Best Bird Photos of 2021

Roseate Spoonbill, Platalea ajaja

I’ve started, and then abandoned several blog postings in the last two months; life intervened. But now I find it’s time for the year-end summary of the year’s photos. I was going to write about seeing the amazing Tropical Kingbird near here in the Maryland wetlands, thousands of miles north of its usual haunt. Actually it was spotted from my backseat by the non-birder, Cora and photographed by her husband, Clyde, with his cell phone as I was showing off the scenery of the Blackwater NWR to these visitors from Arizona.

Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis
Carolina wren, Thryothorus ludovicianus
Tricolor Heron, Egretta tricolor
Red-bellied Woodpecker, Melanerpes carolinus

I meant to write about the recent excursion to the Dinner Ranch with Andy and Mel in remote southern Florida, far from the populated coast, and our sighting of 40+ species (depending on who’s counting) including those of the omni-present singing Meadowlarks.

Eastern Meadowlark, Sturnella magna
Sandhill Cranes, Grus canadensis
Common Gallinule, Gallinula chloropus

Or I could have written about my reluctant conversion to a mirrorless camera, leaving behind the heavier but reliable Canon DSLR. I’m increasingly using a Pansonic Lumix G9 camera which has a small 4/3’s sensor and an array of lighter lenses. The reduced weight will be welcome on the 13-day trip to Costa Rica we’re planning this spring.

Crested Caracara, Caracara cheriway
Great Egret, Ardea alba
Anhinga, Anhinga anhinga
Grooved-billed Ani, Crotophaga sulcirostris

I’ve been having this debate with myself; when does one have enough bird photos? How many shots of fishing Osprey, diving Pelicans, or singing Meadowlarks is enough? Maybe it’s time to bird without a camera, enjoying the view through the binoculars without worrying about the sun angle, camera settings, and obtaining the perfect shot. This debate will go on, and may never conclude, but in the meantime these are my favorite photos from 2021.

Red-shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
Mottled Ducks, Anas fulvigula
Belted Kingfisher, Ceryle alcyon
Black-crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax

One last triumph to end the year. Two nemesis birds, which did their best to evade me over the years, finally succumbed to my persistence, or more likely, just dumb luck. One was that Mangrove Cuckoo which we saw at Ding Darling on Sanibel Island, Florida, posing in plain sight and creating a traffic jam of grateful birders on the causeway.

Mangrove Cuckoo, Coccyzus minor
Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
American Kestrel, Falco sparverius
Eastern Phoebe, Sayornis phoebe

The other was the Snowy Owl spotted just this week on the dilapidated lighthouse in the Choptank River, off Cambridge, Maryland. My daughter sent me a stuffed Snowy Owl last Christmas, commiserating with my fruitless efforts to see this bird, but I can now return the gift to her. I almost gave up on seeing the bird that was reported on eBird along the Cambridge waterfront, when I noted a small white lump on the side of the lighthouse, about 3/4 mile offshore. A scope and heavily cropped picture below certifies the sighting to the left of the “danger” sign. The picture does not really qualify as great, or even good, but I include it to celebrate this great ending to another year.

Snowy Owl, Bubo scandiacus
Reddish Egrets, Egretta rufescens

I admit to some birding fatigue as the year winds down and as the new hobby of astrophotography takes root, but that Snowy Owl, the celebrating Reddish Egrets above, and the upcoming Christmas Bird Count have revived my enthusiasm once again. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.

12 thoughts on “Best Bird Photos of 2021

  1. It is wonderful to see your photographs, something I always look forward to! While I empathise with the difficulty of allocating time to blogging about the birds you photographs so well along with your new hobby of astrophotography, I say emphatically that you can never have too many pictures of birds. Perhaps your birding fatigue comes about from having too many ‘perfect’ pictures of birds. By all means watch birds for the fun of it; perhaps even leave your really smart and heavy equipment behind; but please keep introducing us to the birds you see and keep us abreast of their actions. Your action pictures and delightful narratives are an inspiration for novices like me! I hope you and your family will be able to enjoy a wonderful festive season.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You have a way of capturing the majesty of nature and you are a pretty good story teller. Thanks for all your postings! Merry merry to you and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Warmer regards from Maryland where it is 39 degrees. I spent all day outside for the Christmas Bird Count and am longing for the heat of Florida. However, must still endure a trip to NE before heading south. Actually, Christmas in New England has a romantic flavor to it and time with family is still precious, even at those temperatures. See you all soon.


  3. Thank you so much for sharing this incredible collection of beautiful 2021 bird photos! As I scrolled through, I could hardly decide which I liked more than the next. They are all a treat to the viewer. Interesting how many of your collection are birds that I also especially love! Congrats on seeing the snowy owl and this cuckoo – what a thrill!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you very much for your kind comment. You pointed out something that I had not stumbled to; that many of my favorite pictures are of Florida birds. This is true even though I spend more of each year in Maryland. It may be because the waders are easier to photograph. They hold still and you can get closer, as you know. I also enjoy seeing your pictures of these same birds.


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