Patricia Temples Photography

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Archive for the category “FLORA AND FAUNA”

Signs of Spring

Spring was a long time coming this year, but once it emerged, everything popped out suddenly, creating beautiful colors everywhere and washing all of us with pollen, and subsequently, allergies.  My photography excursions have been few lately because of the latter, but today I feel re-energized by my contact with nature as everything comes to life.

My husband and I monitor a bluebird trail on a local golf course, and today was our second day out checking what is happening in the boxes.  The bluebirds have been so busy since last week.  There are nests in 14 boxes and a total of 22 eggs.  Last week we had only 2 nests and 5 eggs.  The chickadees are also busy and now have three nests, one of which has 5 eggs.  This was so exciting to us.

But, the added bonus of monitoring a bluebird trail is the opportunity to see other wildlife.  Today we saw a beautiful heron on the golf course near one of the larger ponds. It is smaller than the familiar Great Blue Heron.  I photographed it and identified it as a Green Heron.  It flashes a lot of blue in flight, and no green that I could detect, even in my image, but it is a beautiful bird, no matter the name.  I also photographed a Meadowlark and a Kingbird, as well as a bumblebee on large blue hyacinths.  I am so glad for spring and new life.

Bumblebee on Hyacinth Green Heron Green Heron Meadowlark

Feathered Friends

The forecast called for a few flurries this morning.  It is flurrying really hard out there! I love it.  We have a number of feeders on our property, placed very close to a maple tree not far from the house.  On a snowy day, the variety of birds is exciting, and watching them flit from the feeders to the tree is exhilarating. My goal today was to get an image of cardinals and bluejays together on the tree.  I think I was successful in this endeavor, although I can never get as close as I really want.   Today the female cardinals are the most beautiful I have ever seen them.  They stand out in the snow and have a golden glow.  I liked the fact that I captured a cardinal and a bluejay in flight….a bonus for standing in 29 degrees and waiting patiently for the birds to align themselves just as I wanted.

You may be wondering why all the birds are facing to the right.  The mountains are located in that direction.  Normally they could enjoy the view, but today the mountains are obliterated by the snowfall, uh, flurries.  They are facing to the right because that’s where the feeders are located.

Incoming cardinal

Incoming bluejay Four cardinals and a Sparrow Two Female Cardinals Beautiful Male Bluejays and Cardinal

An Animal Tour

Photographing animals is an awesome experience….when you have the opportunity.  They are elusive and skittish.  There are a couple of hawks on our private road who swoop down in front of me as I drive out, taunting me with their accessibility, which really isn’t accessibility.  If I stop to grab the camera, off they fly. Another ones lives along a road I travel frequently.  He knows I cannot pull off the four-lane highway to get a shot of him so he sits there and laughs.  But, occasionally I get really lucky and have the camera in my hand in a place where I can actually get a shot.  Today I will show you some of my favorite shots of animals.  I have gotten images of all kinds of animals, from the White-Tailed Deer in the Shenandoah National Park, to the tiny snail in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

A White-Tailed Deer in SNP

Two Dragonflies

Cedar Waxwings in a Wild Cherry Tree

At the Rookery — Two Great Blue Herons

Not Suitable for Children

Halloween Pennant Dragonfly

Ring-Necked Pheasant

Tiny Snail on a Leaf

Turtle

Brown Pelican in Chincoteague, VA

Virginia Lovers

An Unlikely Pair takes a Break from their Battles

In Celebration of Trees

Many photographers have a love affair with TREES.  I am one of them.  I should have a bumper sticker that says:  “Caution:  I stop to photograph trees.”  I admire their strength, structure and longevity.  The four seasons reveal things about deciduous trees that I find exciting.  Now in the winter season in Virginia, I see the strong dark trunks, the reaching arms and the smaller branches sometimes overlapping and fighting for space.  In spring, the emergence of the pale green leaves or the blossoms on a fruit tree make me feel energy and enthusiasm.  In summer, trees provide respite from the heat with their shade and breezes.  And, in fall the warm colors impart a sense of peace and calm  to prepare us for the resting period of winter.  Evergreen trees are special in other ways.  In religion, they are a symbol of eternal life.  They exude stability, nobility, and constancy.  They complete the landscape with a backdrop of strong greens amid the white or pink blossoms in spring or the autumn orange, gold and red. When the snows come they are adorned in white blankets, holding their arms to embrace the cold and quiet of the winter.

