Great Egret

My family spent Thanksgiving week in Ormond Beach, Florida, and since my youngest son is a budding ornithologist, we spent a lot of time searching for birds. (He has turned us all into birders.) They weren’t hard to find, though. On the beach, the birds were accustomed to humans, and we were able to get quite close. Here are a few of my favorite photos from the trip.

Great Egret with two sanderlings and a willet in the background.

We passed by groups of gulls and terns sitting together on the beach. We mostly saw ring-billed and laughing gulls.

Mostly laughing gulls, we think.

Ring-billed gull with friends.

Sanderlings flying low over the surf.

Sanderlings in the sunrise.

The sanderlings were our favorite birds to watch. They are so cute running back and forth in the surf.

Snowy Egret

Laughing gulls and Royal Terns. We think they grouped together to protect themselves from the wind.

I will miss passing by the birds on our walks down the beach.

No birds this time. Just the sunrise over Ormond Beach.

While we were there, we also spotted osprey hunting in the ocean, anhingas, a great blue heron, white ibis, double-crested cormorants, brown pelicans, ruddy turnstones, turkey vultures and black vultures, common pigeons, common grackles, American crow, tricolored heron, belted kingfisher, little blue heron, a yellow-bellied woodpecker and spotted sandpipers.

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I’m happy to introduce Grace Adeline, a new member of Elaine’s household. Elaine hired me six years ago to photograph Grace’s predecessor, Nellie. (Click here to view those photos.) These dogs are Great Pyrenees, and they are gorgeous. Elaine trains them to become therapy dogs, and they help children learn how to read.

Grace Adeline is all puppy right now, but she has a sweet and calm disposition. She was curious about everything and everyone. She never fussed about getting her photos taken, although I did have to use a fast shutter speed!

Elaine has been kind enough to let me share her entire gallery with you. Click here, if you would like to view that.

These photos were taken at the beautiful William Harris Homestead.

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Six years ago, I had the privilege of taking photographs of a beautiful Great Pyrenees named Nellie. She was an animal very dear to the heart of her owner, and she was also a dog who worked as a therapy dog. She helped young children struggling to learn how to read. Sadly, she passed away a few months ago.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of taking photographs of her successor, Grace Adeline. Grace is also going to train to become a therapy dog. I’m going to share more photographs with you soon, but I wanted to share this one first. It’s one of my favorites. This is Grace and her owner, Elaine.

Thank you, Elaine. It’s a high compliment for me to have a repeat customer!

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Earlier this week, I took a walk on a trail while my kids were at their homeschool class at the botanical garden. It’s been about twenty years since I’ve walked alone on this trail — my favorite trail. I used to walk here alone quite frequently. How I’ve missed it.

But I don’t think I’ve ever walked on it during the middle of winter when it was 30 degrees Fahrenheit outside!

Part of the stream was ice.

All around me were different shades of brown. Brown is beautiful, I think.

Despite the cold, I passed quite a few joggers and other people walking. I think this time of year more than ever, people need nature. Don’t you agree?

This did not hinder this mother’s magical moment of being alone. The trails at the botanical garden are always peaceful.

There’s always that happy thrill when I reach the river and listen to its soft current rippling and sliding by.

The birds were not deterred by the cold either. I saw a phoebe, some kind of sparrow with two black stripes on its head, a Carolina wren, cardinal, and others that were too far away and fast for me to identify.

Luckily, in the last minute dash to get out the door on time that morning, I thought about bringing my camera. I’m so glad I did.


We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depended on it.
Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away. ~ Zhuangzi

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Sarracenia leucophylla or white-topped pitcher plant. A carnivorous plant native to the southeastern United States. And grown by my son.


Nature does not always conform to our predispositions and preferences, to what we deem comfortable and easy to understand. — Carl Sagan


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It is not in life, but in art that self-fulfillment is to be found. — Wilson Mizner


I have seen mallard ducks before. Many people have.

But when you have a little boy who is crazy about birds, especially ducks…

And you are with him when he sees them in the wild for the first time…

Suddenly a duck takes on a new meaning.

It’s thrilling to see…

A family of ducks.

I don’t know why I didn’t realize it before.

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We’ve had too much rain here lately, which has made it hard to hit the trails at our favorite parks lately. But yesterday I finally got out into the yard for a “walk about.” Sometimes it feels good to just explore this small piece of woods we own. There are always delightful things to be found, and I’m going to share what I found with you. I got to capture the beautiful autumn foliage we’re having this year, and a few blooms that I usually see in the spring surprised me too.

You never know what you might spy in your own backyard.

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We’ve been seeing a few monarchs who are passing through this area on their way to Mexico where they stay for the winter. If you’d like to learn more about these amazing creatures, you can read my column about Fall Migration.

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