Crafty Cardinals

Posted on February 11, 2010


This morning my goal was to capture a shot of a beautiful cardinal. My journey began at Sandy Bottom Nature Park where I walked carefully through the park, eyes peeled for anything red amidst the brown and orange of the woodlands. I managed to spot only one cardinal in the almost three hour search! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a picture of him because he flew away the moment I lurked around the tree of which he happened to be hiding behind. Having no luck at Sandy Bottoms, I decided to try Newport News Park. It was a lot different than Sandy Bottoms, and had a larger variety of wildlife than what I saw at the other park. There were two beautiful swans, at least eight ducks, a woodpecker, several little gray finch-like birds, dozens of gray squirrels… I also managed to spot a little deer on my way out.

After almost four hours of trying to take the perfect picture of a Cardinal, I decided it was time to give up and make due with what I had (a few pictures that I didn’t particularly care for because of the tree branches that were in the way of the Cardinal). Just before leaving the park, I spotted a tree that was ideal for Cardinals and decided to pull over at the visitor’s center and walk over into the woods. Today I can say one thing for sure – Cardinals are a beautiful but shy bird!  Unlike the little gray birds I had walked among earlier, the pair of red birds I had stumbled upon were much more edgy as I advanced ever so slowly towards them. They took cover among the branches of the Holly Tree the moment they caught on to my approach. However, with a lot of patience, I managed to snap a few pictures of the Cardinals without leaves and branches hiding their bodies!

My goal for today was quite a challenge, but I really enjoyed the time spent among the birds and squirrels at Newport News Park. The people inside the visitor’s center were very friendly and told me a lot of neat things about the park. They even provided me a few newspaper articles and details on events that would be great photo opportunities. One of them in particular has interested me – the bird walks every first and third sunday of the month. The bird walks are organized by the Hampton Roads Bird Club, who have monitored the bird population in Newport News Park since 1965. Last weeks bird walk was cancelled due to the weather, so they are having one this weekend instead. New comers are welcome, so I’m thinking about participating.  It would not only be a great photo opportunity, but would also be very educational in the field of birds.  I could learn more about all kinds of birds – their species, what they eat, what attracts them, where they nest, when they are most often spotted… I had so much fun today with the Cardinals and the little finch-like birds that I think I would really enjoy bird watching as much as I enjoy taking pictures of them! Also I would really like to find out what type of birds the little gray ones were that I spotted today…