Nature Photography Day is June 15th which is designated by the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) to promote the enjoyment of nature photography. Nature Photography Day is a way to explain how images are used to advance the cause of conservation and protect plants, wildlife, and landscapes both locally and globally.
How to Celebrate Nature Photography Day
NANPA encourages people worldwide to get outside and enjoy the day by taking a camera and exploring our natural world. This could be your backyard, a nearby park, a wildlife refuge, or any other place that is close by on June 15th.
Explore our natural world with your camera and find something that interest you and capture some pictures whether it is landscapes, plant life or wildlife. Then share those images on social media with this hashtag, #NaturePhotographyDay.
Other ways to celebrate Nature Photography Day is by learning about the different plant and/or wildlife species in your local area, going birding, walking some hiking trails, and even learning about nature photography and/or nature photographers.
Nature Photography Day
I would like to urge everyone to get outside and explore the nature surroundings that are near your area. I truly hope that everyone will just take a few minutes today to appreciate our natural world. I hope you will take your camera or phone and snap a few images and share it on social media as well.
Let’s celebrate or beautiful natural world on this Nature Photography Day!
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This month, June 2021, I began volunteering with Wild Virginia which is a non-profit organization located here in Virginia. As a volunteer with Wild Virginia, I currently serve as a member of their communications team. I look forward to helping Wild Virginia to spread the word about their conservation work in Virginia and am hoping to make a difference by helping to advocate and protect our wild places in Virginia.
What is Wild Virginia
Wild Virginia is an organization that works to preserve forest ecosystems by enhancing connectivity, water & climate in Virginia. They also work to improve habitat connectivity, to educate and to provide opportunities to have adventure outings so that individuals will get to know, love and appreciate the wild places here in Virginia.
What Wild Virginia Does
This below excerpt is taken from Wild Virginia’s website. I wanted to spread the word about the missions of Wild Virginia and what this organization does to protect our water and land.
• Wild Virginia educates citizens, landowners, and other stakeholders about threats to our forests through hikes, outings and events.
• Wild Virginia advocates for the connectivity and integrity of Virginia’s forests and waters
• Wild Virginia influences decision makers by mobilizing citizens
• Wild Virginia protects Virginia’s water quality and ensures the that the laws that exist to protect it are properly applied. They also host trainings so you can learn to help monitor water quality.
• Wild Virginia fights fracking and other types of oil and gas infrastructure, like the Mountain Valley Pipeline. They also take citizens, media, students and elected representatives on tours to see first-hand the impacts of this destructive industry.
• Wild Virginia organizes and leads interpretive hikes, outings, and events. They believe that the places you experience are the places you come to love and care about.
• Wild Virginia monitors all timber sales and projects in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.
• Wild Virginia organizes the Virginia Safe Wildlife Corridor Collaborative working to protect both people and wildlife by reducing animal-vehicle conflicts and improving safe wildlife passage. They also help pass legislation to identify and protect wildlife corridors in our Virginia.
• Wild Virginia provides a place for volunteers to help out and learn more through their volunteer program.
Volunteering with Wild Virginia
As a conservation visual storyteller and photographer, I look forward to my volunteer work with Wild Virginia. Being able to be a part of an organization that works to protect, advocate, and educate for Virginia’s wild places to help make our lands and waters safer for all Virginia citizens is a very important to me as an individual and as a conservation photographer.
I enjoy photographing in these wild places in Virginia and want to ensure that these places continue to exist for future wildlife and nature photographers as well as for folks who just enjoy being out in nature.
I urge Virginians to check out Wild Virginia and to help support their efforts to protect these wonderful Virginia places that we all love to see and to explore.
As my volunteer work with Wild Virginia continues to evolve, stay tuned, as I will share more about my experiences and conservation efforts with Wild Virginia in my future Field Notes blog posts.
