These very common small birds are friendly birds and are often surrounded by half a dozen or more of its kind. During cold winter months they feed on seeds and grains. In the spring, summer and fall they feed on insects, flies and mosquitoes. Normally sparrows are noticed in joyful conditions, sing musically and chatterers about the day’s business. There are times a sparrow will mourn; this only happens when the bird’s mate has been killed or its nest and young is destroyed. Although some people may consider them a nuisance and of no monetary value, but accordance to the Bible in the days of Jesus, these tiny birds were an article of commerce as they are now in the Far East.
Eastern Song Sparrow
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I photographed this Egret from my kayak on the Warwick River; a 14.4 mile tidal estuary that meanders through tall grasses and cat-o-nine tails to cut its way into the James River.
This piece of paradise is a birders’ delight. I spotted Herons, Egrets, Sandpipers, and at least six other small bird species I couldn’t identify. One hairy critter smoothly swam across my bow. As it went ashore I identified it as a muskrat.
This beautiful peaceful setting is in Newport News, VA. In 2013 the population was estimated to be 183,412, making it the fifth-most populous city in Virginia. According to the United States Census Bureau the city has a total area of 120 square miles (310 km2), of which 69 square miles (180 km2) is land and 51 square miles (130 km2) (42.4%) is water.
This vicious sea gull stands its ground by relentless squawking and wings lifted high. It’s ready for a show down as other gulls dive-bomb in pursuit of abandoned turkey scraps.
Bullies are everywhere. I’m attacked from all sides. Those birds have the gull to try to take my food. This isn’t the first time I was bullied to give them my food. What is it with me, am I an easy prey?
Photo by: Richard Smith
Uncommon to my area of Southeast Virginia is the Red Throated Loon. I photographed this aquatic bird in late November at Messick Point on the Back River an estuary to the Chesapeake Bay. At my first sighting, the head was barley above water with its winter plumage of speckled blackish and white spotted feathers, it swiftly swam near the water surface like an otter. Once it surfaced the loon posed long enough for me to get a few nice pictures.
In doing my research for this Loon, it is said in The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds, “Loons have difficulty walking on land because their legs are located at the extreme rear of their bodies, so they are seldom seen away from the water. They are extremely vulnerable to oil pollution; many have been killed along both coasts as a result of recent spills.”
Hope you all enjoy!!
Like most takers of fish, the Great Blue Heron waits for long periods of time for a fish to get close. When the fish is within striking distance and with lighting speed the Great Blue Herons’ beak jabs into the water in an attempt to clamp onto the fish. Here you see the Great Blue Heron attempting to swallow the fish whole. In the other picture the same Heron turned, now you see blood from the stab wound of the Herons’ beak.
Camera used is a Sony A77II, Sony lens 70-400mm, ISO 800, 230MM, f7.1, AT 1/800 Sec. Location Lions Bridge, Newport News, VA 4/21/17.
I see a Barred Owl from the corner of my eye.
Is it stretching its wing or getting ready to fly?
With intense eyes, the owl stares.
I am concerned and a little scared.
I raise my camera and push the button.
Now I know this event will not be forgotten.
Photo and poem by Richard Smith
Camera used is a Sony A77II, Sony lens 70-400mm, ISO 3200, 400MM, F7.1, AT 1/1000 Sec.
I am a barred owl whose skill is to hunt.
Like night-light vision and soulful brown eyes,
I can search from high in a darken sky.
In a dash and swoop, my prey I confront.
By day, I rest and snooze within a tree.
If I’m awakened by an unknown sound
With eyes wide open, I look all around.
my head turns to all sides so I can see.
Photo and poem by me (Richard Smith)
Photo was taken with a Sony A77II, Sony lens 70-400mm, ISO 3200, 400mm, f/7.1, 1/1000 of a sec. Location: Nolan Trail, Newport News, VA 4/21/17
Spring is the birth for a new beginning.
Life starts from a passion of affection.
Pollination begins with life’s connection.
Plants bud, flowers bloom, and birds start singing.
Mating rituals start with a dance of love.
He sings his song to the one of his choice.
She beckons his calling with sounding voice.
A new generation they are thinking of.
Hurry! Hurry! We need to make this nest.
For I am with family can’t you see.
I will build this nest from the very best.
This is for you, me and the other three.
Babies nestled under their mother’s breast.
The fledglings were loved, nourished and had no need.
Photo and poem by me (R. Smith)
Photo was taken with a Sony A77II, Sony lens 70-400mm, ISO 800,
400mm, f/7.1, 1/1000 of a sec. Location: Lions bridge, Newport News, VA
At one time the Brown Pelicans were usually less common north of the Carolinas. Within the last few years it appears the Brown Pelicans are venturing into the Southeast Coast of Virginia. Today many Brown Pelicans are spotted in and around the estuary of the James River that empties into the Chesapeake Bay. The primary food source for the Brown Pelicans is Menhaden fish.
In 2012 the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission declared that the Atlantic Menhaden was depleted due to overfishing. The decision was driven by issues with water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and failing efforts to re-introduce predator species, due to lack of Menhaden on which they could feed.
With these site indicators, could this mean the Brown Pelicans have return more abundantly due to improved water quality and the Menhaden are more plentiful?
Photos and article by Richard Smith