Seven Mornings at Shaw Nature Reserve

April 8, 2015

During the last week and a half, I have spent seven mornings at Shaw Nature Reserve (SNR) on a stakeout for a bobcat that I observed while visiting the wetland area with my friends Brenda Hente and Bill Fritz. Brenda actually spotted the bobcat near the wetland while we were checking out a great-horned owl nest, but we all got a good look at it. Unfortunately, there was no chance for a photo, but I resigned myself to make a stand for as many mornings as possible, in hopes of seeing the bob-tailed critter again. Although I still haven’t seen the bobcat, I’ve been fortunate to have been visited by a variety of other creatures, including the featured critter, a red-shouldered hawk.

Each morning, the red-shoulder arrived at the same time, found a favorite perch among the sprouts along the shoreline, and began feeding on 20 – 30 spring peepers and chorus frogs. The hawk was never fooled by my concealment technique; it just accepted my presence, often touching down in the prairie grass within 20 yards of my position. I’m still working on the perfect image of the hungry bird with a little frog in its bill. It swallows them awfully fast!



On the second morning of my visits to SNR, I was surprised by a bird I had never seen before—an American bittern. The bittern touched down in the tall prairie, directly across from my position, and immediately turned its bill toward the sky, a behavior I had read about in bird books many times before. It stayed frozen in that position for almost 30 minutes before it faded into the grass to its rear. I was pleased to get an image of the reclusive bird, complemented by the golden prairie grass. I never saw it again after that morning. Be sure to click on the image for a better look and then just hit the back arrow to get back to the blog.



Every day for the first six days of my adventure this pair of blue-winged teal made an appearance but kept their distance. On the 7th day, both swam right by my position. Notice the violet blush toward the back of the drake’s head. Most waterfowlers have never seen this coloration on the blue-winged teal because it only occurs in spring plumage when the season is closed. Because the teals waited for almost a week before giving me a shot, I was encouraged that maybe the bobcat would do the same. Maybe Day 7 would be my moment to photograph the ghostly cat!



On most days I would see between six and twelve whitetails. This was one of my favorite images as I managed to get three in the same frame. A close look at the one on the left reveals the beginnings of antlers on the little buck. I never grow tired of seeing and photographing whitetails at different times of the year. I love the way they change color from winter to summer.



Sometimes during my walks to and from the wetland I would run into other wildlife, such as this male, eastern towhee, one of my favorite birds in Missouri. I’ve always preferred their original name, which was rufous-sided towhee, but I’ve accepted the change and moved on with my life. 🙂 Eastern towhees are fun to watch as they frantically scratch the ground with both feet, in search of grubs and other tidbits. If you click on the image you will get a better look at the beautiful red eye of this species.



Even this American coot looked regal in the golden light of morning at the SNR wetland. I’d never seen one hold its head so high. The coot’s pose, along with the background of prairie grass made for a nice image. The coot’s eyes are even redder than those of the towhee above!



Although I never saw the bobcat again, I didn’t feel too disappointed. After all, how could I have felt short-changed after seeing so many other critters while waiting for the bobcat? As I was going through all the images I’d made at the wetland, I was taken by this photograph of a pair of wood ducks. I found it pleasing to know that while I was in my turkey chair, watching the wildlife of the wetland, these wood ducks were on their favorite perch, watching me. I’m pretty sure they weren’t as fascinated with me as I was of them. Good times.

Thanks for looking,


Email me at:  NatureFrames@Rocketmail.Com

12 comments on “Seven Mornings at Shaw Nature Reserve”

  1. Hi Danny,

    Love this blog entry. So interesting, and beautiful.

    All best to Joyce,

    Chris Stuckenschneider Book Editor, Book Buzz Coordinator The Missourian 14 W. Main St. Washington, MO 63090 Cell, 314-808-1807

  2. Danny, great post and wonderful images, plus this is a great story of how photos “happen”. Mark Pelton

    • Thanks Mark. I appreciate that and you are right about the lesson. I didn’t think of that.

  3. Thank you for the wonderful post!!! American Bittern WELL DONE. Danny. Waiting for bob cat photo j/k David and Diane

  4. Danny, Thanks for the wonderful post.. AMERICAN BITTERN at Shaws , Well done !

    Waiting for the bob cat. J/k. Thanks, David and Diane


  5. Danny: I look forward to your Emails, and love your photography of wildlife. This particular Email was fabulous. I enjoyed seeing the variety of creatures, and the rare species. Keep up the great work, and thank you for allowing me to be on your Email list. Bill Houck P.S. I found out about you through Art Tilley, a personal friend, and his barred owls. Date: Tue, 7 Apr 2015 22:05:32 +0000 To:

  6. Awesome shots, Danny! I’m glad I could be a part of it all. Hang in there with that Bobcat search. I’m positive you will see it again!

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