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Dawes Arboretum's holly collection - and its birds

A Northern Mockingbird guards "his" patch of possumhaw, Ilex decidua. There were plenty of would-be frugivorous marauders to fend off.

A few days ago, I ventured to the always interesting Dawes Arboretum, near Newark, Ohio. The arboretum sprawls over nearly 2,000 acres, and much of the landscape is natural habitats. But much of the site is also a showcase of various ornamentals, although some of these plants are native, at least to the eastern U.S.

My target was the holly collection, a colorful section heavily planted with a dizzying array of various holly species and their cultivars. I knew many of the trees and shrubs would be heavily laden with fruit, and there would be fruit-eating birds in photogenic settings.

A striking male American Robin tees up on American holly, Ilex opaca. Robins abounded, and I never tire of photographing them. The opportunity to present these handsome thrushes amid equally handsome plants festooned with colorful fruit was irresistible, and many shutter clicks were directed towards Turdus migratorius.

As is often the case in winter, large numbers of Cedar Waxwings mingled with the robins. These suave animals were a primary target on this day, and I had plenty of opportunities. Here, a juvenile waxwing watches an elder scarf down the berry of an American holly.

By just standing quietly among shrubs, and waiting for the birds to come to nearby favored berry bushes, it was quite easy to make satisfying images. Because the skies were cloudy and dark, it was necessary to use fill flash - I generally prefer natural light. But this was good practice, and allowed me to capture images that I couldn't have otherwise made.

If you're looking for a great place to visit, bird, and photograph, make a foray to Dawes Arboretum. CLICK HERE for more information.


Auralee said…
Waxwings (by Robert Francis)

Four Tao philosophers as cedar waxwings
chat on a February berry bush
in sun, and I am one.

Such merriment and such sobriety ---
the small wild fruit on the tall stalk ---
was this not always my true style?

Above an elegance of snow, beneath
a silk-blue sky a brotherhood of four
birds. Can you mistake us?

To sun, to feast, and to converse
and all together--for this I have abandoned
all my other lives.

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