Photographing trees requires some planning.  Sometimes the initial view of a tree is not its best side.  There is a tree on a golf course near my home that survived a serious tornadic event in 2004.  From one view it is a small, compact and shapely tree with nice curves.  But viewed from another side, the damage from the storm is very obvious.  One lone branch reaches out, upsetting the balance of the tree.  It is a survivor, and it will be exciting to see how it changes as it matures.  And, oh, the stories it could tell.  Another set of trees that I have photographed many times is a row of Bradford Pears along my neighbor’s driveway.  I have told her that I need to pay her rent for my time spent with her trees.  I’m so glad I repeatedly aimed my camera at her trees, because a derecho last June took out more than half of them, and a subsequent wind storm a few weeks later damaged others.

It is no surprise to me that the TREE has become a major player in our Christmas decorating.  I wondered about how and when that became a tradition.  While the use of the tree in religious customs can actually be traced back to the time of paganism, as Christianity grew, the use of the tree carried over, and may have become a Christmas tradition as early at the 15th Century.  Early modern Germany is the birthplace of the decorated tree and emigrants carried this tradition with them overseas.  In the 1960s, due to the popularity of the Charlie Brown Christmas, aluminum Christmas trees adorned homes.  In my childhood home we had a somewhat garish one which was white aluminum, and a rotating color wheel shone different colors on it to create special effects.  That lasted two years until some brave soul in my family told my mother than we didn’t really like the white tree.

In this holiday season, I pay tribute to TREES.

Bradford Pears in Fall Bradford Pears in Spring Bradford Pears in Winter Survivor in Fall Survivor in Winter Before the storm took it down Stately EvergreenSpruce Knob LakeChristmas Tree at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Sherando Lake Adventure

There is a beautiful small lake tucked away in the mountains near Waynesboro, Virginia.  I visited there over thirty years ago in the fall and I’ve never forgotten that visit.  However, I moved away from that area of the state to Richmond, then back to my current home about an hour north, so it hasn’t been a destination for a very long time.  That is going to change.  Yesterday’s adventure to  Sherando Lake was one of the best.  The colors were at their peak, the mist was rising off the water at sunrise, and it was peaceful, as the campers nearby were still sleeping.  Before daybreak, we heard three owls in the woods talking quietly to each other across the lake. Saw-whets, perhaps?  My favorite little owl. A pileated woodpecker called to us later in the morning.  The reflections of the golds, reds and greens in the water took my breath away.  Even the oaks had color, which is unusual in Virginia this time of year.  Sherando, I have neglected you, but it won’t happen again.

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Shenandoah National Park in Autumn

I was born and raised in Virginia and I have never lived anywhere else.  Now in my retirement years, I am lucky to live near the Shenandoah National Park.  In fifteen minutes I am on Skyline Drive, and in another thirty minutes I am in Big Meadows, my favorite area of the park.  This week I had the good fortune to drive up three times.  Even though in the “low land” where I live autumn is just beginning to make its mark, in SNP red, golds and oranges are emerging everywhere.  In another week or two it should be fantastic.

In the meadow there are berry bushes changing to a deep rich burgundy color, milkweed pods opening to spread their seeds, grasses blowing in the wind with an occasional goldenrod pepping through.  The ferns are dying back to lovely shades of gold and brown.  It is quiet and peaceful.  Because the full moon occurred this week, the animals were not out at sunrise.  They use the brightness of the moon to feed and forage at night, so when we arrived their tummies were full and they were sleeping in the woods.

National Public Lands Day was Saturday, September 29th, and entry to the park was free.  There were many people hiking and enjoying the crisp autumn air.  I was part of a group of volunteers who worked in Big Meadows to control Black Locust trees that are threatening to change the landscape there.  It was a wonderful day in the Park.  But, then, every day in the Park is a wonderful day.

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