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Over the past two months I have been out in the field at Fort Monroe National Monument capturing a lot of wildlife and nature photography images. Fort Monroe National Monument is located at the tip of the Virginia Peninsula in Hampton, Virginia. I have spent quite a bit of time at Fort Monroe, even spending a one full day there from sunrise to sunset. I have been fortunate to photograph a variety of birds as well as different compositions of sunrises and a sunset at Fort Monroe. The potential for wildlife photography and nature photography is very good, as usually every time I photograph there, I see something new such as a different species of bird or a different composition for a sunrise or even a sunset.
Sunrise Photography at Fort Monroe
There are a variety of potential sunrise compositions that can be found along the beaches at Fort Monroe National Monument. The sunrise compositional elements that are located at Fort Monroe include the jetty rocks, fishing piers, sandbars at low tide, beach grass, and of course, sand and the water. The sunrise photography at Fort Monroe has given me many different opportunities to find a different type of sunrise image each time I have photographed the sunrise there.
The beaches at Fort Monroe are right near the channel of the mouth of the Hampton Roads and the Chesapeake Bay. Therefore, one of the most interesting compositional elements that I have found are the cargo ships, tankers, fishing boats and sailboats that are often in the channel in the early morning, and I have begun to include some of these boats and ships into my sunrise compositions. I believe that, with being here in the Hampton Roads of Virginia area, including in the images some of the commercial ships or local fishing boats that travel the area could have good potential for conservation related images for conservation organizations in Hampton Roads and/or Virginia.
Bird Photography at Fort Monroe
Being in the field at Fort Monroe National Monument weekly for the last two months has provided me many opportunities for wildlife photography, especially birds. I have photographed and observed a diverse amount of bird species over these last two months at Fort Monroe National Monument. Of course, there are about 8 pairs of ospreys nesting along the Mill Creek of Fort Monroe, and the osprey are often seen flying around Fort Monroe as well as hanging out at their nesting platforms and on top of light poles. Shorebirds that I have observed and photographed at the beaches and along the rocky shoreline of the Hampton Roads include ruddy turnstones, sanderlings, spotted sandpiper, and a pair of American oystercatchers with their one chick.
I have spent a bit of time photographing a yellow-crowned night heron along the low tide mudflats of Mill Creek. I have photographed this yellow-crowned night heron catching and eating fiddler crabs and larger crabs. These herons would catch their prey and then walk back closer to the shoreline to devour their meal.
Other birds that I have observed in the field at Fort Monroe National Monument include bluebirds, purple martins, Eastern kingbirds, clapper rails, red-breasted mergansers snowy egrets, black ducks, ospreys, juvenile bald eagles, common loons, horned grebes, buffleheads, laughing gulls, common terns, royal terns, and black skimmers.
Sunset Photography at Fort Monroe
Most of my in the field time photographing at Fort Monroe National Monument has been in the early mornings, but recently I did stay for sunset. I wanted to see what the potential was for sunset photography along Mill Creek at Fork Monroe. Due to the angle and location of the setting sun during the spring and summer, there are not a lot of compositional opportunities for sunset photography at Fort Monroe National Monument during this time frame. However, I have discovered that the best location for the spring and summer sunset photography is the marsh area in Mill Creek behind the campground at the end of Fort Monroe.
Location of Fort Monroe National Monument
Fort Monroe National Monument is located at the tip of the Virginia Peninsula in Hampton, Virginia. Fort Monroe is surrounded by the Hampton Roads, the Chesapeake Bay and Mill Creek.
In my recent time at Fort Monroe National Monument, the variety of wildlife and naturescapes and the gorgeous sunrises really does make this place special and a haven for wildlife photography and nature photography. Even though my weekly in-the-field shooting visits at Fort Monroe may start to be more sporadic visits, this is definitely a location where I will continue to spend a lot of time photographing.
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Over the Memorial Day weekend, Keep Norfolk Beautiful held a Great American Cleanup event called Beachside Litter Challenge in Norfolk, Virginia. The purpose is to love our beaches by putting litter in its place. Picking up litter and caring for our environment we can make our world a better place for all of us.
