— The Artfeel column returns to present art as a diversion during the COVID-19 crisis.

At sunrise on the Bear Branch Reservoir in Lakeside Park in The Woodlands, wildlife photographer Lisa Griffis is iconic in her blue kayak holding her long camera lens patiently trying to capture an elusive Belted Kingfisher, one of the birds on her photo bucket list.

“Animals are dynamic. It’s important I’m at their eye level and the boat helps me get there,” Griffis said. “Nature gives gifts. It may not give you what you want, but it will give you something.”

Griffis is a self-taught photographer who belongs to both area camera clubs: The Woodlands Camera Club and The Woodlands Photography Club.

Originally from a Massachusetts, Griffis is a retired United States Marshal with over 30 years of proud service. In the early 1990s, she and her ex-husband moved to The Woodlands and raised their two children here.

In 2007, Griffis made the move from the Village of Cochran’s Crossing to Crown Oaks located in nearby Montgomery where she kept her horses. In 2018, she moved to Conroe’s Del Webb active adult community, a beautiful nature-laden hamlet with three ponds teeming with wildlife, and located just a stone’s throw from The Woodlands.

A few years ago, Griffis started posting her stunning wildlife photos on the Del Webb Facebook page for the residents’ enjoyment.

As her fan club grew, many of her neighbors put her telephone number on speed dial hoping she could quickly capture the baby deer grazing near their back yard or document the young bluebirds being fed by the parents in their nest boxes. Whenever she can, Griffis is there to click her camera’s shutter!

“Each day I learn something new about wildlife photography,” explains Griffis. “Recently, I painted my boat’s oars black, because their factory model white color was inadvertently working against me (think of a deer’s white tail alert flick as it springs away), and before a bird takes flight it often defecates — so if I hope to capture a flying bird, I now keep my eyes peeled for it to poop and then I’m ready for the flight shot!”

For the best wildlife photographic spots in The Woodlands area, Griffis recommends Lakeside Park in the Village of Alden Bridge and Northshore Park in the Village of Panther Creek.

“Go out without much expectation, relax and enjoy your surroundings,” smiles Griffis. “Let nature surprise and delight you.”

Editor’s Note: Nickole Kerner Bobley, a local arts guru and former columnist for The Villager from 2017-2018 has graciously agreed to pen some special columns. She said, “The Artfeel column returns to serve as a momentary mental diversion during the COVID-19 crisis.” Bobley is also one of the co-founders and key figures in the quarterly ArtFeel night of whimsy where local residents and visitors can get on stage and express themselves at Market Street’s Central Park.