My Favorite Critter Photos Of 2022
This was a weird year for nature photography for me. I didn’t get out as much as I had been because I felt like I was in a rut. I was going to because I felt that I had to. I wanted to go out because I wanted to go out.
This was a fun trip to Prophetstown early in the year. There is not a lot to photograph that early in the year, but seeing some mute swans were on the little pond I knew that I had to make the trip. A few years ago they got rid of the mute swans at the Celery Bog. To me they were the highlight of my trips out there. To someone though they were a pest that had to be disposed of. It was nice to make photos of swans again. Sometimes you are in a rut and you need a good outing to get you going. My friend Jen letting me know about this swan was just the kick that I needed at the right time. Surround yourself with good people and good things will happen.
The year at the Celery Bog started off with Ruby. Who else would it start with? I don’t think that we know if she is a male or female for sure yet, but she can mate as two little owls would show up with her later in the year. Here is some great light as only you can get in the winter.
It never is lost on me how lucky we are to get to watch bald eagles fish like we do. This year I didn’t get to see as much of it as in years past. It seems like conditions have to be right to get the large amounts of eagles that we have seen in the past. This year the little pond was frozen over for much of the winter so the fishing just wasn’t possible. Here was one of my favorite eagle images from the past year.
This was the year when I saw ducks fish for the first time. I have seen them eat greens in teh water before, but never grabbing fish. An icy Wabash River allowed me to get to see them fish up close and personal.
The small icebergs on the Wabash also allowed me to get as close to a wood duck as I have been. They are so busy dodging the ice and looking for fish that they didn’t notice me sitting on the bank. I kept my movements quiet to make sure that I had the best chance to see them that I could.
In the past the time around the Super Bowl for some reason was my best time to see eagles down at the river. This year I went down on a snowy day hoping for an eagle, but instead I had this gull that kept flying by. It is a nice photo, but this year I want an eagle in the frame.
A theme in my wildlife photography seems to be the things I saw while looking for something else. I was not expecting to see a kingfisher in February at the Celery Bog. I really was not expecting a close encounter with one. The thing that I always say though is that you make your own luck the more you go out. Here I had some luck on my side.
The backyard birds really take center stage in the winter. I can go out and make photos very quickly when I see something interesting. When it is snowing I make sure that I carve out some time for the backyard birds.
A grey screech owl meant a different kind of photo. I really liked how this one turned out. It was something different for a different bird in a familiar hole.
This year the pelicans came to the Celery Bog in force. So many meant many opportunities for photos. It also meant that I didn’t know where to point my camera at times. Here I saw a moment and swung over to get it. Their fishing style is not as photogenic as a heron, but they do have their moments. If they flip the fish it looks amazing. Here I lucked out and captured a flip.
This prothonotary warbler gave me a good look in April. I don’t see these birds very often, but here against the blue water it was the perfect time.
This northern parula photo is on here mainly because of the patience it took to get it. I waited and waited for it to keep coming down and get closer to me for quite a while. It finally did very close to me, and it was worth the wait.
When the warblers are in the redbud tree I had some fun this year wtih my compositions. Here I went a little wide to let more of the tree shine through. I go crazy for any kind of color in the spring after the long winter. I can’t wait for the buds to come out again this spring.
This year a family of foxes in a local park were an amazing attraction. I tried to give them space, but I did make a couple of trips out there. Here a little one looks right at my camera with a fresh catch. It was fun seeing how they relied on their mother so much early on, but then quickly picked up on the hunting thing.
You know that you are in the woods too much when the animals start waving at you as you walk through.
I thought that this sandpiper was crazy for trying to eat a bee. It took it down no problem though. I was out there to watch herons feast, but this was a good photo to make while waiting.
In the past I had so many photos to choose from of herons flipping fish. This year it came down to basically one fish that had a good couple of hours fishing. I did make a photo that I really liked though.
Last year the green herons seemed to be everywhere in the summer. This year though I only really had one encounter with them. It was a good one though that allowed me to make this portrait of one.
Here a hummingbird gives a quick critique on my photography. This year I was late to the party with the hummingbirds, but in the end I made some photos of them that I really liked. Once a pair found my feeder they were super cooperative and seemed to not care that I was out back with a big camera.
This tufted titmouse came very close to me allowing me to make a nice photo of it. I even thought that it was smiling at me. I will sometimes talk to the birds and tell them that they will appear on the blog if they cooperate. I don’t think this one came in because of that though.
The great egret is a fun bird to photograph with a little backlight. It allows you to see the wing structure that allows them to fly. Here I also had a darker background which always makes for a fun photo.
This was the year of the backyard bird portrait. Here are a few of my favorites.
A little patience with a nice background allowed me to make this photo of a yellow-rumped warbler with a fiery background. I saw a couple of perches that could work in the great light, and I just waited until something landed in the right spot.
On the day that I made this photo I was not thinking of wildlife photography. I went out with more forest photography in mind. I did bring a longer lens just in case. There is something about the bird flying in front of the moon that I liked.
While out driving in the country this flock of birds just kept landing a few feet in front of my car. The light was beautiful so I made a deal with them. If one would pose for me on the wire I would leave them alone. The deal was accepted and I made this photo.
While making landscape photos on campus this hawk flew down out from one of the buildings and just smacked into a tree right next to me. At first I thought that it must have been hurt, but then I realized that it had grabbed a squirrel. I came out of the tree and let me make a couple of photos of it with my 24-105mm lens. It was an unexpected event, but a fun one.
Although not really wildlife this was my first trip to Wolf Park in nearly five years. I messed up years ago and went inside the fence with them. Ever since that time I have been spoiled and waiting to go back in with them. Here a girl scout outing let me get back into the park and remember why I loved it so much. So much of my early learning in photography happened at Wolf Park.
My year at the Celery Bog started and ended with Ruby. It has been like that for the last few years. Here she tries to stay warm in her tree cavity as the temperatures were just starting to hit single digits again. The wind chill was still around twenty below, but where she was standing I think that most of the wind was missing her.
That is my year with the critters. I didn’t have the reps in this year that I normally do, but I managed to see some great things. I am writing this in mid-December and thinking that hopefully I have already made a killer photo in 2023 already. I am ever the optimist so I will say that I already have. You are going to love seeing it. Unless of course you already did then maybe you loved seeing it. Of course art is subjective so maybe you didn’t like the photo at all. Well I loved making it and that is what really counts. Here is to a great year of birding in 2023.