Beachside Litter Pickup
As a conservationist and a lover of our environment, especially beaches since I spend a bit of time on the beaches photographing sunrises and shorebirds, I decided to participate in this year’s Beachside Litter Challenge held by Keep Norfolk Beautiful.
My spouse and I spent an hour on the beach at the Ocean View Fishing Pier in Norfolk, Virginia picking up trash with the grabbers and trash bags provided by Keep Norfolk Beautiful. In our 3 hours of collecting trash off the beach and in the dunes area we collected 3 white trash bags of litter. Some of the litter we picked up included plastic wrappers from food products, clothing, empty beer bottles and beer cans, plastic straws, eye goggles, broken toys, old beach towels, plastic water bottles, plastic grocery bags and lots of random small pieces of litter.
Ocean View Fishing Pier
Ocean View Fishing Pier overlooks the scenic Chesapeake Bay. It is located in the town of Ocean View, Norfolk, Virginia. Ocean View Fishing Pier is the longest free-standing fishing pier in North America. This fishing pier is 1690 feet long and was built in 2005. A bait house, restaurant, game room and restrooms are located on the Ocean View Fishing Pier.
Caring For Our Environment
It felt great to be outside in nature and taking care of our environment and making the beach safer especially for the birds that use the beach as their habitat. Making a difference in my community is important to me as an individual and as a conservation photographer.
I urge you to spend an hour picking up litter in your area to help make our environment a better place for us and our wildlife.
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I was interviewed on Born To Talk Radio Show Podcast hosted by Marsha Wietecha on May 24, 2021 where we discussed photography including my journey into the field of conservation photography as well as sharing some personal info about me. Below, I have included a link to my interview with Born To Talk Radio Show Podcast.
Talking About My Photography Journey In My Interview
In my interview with Marsha, I shared how I got started in photography and how I developed my special interest in bird photography. In addition, we discussed why conservation photography is my true calling in photography. We also talked some about the camera equipment that I use these days.
Revealing My Physical Limitations on my Interview with Born To Talk Radio Show Podcast
This personal information that I revealed in this podcast interview involves medical issues that I have been dealing with and withholding from the photography world. Since 2016, I have been having an issue with both of my eyelids drooping and involuntarily closing, on and off, all day, every day. Some days are much tougher than other days.
Over the past year, I have also developed some other symptoms including generalized weakness. I have not received a diagnosis yet, as the medical field has not been able to identify what is causing my medical issues. I wanted everyone here in the group to be aware as I revealed this info in my podcast interview.
Despite the physical limitations that I have, I still manage to do what I love most which is photographing wildlife and nature and sharing these images with others. These medical issues have given me a purpose with my wildlife and nature photography and is what has lead me to the field of conservation photography. I want my photography to matter, and I want to inspire others to advocate for and protect this beauty of our natural world including wildlife and their habitats.
My Photography Mentors Discussed on Born to Talk Radio Show Podcast
Also, in this interview with Born To Talk Radio Show, I shared the two biggest photography mentors who have influenced me and who have had the biggest impact on my developing my photography style and my storytelling skills for conservation photography. These two mentors are Art Morris and Jaymi Heimbuch.
Art Morris, renowned famous bird photographer, was my inspiration and helped me to develop my skills as a bird photographer. I studied his images, read his blogs, read his photography guides and was a participant in an Instructional Photo Tours back in December 2006. I developed my style of bird photography from his teachings.
Jaymi Heimbuch, wildlife conservation photographer/naturalist/instructor, has more recently influenced my photography as I have transitioned to the field of conservation photography and storytelling. I am learning a lot from Jaymi through taking a conservation photography 101 course from her Conservation Visual Storytellers Academy and as a member of her Wild Idea Lab. Wild Idea Lab is an paid membership community for conservation photographers and filmmakers of all levels where creative folks with diverse backgrounds can share their experiences and learn skill sets. The various tools and trainings that are offered to members of Wild Idea Lab have help guide me to reach a new level with my conservation photography.
