Thursday, August 28, 2014

It's Not Just About the Birds

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
Tricolored Heron
I got into birding through my love of nature photography. After moving to Florida birds became my chief photographic subject. I fell in love with their beauty as well as the challenge of learning to find and identify them.  To this day, when I go out into nature, my top priorities are birding and bird photography.  But over the last few years, I've also become fascinated with other forms of wildlife that I sometimes encounter while birding.  I'm still a bit of a novice at non-bird wildlife, but at risk of deviating too far off this blogs topic of the fun of birding, I thought I'd share a little bit of the non-bird wildlife I've been enjoying learning about.

I love butterflies.  Especially when the birding is slow, it's fun to see what may be fluttering about. At first my process was to photograph first and then consult field guides later.  Recently, though, I discovered a wonderful website,  It's the butterfly equivalent of eBird, and it has encouraged me to learn more about butterflies.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
Zebra Swallowtail
Orlando Wetlands Park
Zebra Longwing
Dragonflies have been a bigger challenge for me.  Thankfully, there's a wonderful site called You can record your sightings, but there is also a section to help you identify dragonflies and damselfles.

Merritt Island NWR
Marl Pennant
Merritt Island NWR
Seaside Dragonlet
Lower Wekiva River Preserve
Halloween Pennant
By far my favorite website for insects is  They have a fantastic online guide to help you identify just about any bug you might find in the U.S.  And even better, you can submit photographs for identification.  This allowed me to find out that the digger wasp in the photo below is of the species Sphex jamaicensis.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
Digger Wasp with Katydid
It's not hard to distract me from birding for a few minutes at the sight of a turtle. They are fascinating creatures.  To help me learn how to identify turtles, I've been making use of and

Hal Scott Preserve
Gopher Tortoise
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
Peninsula Cooter
There's another website that I've found helpful for lizards. It's called My personal favorites are the Five-lined Skink and Six-lined Racerunner.

Oviedo, FL
Five-lined Skink
Hal Scott Preserve
Six-lined Racerunner
There are also some wonderful mammals to see. A good site for mammals is

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
River Otter


  1. I think most birders are happy to learn a bit more about the other wildlife they see when out and about. You do have some beautiful butterflies in the U.S. I guess most of the sites you mention are American, but it might stimulate me to check to see what we have in Australia when I have a few minutes, as I do like watching dragonflies and butterflies too.

  2. Wow - how did you capture that image of the skink? Whenever I see them they're moving so fast I'm not really sure I even saw them!

    Great post and I agree with Happy Wanderer - in general people who are out birding seem very perceptive to all that's around them. From the flora to the other winged critters and even the creepy crawlies suspended and walking on the trails.

    I was unaware of e-Butterfly - thanks for the lead!

  3. Yes, birding leads to a love a nature and vice versa! I am glad to see you enjoying it all! thanks for the photos of such wonderful creatures. I had never heard of that turtle species. What a colorful neck and head it has!

  4. 彡✿⊱·..
    Imagens muito bonitas.

    Bom fim de semana!
    ✿° ·..

  5. Une très belle série de photos !!!
    Merci Julie et bonne journée

  6. A most delightful post, Scott! Bird lovers can't help but appreciate all the wildlife seen on our birding excursions. Thank you for sharing the many identification websites you visit. I know these will be useful to me and others when seeking information on various insects and wildlife observed. Stellar photographs, as always!