What the Red-Bellied Woodpecker said

While I was leaving Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary at 5pm, I witnessed a dramatic ambush. A Red-Shouldered Hawk swooped into the woods and nearly took out a quick moving Red-Bellied woodpecker. As the hawk flew in and just as quickly flew away, the woodpecker, traumatized by its near-death experience, shrieked and jumped around frantically for several minutes. I recognized the behavior as a way of communicating, “HOLY —-. That hawk almost KILLED me!!!”

#woodpecker, #birdphotography, #redbelliedwoodpecker, #prey, #survival, #tree, #treeclinging, #bird, #outdoorphotography, #naturephotography, #corkscrew,
Red-Bellied Woodpecker has just survived an ambush by a Red-Shouldered Hawk in Naples, FL, 2020. Observing wildlife behavior is always a learning experience.

I set up my tripod as quickly as I could and made some images of the woodpecker as he momentarily rested on the trunk of this tree. When I got home to examine my photos, I was able to identify the type of bird he was. While the hawk’s behavior is part of Nature’s food chain, I could relate to the anxiety of the little woodpecker. That was one scary experience!

Mother and Child: Great Horned Owls

I identify myself as a mother more than any other role, so a glimpse of mother and child in the animal kingdom is a moment with special resonance for me. While photographing this majestic Great Horned Owl, I noticed something fuzzy moving near the owl. Hmmm. I kept my finger on the camera trigger, hoping to capture a moment when the owlet would peer over the edge of the nest.

#greathornedowl, #owl, #motherandchild, #owlandowlet, #owlet, #nest, #owlnest, #parentchild, #wildlife, #nature, #birdphotography
Looking like a cuddly stuffed animal, the owlet shows us its head and eyes for a hot second, while mother owl keeps a protective eye out for any predators.

Remember the expression, “Mothers need eyes in the back of their heads?” I think mother owl would agree, as she keeps one eye on my dog Sophie.

Kauai Revisited

The first time I visited Kauai, I flew in for a memorable photography workshop, and my daughter Erin met me there. The next time I visit Kauai, my daughter Erin will be leading me there to make some epic new memories — at her wedding.

As our family books flights and accommodations and looks forward to the big day, I took a look back at my 2014 photos of Kauai. Here is a waterfall image from the “Garden Isle” of Hawaii.

#kauai, #waterfall, #gardenisle, #lush, #hawaii, #photography, #nature, #wilderness, #wedding
You can see why Kauai is called the garden isle. It is not hard to find lush wilderness here.

Surely, our second visit to Kauai in July will offer many new photo opportunities on this beautiful Hawaiian island.

What Will 2020 Bring?

This month we start a new year of sharing our creativity and goodness with each other. Today I took a nature walk in the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, Florida, hoping to see the world in a new way and make some new images with my camera.

When I spotted a newly unfurling fern, I thought, “What a perfect way to say Happy New Year.” The fern is as ancient as the dinosaurs*, yet today this new frond showed me the delicate shapes of new life: the unfurling spiral. In New Zealand I learned that the spiral of a new fern, the “koru,” is a symbol of eternity — as it combines the very old and the newest forms of life.

fern, koru, eternity, beginning, plant, new zealand, florida, nature, ancient, new
The fern as a plant species goes back more than 40 million years. Yet today, this individual fern regenerates. Do you see the unfurling spiral? Known as the “koru,” in New Zealand, it symbolizes eternity.

Today, my new year’s wish for you is to hold fast to the wisdom of the past generations, while you use your energy to create bold new connections, relationships and improvements. You can do it!

  • Most modern ferns are descended from the ferns that coexisted with the dinosaurs 40-50 million years ago. The first ferns appeared on Earth 360 million years ago.

Thank you, America

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans! What a beautiful holiday that brings families together to give thanks. I feel very thankful for my family, my wide and wonderful network of great friends and for this beautiful country where we live in peace and prosperity. Certainly we must pray for peace and prosperity for all people around the world today.

I want to share with you this scene we discovered on a vibrant autumnal afternoon in western New York. My family enjoyed our first visit to Letchworth State Park at the height of fall foliage. How fortunate we were to arrive at this waterfall in the late afternoon.

Most of the time I plan my photo shoots: time of year, time of day. This visit to Letchworth State Park in western New York was serendipitous. Good karma circling back to me during a visit to in-laws.

All You Need Is Love

This child is blessed with a loving family. Grandpa showed us how he feels.

On Sunday I shot 26 family portraits as a volunteer for a Pittsburgh school for children with disabilities. To protect their privacy, we will keep the names of the school and the family private. This portrait was my favorite, thanks to the loving gesture of the grandfather. As you reflect on the smiles on the parents’ faces, you can tell they are counting their blessings too. These families give me a gift every year, by showing me where true happiness comes from.