Link to My Interview With Born To Talk Radio Show Podcast
On Monday, May 24th at 4pm EST I will be interviewed by Marsha Wietecha on the Born to Talk Radio Show Podcast discussing my journey in wildlife and nature photography as well as my conservation photography. In addition, I will be sharing a little more personal information about me.
I hope you will listen to the podcast and learn more about me and my photography. The podcast will be live on Monday at 4pm, but if unable to catch it live, there will be a recording where you can listen to the episode at your convenience.
Here is the link to listen to the Born To Talk Radio Show Podcast on May 24th:
On a late spring morning, an American oystercatcher was foraging along the rocky shoreline searching for food as the tide was coming in. I observed and photographed this American oystercatcher as it was stabbing his brightly colored orange red bill into the water at the edge of the rocks. It would consistently find oysters just under the water’s surface. Using his sharp bill, the oystercatcher would pry open the oyster shell and extract the oyster with his long bill. But instead of eating the oyster, the oystercatcher would grab the oyster in his bill and fly off, carrying the oyster to feed his chick that was nearby at its nesting site. The male oystercatcher would repeatedly go searching and finding oysters and bring them back to feed his chick while the female American oystercatcher watched over their one chick at the oystercatchers nesting site.
American Oystercatchers Nesting Site
I followed the oystercatcher to see where he was taking the oysters, suspecting that he was feeding chicks. I found that the pair of American oystercatchers was feeding one chick on this old marine pier located on the rocky shoreline that sits along Fort Monroe National Monument in Hampton, Virginia on the Hampton Roads.
Usually, American oystercatcher nests are found on the ground near vegetation on barrier beaches within the dunes, mudflats, sandy beaches, marsh islands or on dredge-spoil islands. Some pairs have even nested on gravel rooftops or rocky artificial islands, but this American oystercatcher pair at Fort Monroe found an old marine pier in the wide open along the shore on which to nest and raise their one chick.
American Oystercatcher Feeding Chick
In between the feedings, the male oystercatcher would defend the nesting territory and chick anytime a gull or tern would fly over the old marine pier. These birds are very territorial and will defend their territory especially when nesting or raising chicks. The American oystercatcher chicks rely on their parents for food until the time when the chicks’ bills are strong enough to probe and stab for food and feed themselves.
I found this location of the American oystercatchers raising their one chick to be unusual or non-typical for American oystercatchers. This old marine pier is behind a building that has a parking lot and pier located behind locked gates, so these oystercatchers are pretty safe from the human predators. Although the old pier is situated along the shore and near a marina there are a lot of gulls, terns and even an occasional bald eagle flying over this area. I was quite surprised when I happened on this pair of oystercatchers raising their chick on the old marine pier in the wide open with no vegetation around to add any protection.
On Saturday, May 15, 2021, The Partnership for a New Phoebus with support from the American Flood Coalition will be holding a drop by at Phoebus Waterfront Park in Hampton, Virginia from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This drop by will be held to gather community input on how the park can be improved as a community space and to reduce tidal and stormwater flooding.
Phoebus Waterfront Park has been a special place for me as I have been photographing at this location a lot this past year. The wintering brown pelicans roost here at the pilings off the dock at the park, and there are a lot of wintering ducks like buffleheads that are swimming in Mill Creek where this Phoebus Waterfront Park is located. I plan to stop by and give my support and input as a conservation photographer and as a photographer that frequently photographs at this location.
Here are a couple of images that I have captured at Phoebus Waterfront Park.
Hope you will stop by and give your input on how Phoebus Waterfront Park can be better for the community and for you.
*raindate would be held on Saturday, May 22, 2021.
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I am very proud and excited to share that the above image titled “American Bullfrog Sitting on Pine Needles” was announced as one of the 30 finalists in the Great Outdoors 2020 Photo Contest by Outdoor Photographer. There were over 1,000 images entered into this contest and only 30 images made it as finalists.
