Most photographers, I assume, attempt to go to the most exotic or spectacular places to photograph scenic landscapes and breathtaking vistas. But there are plenty of interesting things right in your back yard, (or front yard or field behind your house or woods across town.) Within 25 miles of my house, there are hundreds of places to explore, all on public lands. While at first glance it might seem mundane, a closer look will usually reveal surprises never before realized, like the unusual Onion-head eriogonum wildflower pictured here that I found out in the scrublands east of town.
With a little exploration and investigation, you will be amazed at the variety and diversity of wildlife you'll find worth photographing: Unusual bugs, wildflowers and vegetation, plants and animals, scenic vistas, and more. Wildflowers, birds and squirrels seem to be the easiest to spot and photograph.
For photographing animals, I found it best to find a comfortable clearing surrounded by nearby rocks, bushes or streams, and wait until nature comes to me. Animals get comfortable with your presence when you just sit still for a while. My 75-300mm zoom lens allows me to get extreme close-up shots without getting so close that I scare them away. The attached photo of a golden-mantled ground squirrel that I took from 6 feet away is such an example.
Then you can increase your appreciation of the nature around you by purchasing field guides to identify what you've photographed. I've photographed and catalogued over 40 varieties of local wildflowers just over the last few weeks, some common and some that are more unusual.