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.
Great Blue Heron contemplating its move. As a Heron, balance is tricky. I had this itch that needed immediate attention. My frustration is having an itch I can’t scratch. I was concern I’d make a fool of myself. After all we are known for gracefulness. I was happy to satisfy this itch and still stand respectfully.
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
I swoop and dive into the river James.
Out from the shallow water’s a fish I retain.
My young juveniles with open beaks awaits me.
I nourish them with fish I caught by the talons of my feet.
Pictured taken from a Sony A77II, Sony lens 70–400mm,
1/1250 sec., at f5.6, ISO 400, 360mm
Great Blue Heron
This is an amazing bird. The great blue heron walks ever so cautiously through the water. Each step is placed like it is walking on thin ice. Not a ripple is made as it makes its way through the water. Near the edge of the water a fallen tree lies, the branches hang out over the water. With the help of the bird’s massive wings, the heron leaps onto a branch. When its wings are spread out, this giant of a bird appears like a pre historic bird. Now, on the limb, it stands motionless like a bluish, grey statue. The great blue is a territorial bird. Always aware of its surrounding, his head with its long sword like beak turns ever so slowly. It appears to be a passive bird. But, if something should invade its territory it will let out a horrific screech of a sound; with its large flapping wings and the sword like beak charging after you is enough to make the invader seek another place. Most of the time he is a very slow moving bird, except when he is catching a fish. When he spots the fish, he dives into the water like a bolt of lighting and with a great splash comes out of the water with its catch.
Photo by: Richard Smith
For me this is a rare photo capture to see an owl drinking water. As well as it blended in with the surrounding area, I almost missed this shot. I only found it by luck.
The barred owl is a large typical owl native to North America. Best known as the hoot owl for its distinctive call.
Hope you all enjoy!!! May you have a great day.
April, the month the ospreys arrive from their winter range to begin the cycle of life. I captured the below photo in Newport News, VA at the spillway where Lake Maury overflows into the James River. Two hours before high tide the ospreys flock near the spillway to capture their bountiful food of herring, shad and other bait fish. As the tide moves in, the fish swim through the spillway into Lake Maury. In a tight circle, the osprey flies about 10 to 30 feet above the water’s surface. When the osprey spots its prey, it does an aerial dance. Its wings flutter to hold its position from the winds current. The ospreys yellow eyes are intense on its prey. With its wings folded it dives into the water. Within seconds the osprey swoops out of the water with a fish snagged in its talons.
Written and photographed by: Richard Smith