spring and early summer, I spent a lot of time photographing a local red fox den and got a ton of outstanding images. I am very proud of this image of the red fox kit which I captured on Mother’s Day in the very early morning when this kit came right near me as it was exploring its territory. This particular day of photographing that fox den in the very early morning was a very special and fun day of photographing those kits.

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

https://linktr.ee/LoriACash

American Bullfrog backyard butterfly garden behind the scenes bird conservation bird photography birds brown pelicans butterflies Chesapeake Bay conservation cover photo crabbing boat great blue heron Hampton Roads Hampton Roads Virginia Hampton Virginia insects in the field Lori A Cash monarch butterfly NANPA nature Nature Photography Day Norfolk Botanical Garden photography red foxes red fox kit silhouettes songbirds sunrise sunrise photography sunrises swallowtail caterpillars Virginia Virginia bird conservation Virginia conservation Virginia Conservation Network Virginia wildlife Virginia wildlife conservation wildlife wildlife conservation wildlife photography Wild Virginia yellow-crowned night heron York River

Copyright © 2021 Lori A Cash

Featured

Ways to Protect the Monarch Butterfly

July 14, 2021

The monarch butterfly has been in decline these past two decades, and we need to protect the this species. This decline is due to habitat loss, climate change and due to the use of pesticides. The monarch butterfly is also known as the milkweed butterfly. As part of the monarch’s habitat loss is the loss of the milkweed in agriculture fields due to the use of pesticides. This loss of milkweed is a major reason why the this butterfly is in decline. We must find ways to protect the monarch butterfly.

A pair of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) mating on thistle bloom needs protecting from loss of habitat.
A pair of monarch butterflies mating on thistle flower in the Butterfly House at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia.

Facts About the Monarch Butterfly

It is one of the most common and most recognizable butterflies in North America. Its wing markings include black, orange, and white patterns which makes it easily recognizable. Their wing span is about 3-4 inches. These large popular butterflies are a long-distance migrators and often find their way to Mexico during the winter.

The male and female monarchs look very similar to each other. They are only differentiated by the male monarch having thinner black veins and two small black spots on the lower back wings. In addition, the monarch butterfly is hard to distinguish from the similar color and markings of the viceroy butterfly. The difference between these two insect species is that the monarch is significantly larger and does not have the black line across the bottom of the hind wings as the viceroy does.

Male monarch (Danaus plexippus) with monarch caterpillar on leaf of butterfly weed in the Butterfly House at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia.
Male monarch butterfly with monarch caterpillar on leaf of butterfly weed. This butterfly displays the black spot on lower hind wing which indicated this monarch is a male.

Threats to the Monarch Butterfly

A special concern for the decline in this butterfly is due to the many changes in our climate. In the monarch’s overwintering habitats, the increasing amounts of severe weather such as droughts, wildfires and severe storms have impacted the monarch butterflies ability to survive.

In addition, deforestation is a threat to the survival of the monarch. The continued amount of logging and even the falling down of trees have diminished the monarch butterfly’s ability to migrate, therefore, affecting their ability to mate and to increase their population.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) perched on a flower is in decline and there are ways to protect the monarch butterfly.
Monarch butterfly perched on a flower in backlighting on a summer evening n the Butterfly House at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia.

Ways to Protect the Monarch Butterfly

One of the best ways to protect the this particular butterfly species is to plant native milkweed in gardens and yards. This will help replace the loss of milkweed in agriculture fields. Monarch caterpillars will only eat milkweed so this is a very important way to protect this species and to help stop their decline. Milkweed may take a couple of seasons before producing flowers for the monarchs. Providing habitat for these butterflies and caterpillars is essential in saving the monarchs.

Another way to help protect the monarchs is to plant pollinator gardens in your backyard, neighborhood, school or church. Monarchs need the nectar from flowers to stay healthy and to survive. This will not only help the monarch but all pollinators as well.

Lastly, gardening organically without the use of pesticides is a very important way to protect these butterflies.

Pair of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) mating on mulch in the butterfly house at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia.
Pair of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) mating on the ground on mulch in early summer in the Butterfly House at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia.

Working Together

As concerned citizens, nature lovers and lovers of our world, we all need to take action to help protect the monarch butterfly. This decline in the monarchs indicates that our climate is in trouble as well. We need to work together to save the these pollinators which will also impact our climate. Monarch butterflies are extremely important to the health of our environment. The monarchs are a very important pollinator as they feed on the nectar and pollinate many different wildflowers in our environment.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) with wings spread out on flower showing veins and markings.
Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) with wings spread out on flower showing veins and markings.

