This Five-Lined Skink frequently hangs out near the gap in this brick wall. I see it quite regularly and was able to get close enough to take a few good photographs. Five-Lined Skinks are common in Central Virginia. You can usually find them on old logs or on rock piles. They never seem to stray far from good hiding places.
When I first saw this Rat Snake it was on the ground, just a few yard ahead of me on a small, little used, lakeside trail. I turned, took a few steps back, dropped my backback and got my camera ready. When I turned back around it was gone. In a matter of seconds it had disappeared into the forest. “Oh well,” I thought, “that’s how they survive.”
I remained in the area to photograph some other things. When I was getting ready to leave I noticed the snake had climbed a nearby tree and was just relaxing there. Of course I approached, camera in hand. As I got close, the snake showed its typical Rat Snake attitude by coming straight toward me. When it was about 3 or 4 yards away, it struck this classic “don’t come any closer” pose. It remained that way until I backed off. At which point it turned around and went the other way. Rat Snakes are not venomous but they definitely show no fear. Every time I’ve encountered one up close, they have come toward me, almost daring me to see how close they will get.
This group of roses was one of those small scenes I just couldn’t resist photographing. The composition probably breaks all the rules but I like it just the way it is. To me the three roses in the background on the left seem balanced by the larger, fully blooming rose in the foreground and the opening bud in the upper right.
The dark green leaves of the rose bush are riddled with insect damage. Some photographers might be temped to “repair” them during processing but I like the imperfection of the scene. It reminds me that, upon close inspection, even the beautiful things in life are not perfect.
This Pearl Crescent butterfly rests peacefully in a bed of white and yellow flowers. According to “An Instant Guide to Butterflies” by Pamela Forey and Cecilia Fitzsimons, male Pearl Crescents patrol their territory and will fly at other butterflies and insects.
I’ve been experimenting with photographing hummingbirds as they fly to our feeder. It’s quite an exercise in patience. This little female comes regularly but sometimes it’s 15-20 minutes between her visits. I captured this image recently after waiting for about 45 minutes. It was her third visit but the only one with sharp enough focus and good enough lighting to share.
In past years I’ve noticed the hummingbirds come more frequently later in the summer. Perhaps there are simply more of them after they’ve raised a brood or two? Or maybe there are just fewer feeding options for them? Whatever the cause, I’m hoping to get more images before they migrate south for the winter.
The cardinal is the state bird of Virginia and there are plenty around. They can be tough to photograph because they never seem to allow people to get very close and they tend to move quite a bit. As I was photographing a landscape I heard the easily identifiable chirp of a cardinal and noticed this male watching me from a nearby tree. He stayed put long enough for me to take several photos before flying away.