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.
Have you ever walked through the woods on a cloudy night? Strange sounds that screech like finger nails scraping against a chalk board or the dried leaves and twigs snapping under foot, my eyes are blinded from the pitch black darkness. Not a twinkling of light shows through the forest canopy.
Panic enters the mind. I walk with soft tiny steps to feel each little stone or root. My steps quicken then something springs up and hits my leg, it is a stick big enough to use as a blind man’s cane.
On the darkened path a pair of red beady eyes stare at me. All I see are those horrific eyes without face or form. I fall to my knees, my hands cup my face tears stream down my cheeks. I am lost with no one to help me. I cry out. “My God, my God what evil lurks within this darkness.” “Help me, please help me.” I have no idea how long I laid there in a fetal position.
I open my eyes and rise to my feet. Up ahead I see a lighted path, at that moment a peace comes over me. It’s like how a baby feels a comfort and protection when it is in the arms of its’ parent. The lighted path is narrow and the way to it is hard. To journey cautiously in the woods at night, we need a light in order to avoid the pitfalls of the darkness. In this life we venture through a dark forest of evil, but God’s word can be our light to show us the way.
Are guided by the light on your path or road to keep you from stumbling and falling?
Could this be nature’s artistic wood sculpting or is it a reincarnated face that emerges from within the trunk of tree?
When I walk through the woods, at times strange faces and figures appear to emerge from within the trunk of trees. This face with its eyes popping out looks like it wants to escape from the clutches of the pine bark. During this photo capture, I could hear a distinct sound calling out WHO! WHO!! Only to my surprise it was a barred owl standing on a branch a few feet above this tree mirage.
Be cautious as you journey through the woods, you never know who or what is peeking out from within a tree.
American Goldfinch (Eastern Goldfinch)
If the Garden of Eden still existed, the American Goldfinch would be the species you’d find in God’s paradise. When I took this picture, it was a cloudy, grey day. This adult male Goldfinch brightened my outlook on the day with its dazzling yellow body. It seemed to spread happiness and joy as it flittered from plant to plant. I noticed the Goldfinches favor the yellow and orange flowered plants for their pick of seeds. It was of interest to watch these birds eat. With their conical beak, it makes it easy for them to remove the seeds from the seed heads of a sunflower, purple coneflower or thistle plant.
I captured this adult and juvenile barred owl along the Nolan trail in Newport News, VA. The perimeter of the Nolan trail surrounds Lake Maury; which is within a mature, mixed forest of large trees of hemlock, maple, oak, hickory, and beech. When I first spotted this fledging owl, it was roosted on the branch. Normally, an owl will sleep during the day and are not very active. But, this young guy was alert and constantly looking around. I figured it was waiting on its parent to come back. So I set up my tripod and camera and waited about two hours. Finally, out of nowhere, the adult owl appeared along side the juvenile owl. This was a great capture of a barred owl nurturing its young, the next generation of these beautiful birds.
Unlike human love, animals’ internal love appears natural. Humans make the power of love so difficult. Before God created man and woman, He created the animal kingdom. Maybe we are to learn from the animals. I see in this picture love, joy, kindness, compassion, and comfort.
By Richard Smith