Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Lightning strikes twice

with 32 comments

So there I was on March 2 heading home after a couple of hours photographing. I was driving on Bluegrass Dr., just as I’d done after a session on January 17, when my eye was caught once again by the bright red fruits of the possumhaw, Ilex decidua, planted on the lawn of a house in a cul-de-sac to my right. As before, I slowed to a stop, then backed up into the cul-de-sac. What appealed to me this time was that, like all the other possumhaws I’d been seeing around town, and even more than the one I showed on February 25, this one was already well on its way to full foliage.

And now for the lighting-strikes-twice part: sitting on a branch of the possumhaw, just like last time, was a mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos, and for all I know it was the same one I photographed on January 17. Repeating what I did last time, I switched to my longest lens and took pictures of the mockingbird, which didn’t mind my presence at all, nor, I think, would it mind your vicarious presence now.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 12, 2012 at 5:26 AM

32 Responses

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  1. So beautiful!


    March 12, 2012 at 5:31 AM

    • Thanks, Laura. Happy spring! (I’m sorry for the late posting of your comment: WordPress messed up and sent it to the spam folder.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 15, 2012 at 10:29 PM

  2. It’s clearly enjoying the attention! Beautiful colours with that blue blue sky in the background.


    March 12, 2012 at 5:36 AM

    • I can’t vouch for the attention, but it was enjoying the little red fruits, of which it swallowed three while I was there. (When it did that, it ducked down in such a way that branches blocked my view and I couldn’t photograph the act. Too bad.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 12, 2012 at 6:48 AM

  3. What a very wonderful picture! 🙂


    March 12, 2012 at 5:51 AM

    • Thanks, Bente. May it be a herald of spring for you, even if you had snow in Norway the other day.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 12, 2012 at 6:50 AM

  4. I have a pair of mocking birds that are currently feeding on the red holly berries in my garden. I work in the under as they feed. I love that they are unafraid and do not fly away!

    Bonnie Michelle

    March 12, 2012 at 6:44 AM

    • So yours and mine are unafraid (I wonder if they all are). It’s good that you have two: twice the chances for a picture, if you’re so inclined.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 12, 2012 at 6:53 AM

  5. This is beautiful. I love the natural framing on the bird! Mockingbirds are territorial, so this could very likely be the same one!


    March 12, 2012 at 6:54 AM

    • Yes, the framing worked out nicely here. The branches obliged me that way in most of the pictures from this session with the mockingbird.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 12, 2012 at 6:58 AM

  6. What a shot. All your followers are lucky we found you. Keep shooting and telling your stories.


    March 12, 2012 at 7:29 AM

  7. What a pretty mockingbird all framed with the red berries.

    laveta segura

    March 12, 2012 at 9:26 AM

  8. Beautiful picture, would look great on my wall. 🙂

  9. Oh, and do I know that “switching to the long lens” gambit–have missed many a bird betwixt and between, so it’s even more of a pleasure to see that you caught it, and so beautifully, as always!

    Susan Scheid

    March 12, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    • Ah, commiseration from another veteran of the lens-switching gambit. Many other types of birds would have been wary enough to fly away, but apparently not mockingbirds. I was careful, though, after opening my car door to get to my camera bag and change lenses, not to shut the door, because I didn’t want to make any noise and risk scaring off the bird. Like you, I haven’t always been so fortunate, and I’ve missed my share of pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 12, 2012 at 10:57 AM

  10. I like the way the gray limbs make it seem as though the bird “belongs” there. The vibrant green, red and blue might have been a bit much by themselves, but the gray softens the effect.

    I finally have tempted a mockingbird to my balcony with raisins. Now, with apple added to the mix, I’m hoping to keep her coming back – and perhaps bring babies. They are “people” birds. I sit right here by the window and talk to her when she comes by, and she doesn’t seem to mind at all.


    March 12, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    • Although the vibrant colors were what first caught my eye and made me back up to take pictures, I like your take on the gray mitigating the scene and making it seem as though the bird belongs there.

      Good luck with your mockingbird family. Commenters have been making me aware that mockingbirds are “people” birds, but I had no idea that people foods like raisins and apple appeal to them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 12, 2012 at 11:56 AM

  11. This is superb! Everything about it is perfect! I agree with the comments above about the perfect framing. Being in the right place at the right time also helps!

    Michael Glover

    March 12, 2012 at 9:07 PM

    • Thanks, Michael. The way the event happened twice to me was serendipitous. I’ve often thought that if I keep putting myself out there often enough, good things will happen.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 12, 2012 at 10:16 PM

  12. Very pretty. I love mockingbirds and we have a ton of them. This looks almost like a pyracantha (which we also have in my yard).


    March 12, 2012 at 10:08 PM

    • I grew up with pyracanthas in my town in New York; people often trimmed them as hedges there, but the possumhaws in Texas are real trees.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 12, 2012 at 10:18 PM

  13. Hi Steve .. what a lovely name possumhaws for a tree .. and then that Mockingbird – amazing picture – like you I love the berries and early clean foliage .. fantastic to see – thank you .. Hilary


    March 13, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    • You’re welcome, Hilary. The haw in possumhaw is the same one in hawthorn; it’s probably related to the word hedge. The mockingbird, which was neither related to me nor mocking me, was a bonus.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 13, 2012 at 12:01 PM

  14. Hi Steve

    You have really raised the bird on a branch photo to another level, the striking colour of the sky and the vibrant bright berries really frame the Mockingbird beautifully.

    Thanks for sharing.


    March 13, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    • Everything worked together in this picture, so I felt fortunate to have been there at the right time. I’m primarily a plant photographer, but once in a while I luck out with a bird. This was one of those times.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 13, 2012 at 12:23 PM

  15. This is really beautiful, perfect composition.


    March 18, 2012 at 12:49 PM

  16. indeed. 🙂


    January 29, 2013 at 1:49 PM

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