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

https://linktr.ee/LoriACash

Copyright © 2021 Lori A Cash

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Protecting Birds from Fishing Lines, Lures and Hooks

Protecting birds from fishing lines, lures and hooks is critical to the welfare of birds and keeping birds safe from injury or death from these items. One of the most rewarding experiences to me is to photograph wildlife especially birds in their natural habitat. However, one of the saddest experiences for me as a conservation photographer is when I see a bird in danger or in distress from litter from fishing lines, lures, hooks or other fishing gear.

Encounter with Yellow-Crown Night Heron Juvenile Threatened by Fishing Lure

Last week, I went to Fort Monroe National Monument in Hampton, Virginia in the early morning. On this clear morning, I saw this yellow-crowned night heron juvenile near the shoreline along the low tide of Mill Creek.

I noticed this heron was chewing on something that was red and white. I kept moving in closer to see what this object was in this young yellow-crowned night heron’s mouth. Meanwhile, I took pictures of this yellow-crowned night heron juvenile as I tried to figure out what was in its mouth.

Juvenile yellow-crowned night heron (Nyctanassa violacea) walking in the water at low tide in Mill Creek with a fishing lure in the heron's mouth and fishing line attached to lure at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia.
Juvenile yellow-crowned night heron walking in the water at low tide in Mill Creek with a fishing lure in the heron’s mouth with fishing line attached to lure at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia.

Juvenile yellow-crowned night heron trying to swallow fishing lure

Then, suddenly, I realized it was a fish lure and saw a fishing line that this heron was dragging behind itself. My initial thought was that I had to help this bird as I initially thought the lure was hooked to the bird’s mouth. I happened to be here at Fort Monroe with my spouse who I sent to the Fort Monroe Police Station just a few hundred yards away to get help for this bird. The police station was closer than the park headquarters as we did not have the phone number to the park headquarters.

As I continued to observe this bird, I did not see any signs of it being in distress such as raised wings, loud screeching or screaming or even any panting. Before my spouse reached the police station, this juvenile yellow-crowned night heron released and dropped the fishing lure from its mouth.

Yellow-crowned night heron drops fishing lure from mouth

I was relieved to see that this heron was not hooked to the lure and fishing line. However, I continued to observe and photograph this heron as this bird kept picking up this lure from the sand area and trying to eat it.

After a long ten minutes, I was glad when the juvenile yellow-crowned night heron dropped this lure for the final time and walked away from it. Witnessing this bird trying to eat a lure and having a fishing line wrapped around its body was alarming to me as an individual and as a conservation photographer. This is an example of why we need to protect our birds and wildlife. We must clean up after ourselves when outside in nature so we may continue protecting birds and wildlife.

This incident with this yellow-crowned night heron juvenile trying to eat a lure made me think about what one should do as individuals in protecting birds from fishing lines, lures and hooks.

uvenile yellow-crowned night heron (Nyctanassa violacea) with fishing lure in the water that this heron just dropped from its mouth along the shore at low tide in Mill Creek at  Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia.
Juvenile yellow-crowned night heron after dropping fishing line and lure in the water along the shore at low tide in Mill Creek at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia.

Tips for protecting birds from fishing lines, lures and hooks

Firstly, dispose of all fishing gear in a proper manner such as in a trash can or pack up all your gear and take with you. Do not leave your fishing gear such as fishing, line, lures, hooks or even bait near the water or even on land. We need to make sure the water and surrounding areas are free of debris. These fishing lines, lures, hooks and metal weights present significant dangers to birds and wildlife. Here are a few tips for protecting birds from fishing lines, lures and hooks.

When practicing catch and release when fishing, do not leave the hook in the fish. Please remove the hook and dispose of the hook properly.  

If you accidentally hook a bird, try removing the hook, if possible. Call the local animal control or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or even local park rangers, if unable to remove the hook from the bird.

If you discover a bird or animal that is entangled in fishing line or hooked with a fishing hook, call the local park ranger, animal control or licensed wildlife rehabilitator so that they can assess the bird and its situation to determine what injuries the bird or animal may have.

Educate others about the harmful and deadly impacts that birds and/or wildlife have from improperly discarded fishing line, lures, hooks as well as other fishing tackle.

Lastly, if you are out in nature a lot watching, observing or even photographing birds or wildlife, it is important to have the park headquarters, local animal control and a local licensed wildlife rehabilitator phone numbers in your cell phone.

How to find a wildlife rehabilitator in your area

With this experience that I had seeing this juvenile yellow-crowned night heron in possible distress, I was unprepared as I did not have any contact information for the park headquarters, local animal control and a local wildlife rehabilitator. So, I learned this lesson and have included these contact numbers in my phone so that I am better prepared in the future.

To find a local licensed wildlife rehabilitator in your area, the Humane Society has a listing for links to each state and where to find local wildlife rehabilitators in that state.