The Sierra Club's Daily Ray of Hope showcases the work of photographers (both professional and amateur) who understand the restorative power of a breathtaking nature photograph. Every day, we deliver one photo from the Daily Ray of Hope Flickr pool to inboxes, as a way to show appreciation for the places and creatures we're trying to protect. To celebrate the photographic community that has supplied us with hope all year, we've compiled a slideshow of some of 2012's highlights. Check out the Flickr group to see more amazing shots or sign up for the email to get a daily reminder that Earth is an amazing place.
This photo of a great egret was captured with a Nikon D7000 by Ronnie Goyette at the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary in Clearwater, Florida. "I wanted to visit because it sounded like it would be a great place to photograph birds. They treat and release over 10,000 birds a year, it is the home of 600 birds, and they breed permanently disabled birds in the hopes of releasing offspring back into nature," Goyette says. "However, I was very surprised to find a large population of wild birds hanging out on the overhanging trees, fences and other structures. The great egret I photographed was wild, preening on one of these trees. He was quite comfortable having people around and didn't seem to mind me being almost underneath him when I took this photo. Egrets are one of my favorite birds to photograph because of their grace and beauty, and although I have many photos of them, this was my first of this type of pose."