How does Jim Greene get all those wonderful pictures?
For instance – in a WILL lecture he presented last year, how did he get all those intimate images of a family of foxes living on the grounds of Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge?
The short answer is, it’s not easy.
He got out there by dawn each day, and sat very still watching for them until about 9 a.m. – the foxes’ bedtime. That’s how he got a whole family of them – the parents and four kits – wandering about hunting and otherwise living their lives together. It’s also how he caught one fox red-handed, stealing someone’s Sunday Washington Post. (This is something that happens more than you might think, as the Post recently reported.)
WCBR has a lot of wonderful assets that draw people to want to live here, but none of those things is more dramatic than the jaw-dropping beauty of its natural surroundings. It is located in arguably the most beautiful landscape in the nation, and many residents enjoy stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the windows of their apartments.
Of course, not everyone wants to get out there and experience wildlife as up-close-and-personal as Jim Greene does, or for as many hours. That’s OK; they don’t have to. Jim has appointed himself to go out and get the pictures, and then share them with his neighbors. And we’re talking about more than foxes – a lot more. As you can see in his WILL lecture, there are coyotes, bluebirds, cardinals, the blue grosbeak, the great blue heron, deer in abundance, the snapping turtle, the American toad, Canada geese, the eastern painted turtle, the osprey, the red-tailed hawk, the bald eagle, a variety of vultures, purple martins, and the list goes on and on.
The entire Charlottesville area abounds with ways to interact with nature. Downtown is only a 25-minute drive from the southern end of Shenandoah National Park and the northern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are nature trails everywhere.
But to get his amazing photos, Jim doesn’t even have to leave WCBR’s 56-acre campus atop Pantops Mountain, where there is more than enough wildlife to keep an avid naturalist and his camera busy. Jim has already published two wildlife books since he’s been here, and another is on the way. In fact, it would have been out already, but was delayed by COVID.
But you don’t have to wait for the book to see the pictures. He keeps taking them, and emails them out to a list of friends on a weekly basis.
He started sharing this way a long time ago, when he was a college professor in Florida. He was teaching biology, and it occurred to him that very few of his students had ever seen the creatures he was teaching them about, out in the wild. So he started going out and photographing them, to bring back and show to his class. He also served as a staff wildlife photographer with Florida Wildlife Magazine. Later, he became an expert for the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Now in retirement at WCBR – he and his wife, Betsy, moved here in 2013 – he still wears multiple hats. For instance, many know him as chairman of the WCBRFoundation. But he still takes time – a lot of time – to bring his neighbors closer to nature.
“We have a lot of residents who can’t get out. Or don’t know what to look for if they do,” he says. He hopes his pictures encourage others to get out and look around. “The more time you spend walking around, or just sitting outdoors – you don’t have to go too far to find a bench at WCBR – it helps you psychologically.”
After all, the beauty of WCBR isn’t just for the dedicated photographer, says Jim: “Nature is for everybody.”