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Archive for December, 2013

It’s a bit of a cliché, but I really want to capture an image of geese in flight against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset.

There is certainly no shortage of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) around here and they seem to take off and land so often at my local marsh that it sometimes seem as busy as a regional airport. Beautiful sunsets, though, are harder to come by and many of our days seem to simply fade into darkness. Getting the geese to fly in a proper formation is an additional complication.

This is my most recent attempt at my aspirational image of geese at sunset. There are a few streaks of color and the formation is a little ragged. It’s not quite what I envisioned in my mind—I’ll keep working on bringing that image to life.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Last night I made a trip into Washington D.C. with some friends to see the National Christmas Tree. Despite the fact that I have lived in this area for more than 20 years, this was the first time that I had seen it live—I have seen the tree-lighting ceremony on the news many times.

The large Christmas tree, which is a live tree, is surrounded by 56 smaller decorated live trees, representing the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the unincorporated territories of the United States. Underneath the tree was an elaborate set-up of model trains, reminding me of my childhood.

It’s the day before Christmas and most of us are in high gear for the coming holy day. Best wishes to all of you for a joyous Christmas and a wonderful and blessed New Year.

National_Christmas_Tree_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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This past week I have observed female Belted Kingfishers (Megaceryle alcyon) at a couple of different locations at my marshland park and tried to capture them in flight as they dove into the water from their perches in the trees. It was challenging, because the kingfishers were pretty far away, but I did get a couple of decent shots (with a fair amount of cropping).

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The beavers have moved out of the lodge right under the boardwalk that made it possible for me to get relatively close-up shots of them last winter. This weekend I was determined to get a photo of them and had to wait until it was almost dark to catch sight of one of them swimming in the distance. There was just enough light to focus and I had to crank up the ISO to 1600 (with the resulting increase in noise), but I was able to get a recognizable image.

This completes an incredible week for me of photographing mammals in the wilds of my suburban marshland oasis—I managed to get shots of an otter, a raccoon, a fox, and a beaver. I also saw a few deer, but didn’t get any photos of them. What’s next? I have been told that we have coyotes in the park, but I refuse to follow the advice I heard that the best way to draw in the coyote is to go walking in the park with a small dog after dark. Meanwhile, I can only hope that I am fortunate enough to see the same animals again and get better shots.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Like a sprinter, this Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) seems to be lunging forward toward a finish line, pushing hard to be the first to break that invisible tape.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I continue to be amazed at the diversity of the wildlife at Huntley Meadows Park, the local marshland park where I capture most of my wildlife photos. Monday, as I stood at the spot where I had previously spotted an otter, I caught a glimpse of this beautiful red fox (Vulpes vulpes) as it walked around part of the perimeter of a beaver pond.

This was the first time that I had seen a fox in the wild and the wonderful red coloration was breathtakingly beautiful. I was amazed too at the bushiness of the tail. Wow!

The first photo was actually the last one in the sequence, but I really like the way that it helps to show you the setting, with the cattails surrounding the beaver pond (there are woods beyond the cattails).

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday, I returned to the pond where I had previously seen the river otter, hoping to see it again. As I stood silently at the water’s edge, I heard something pretty big moving about in the underbrush, something that seemed to be bigger than an otter.

I was surprised to see a raccoon emerge—generally they are nocturnal and previously I had seen them only at twilight. The raccoon seemed to be rooting around, looking for food. He didn’t seem to be aware of my presence and as I watched it move about, I managed to get a few clear shots before it moved away into the deeper brush.

It you are of a certain age, you remember the fun little Beatles song “Rocky Raccoon”—every time that I see a raccoon, that song comes to mind.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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