Last year I spent a lot of time photographing the bullfrogs at Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia, and I captured many great images of the bullfrogs. So, I am very happy that one of these bullfrog images received some recognition.
Check out the slideshow of the 30 finalists images of the Great Outdoors 2020 Photo Contest by Outdoor Photographer, here.
This spring I have been out to Fort Monroe National Monument on a regular basis photographing the nesting ospreys. There are at least 8 pairs of ospreys that have built nests at Fort Monroe on either nesting platforms along Mill Creek or on top of light poles around the grounds of Fort Monroe. There could be even more osprey nests that I have not yet seen, as every time I go there, I find another osprey nest.
The ospreys are everywhere at Fort Monroe. I have spent a great deal of time observing and photographing the ospreys at three particular osprey nests located along Mill Creek with two being on osprey nesting platforms and the third being on a light pole at an old basketball court at Fort Monroe. The males have been really busy bringing twigs in to their nest to beef up their nest for this season as well as with fishing and feeding the female osprey.
When they are not bringing nesting material or food to the nest, I have observed the males staying off the nest, just being nearby, like in a tree or top of a pole, hanging out and watching over the nest. Sometimes I will hear and watch the male and female ospreys communicating while she is in the nest and he is in a nearby location.
On the two of the osprey nests that I am closely watching and photographing, I have discovered that there are other small birds nesting under the osprey nests. One of the small birds nesting is some type of sparrow that has built its nest just under the bottom of the top platform where the osprey’s nest is located. The other small bird nest is at the bottom of the osprey nest which is located on a light pole. I unfortunately did not get a good look to see as to what type of songbird it is that is nesting underneath the osprey’s nest on the light pole.
Here is a look of the osprey platform with the osprey pair on the nest and the small sparrow type bird on the foliage under the platform to the left of the image. The sparrow nest is on the back side of this osprey platform just underneath the osprey nest.
I have been going to Fort Monroe on a weekly basis checking on the ospreys and plan to watch, observe and photograph these three ospreys nests all season, hoping to learn even more about osprey nesting and breeding behavior this year. I will continue to share posts about these 3 osprey nests as the year progresses from nest building, copulating, egg sitting, chicks being born and young ospreys leaving the nest.
I hope you will follow along on this photographic journey, learning osprey behaviors with me.
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I have posted a new photo story article that I have written called Afternoon At the Beach With A Pied-Billed Grebe. I had the pleasure a few years ago to spend a wonderful spring afternoon with this one pied-billed grebe I discovered at the beach in Nags Head on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It displayed an amazing behavior that I was fortunate to witness and photograph. Have you ever seen a pied-billed grebe walking? Well, I have. Check out my story about witnessing and photographing this pied-billed grebe walking on the beach and in the surf.
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Pre-dawn, I was set up and ready to photograph a local red fox den that I recently discovered. As the sun was coming up and providing excellent frontal lighting for this red fox family, I started to see the movement and stirring of several kits or pups, whichever name you prefer to call the red fox babies. In total I saw 7 pups out frolicking around in the grass with each other or getting some nursing from their mother.
From what I could tell these pups were probably born sometime last month and most likely just came out of their den recently as none of the pups left the den area. As these pups become more accustom to their area outside the den, I am sure they will start exploring further away from their den.
This fox den is situated perfectly for frontal lighting for morning photography. In the last couple of weeks, I have been out to this location at both the morning and late evening. There has been a lot of activity with the whole fox family. I have seen all 7 fox pups and both adults on each visit to this particular location. Across from the den is an open field which allows for some good hunting for the foxes. The den is also located in high ground near some water.
Like with all my wildlife and bird photography, I like to get as low as possible to the ground to photograph subjects at eye level, and there is no exception with photographing this red fox family. Being low to the ground and at eye-level allows for much more intimate images of the foxes. I will normally sit down on my little photo stool behind my tripod with my camera and long lens mounted with my tripod low to the ground, and depending on the location of the foxes, I may also lay flat on the ground handholding my camera and lens.
