My Twenty Favorite Wildlife Photos Of 2020
This was a year where I travelled far less and made far fewer wildlife photos outside of the Celery Bog. I still had some fun making photos though and I always enjoy putting these lists together. This year I hope for more owl photos. 2020 was supposed to be a year where I went to see more owls. I was going to make a point of it. I lucked into an owl at the Celery Bog, but that was it.
20. This year began and ended with a cooper’s hawk. On New Year’s Day I made the top photo of the hawk sitting on my fence looking for some birds to eat at my feeders. I made the bottom photo nearly a year later of a hawk on the fence doing the same thing. I thought the hawk on New Year’s Day was a good omen. Who knew how the year would turn out.
19. I have seen a few kestrels, but never anywhere near up close. One day while walking around Prophetstown I saw this one hunting. It was working my area so I just stayed right where I was knowing that it could come near me. It did land on this post as close as I have ever been to one. It is not my best photo ever, but I finally made a half decent photo of a kestrel.
18. This great egret was on the back pond fishing very close to me. I used to have a cool downed tree as a chair that allowed me a full view of the pond. Of course when people started coming out to the bog that downed tree ended up thrown into the water. This was still a good place photograph from though.
17. These two tree swallows seemed to wonder why their new home was of such interest to me. Of course it was the fact that they were there that made it interesting.
16. The Cape May Warbler is a beautiful bird that always looks good to the camera. With a nice blue sky background though it looks even better.
15. Sometimes you have to wonder if you are annoying the wildlife. This photo proves that maybe I am from time to time. I was talking to this squirrel about my problems and then it started doing this. I guess it was done hearing my story.
14. This photo is special for a couple of reasons. One is that I love how these birds look against the blue water. The second is that it was the second to last day that I saw this bird alive. There used to be five mute swans at the bog. Then one winter it was down to one. Shortly after this I photographed the bird curled up on the ice and then later that day it tried to fly away and was hit by a vehicle. I know that they are invasive, but they are fun to photograph. Hopefully another one makes the bog its home this year.
13. This photo is why you don’t hold information from other photographers. I have tried to be as upfront as I could be with people who ask what I have seen. I say that because I don’t always know what I have seen. Sometimes I find out when I get hoe and I can study the photo better. Here a photographer that I trade tips with told me about this hole. When I walked back through the woods I looked at the hole and sure enough there were two eyes looking back at me. I would never have known about this spot unless he told me.
12. This scarlet tanager was fun to follow and photograph. I kept waiting for a good perch, and then I was lucky enough to get this one. I was not birding much at the time so it was a fun find for me.
11. This cedar waxwing flew onto a branch right in front of me and posed one day. I couldn’t believe my luck. Normally I see them against a gray sky or something like that. To have one land down low with a great background was a treat.
10. I had some luck this year making reflection photos of the spotted sandpiper. They end up like this often so you just need a place to get low and being okay with getting dirty. My wife doesn’t always like it when I come home with bog muck on me, but it is worth it to make the photo.
9. I like a nuthatch with food photo. Here are two that I liked from this year. I will be honest that I do not head out to the bog looking for these birds. They provide a nice photo though that you don’t expect to make.
8. Speaking of food in the mouth here is a red-bellied woodpecker with a nice meal. I was walking out of the woods when I saw this bird eating. I got low and waited for it to look up after digging into a downed log. I really got lucky here.
7. This great egret gave me a great pass by with a nice sky. There were two of them fishing on the other side of the pond when I first saw them. I was going to go over and have a closer look, but I saw some photographers trampling through the woods to get closer to them. I knew they would flush, and it made sense that they would come my way. I sat down on the bench and waited for it. Sure enough they got too close and the birds came my way. I hate that they were flushed, but it did make for a nice photo.
6. Two hummingbirds at two different places. The top photo was made at the Celery Bog this past summer. The bottom photo was made in my backyard this past spring. This hummingbird came to the house a few nights in a row using my feeder. I put a chair out back and just waited for it to land on this stick with the beautiful sky as my background. I am sure my neighbors think that I am crazy sitting in the yard with a huge lens just waiting. At this point they are probably use to it.
5. This photo was worth waking up early for. I was at the bog at first light in the summer. That takes a lot of willpower for me. I love to stay up late and sleep in. Getting up early is not my favorite. When you can capture a green heron getting a meal in the early morning light though it is worth it.
4. This caspian tern was only at the bog for one day that I knew of. I went there to photograph warblers, and then quickly switched to making bird in flight photos when I saw these birds feeding. I don’t see them often so it was a nice surprise.
3. As I said in my warbler post a lot had to come together to make this photo. I watched this bird for a while hoping to get it against the blue sky. I was surprised when it flew closer and let me make this photo. As always when the bird does what I hope it will I moved on and left it alone.
2. I love a good photo of a heron eating. I made the top photo at the Celery Bog as a heron made a nice catch in the back pond. That photo took a lot of patience and luck that the heron was near me. The second photo was lucky in that I walked up to the pond and this heron was not too far away from hiding in the tall grass. When we spotted each other I thought that it would move farther away from me. It actually came closer to the point I wondered if it was coming after me. It decided to go to the water and pull this fish out instead. When it did its back was to me, but it turned around so I could make my photo. As always I made my photos and let it eat in peace. It was nice enough to pose so why not be kind right back?
- This has to be number one on this countdown. Two years ago I walked the woods over and over trying to find this hole. I saw an amazing photo that another local photographer Dan Miller had made. By the time I found the hole the owl was gone. For two years I looked at the hole every time that I walked by it. They one day the owl was back in the hole. This is number one because I finally saw the owl again.