Foxes likes to return to the same den each year to have and raise their pups until it is time for the pups to venture out on their own. Now that I know of this particular den, I plan to spend a lot of time photographing and observing their behaviors this spring and summer and, hopefully, in future years as well when the red foxes return to this den area each year.
Before learning of this red fox den, I did not know too much about red foxes as I have not photographed them before. However, to be better able to take some fabulous photographs of the foxes, I have now been reading a lot about red foxes to help me understand them and be able to anticipate their behaviors so that I can document these fox behaviors as well with my camera.
I have had so much fun, so far, photographing this red fox family at their den. The fox pups are just so adorable and so entertaining to watch and photograph. I look forward to continue photographing and observing the behaviors of these red foxes in the future. So, you may see more red fox blog posts this spring and summer.
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“Globally, seabird populations have declined by a staggering 70 percent since the 1950s. That percentage decrease equates to a loss of about 230 million birds in over 60 years. Ocean warming is changing their food, migrations, and habitat, while pollution, coastline development, and other factors are making it harder for these birds to survive”.
We need to take action to Save the Seabirds this week and every week. Please contact your local members of Congress and urge them to support laws and policies that protect seabirds from threats such as overfishing and climate change.
I know this Save the Seabird Week is almost over but Audubon is urging folks to use the hashtag #SaveTheSeabirds in any of your posts during this virtual week of Seabird Action.
Lets take action to #SaveTheSeabirds!
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Virginia’s Department of Wildlife Resources board passed regulations on March 18, 2021 that will help to protect Virginia’s migratory birds from “incidental take” from human activities regarding unintentional harm or mortality.
This ground breaking regulation is in to the response of the reinterpretation of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) from the US Department of Interior in December 2017. That reinterpretation stated the MBTA does not prohibit “incidental take”. This change in 2017 did not allow protection for incidental harm or mortality to migratory birds as it was ruled not punishable.
Virginia is the first state to pass this type of regulation to help protect migratory birds from “incidental take”. This is terrific news for Virginia’s migratory birds.
Meanwhile, the US Department of Interior is taking steps to reverse their position on their interpretation of the “incidental “take” protection for migratory birds.
Here is the link for Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources from their website regarding this new regulation.
Here is a link for an article about this new regulation for migratory bird by Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources:
Welcome to my Field Notes blog where I will share wildlife and nature conservation field notes of my experiences in the field, conservation information and news, conservation articles, updates on my conservation photography projects and how readers can help to protect our natural world.
I have been photographing wildlife and nature for over 30 years but recently have joined the world of wildlife and nature conservation photography. I have always have had the motto of wanting to share my photography vision of the natural world with others in hopes that others would learn to appreciate the natural world. So, I have always been a conservationist photographer in my heart. As an individual I have always been a conservationist.
One of the reasons I am joining the conservation photography field is so that I can also combine my writing with my photography so I can share visual stories of wildlife and nature that I photograph. I especially love birds and have a special interest in waterbirds. I want to share my experiences with these magnificent creatures in the hope of inspiring others to take action to protect these beautiful birds and their environment.
I live in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, and lately have mainly focused on photographing the wildlife and nature of this costal Virginia area. My conservation photography will focus mainly on the Hampton Roads of Virginia area, but on this blog, I will also share information, articles, and various other ways that we can protect all our world’s wonderful wildlife creatures as well as our beautiful world.
I am not new to blogging as I have been sharing my journey with my wildlife and nature photography on my other website at Lori A Cash Photography. I will continue to post on both blogs with my Field Notes blog concentrating just on my conservation photography.
I want to use my photography to advocate and support conservation awareness and action to protect our wildlife and our natural world.
I hope you will follow my Field Notes blog as I share my journey into the field of conservation photography. I hope to inspire and educate readers on how to get involved and to take action to protect our natural world.