Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for October, 2015

Early morning light and fall foliage make such a great backdrop and I was thrilled when an Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) flew closer to me and allowed me to take advantage of the situation.

I love it when the composition is this basic and the results are simply beautiful.

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Earlier this month I spotted a butterfly with perfect colors for Halloween and it was perched upside down in a way that reminded me of a bat. (Take a close look at its shadow.)

It’s not really called a Halloween Butterfly—I sometimes like to make up my own names for the creatures that I see and photograph. It was a cool, but sunny day when I came upon the butterfly, which was completely stretched out, basking in the warmth of the sun’s rays. I wasn’t sure it was alive, until it flew away when I moved in a little closer after some initial shots.

The unusual wing shape made me think it was either an Eastern Comma or a Question Mark butterfly—yes, there are butterflies named after punctuation marks—but I wasn’t sure which one. After a little research on line, I’m convinced that it is probably an Eastern Comma butterfly (Polygonia comma). According to a posting on Trekohio.com, Eastern Comma butterflies have three dark spots in a row on their front wings, while Question Mark butterflies have four spots.

Why am I seeing a butterfly this late in the season? Eastern Comma butterflies overwinter as adults. A University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Field Station posting described the process in this way, “They overwinter in cracks and crevices in rocks and trees. There, they certainly freeze, becoming butterfly-sicles, but their blood contains glycogens – antifreeze – that allow their tissues to withstand the winter’s cycles of freezing and thawing.”

In spring, the un-dead arise again.

Happy Halloween.

Eastern Comma

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

The soft morning light reflected off of the colorful autumn foliage early today at Huntley Meadows Park, providing a beautiful backdrop for this male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) as it perched in the cattails.

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Warblers are so small and hide so well in the trees that I almost never see any. This past week, however, I spotted a flash of yellow in the distance and I was able to capture some shots of what I have been told is a Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum), though it is hard for me to confirm the identification, considering how much many warbler species look almost alike.

I took these three shots from the same spot on the boardwalk at my local marshland park as I looked across a field of cattail and other vegetation. It’s interesting to note how much the feel of the photos changed as the warbler moved from perch to perch.

Normally I try to get close-up shots of my subjects, but I decided not to crop in on the first image, which reminds me of a Japanese ink painting with its sparse use of color and emphasis on lines and shapes. The background was so interesting in the second image, that once again I did only a minor crop. In the third image, my favorite element is the warbler’s tail.

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

This past weekend I inadvertently spooked a small flock of little Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) while wandering about Huntley Meadows Park, but managed to get some shots of them as they flew away through the trees.

I just love the combination of the colorful birds in flight and the autumn foliage.

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

After a gray, rainy day like today, I need a visual pick-me-up and energetic Downy Woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens) never fail to raise my spirits. I spotted this little beauty at Huntley Meadows Park this past weekend.

Downy Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

A Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is so big that it’s difficult to imagine one hiding itself effectively. Yet when this heron settled in among the branches of a tree, I was amazed to see how well it blended in with its surroundings. The heron was so effectively camouflaged that others who walked by did not even notice this large bird until I pointed it out to them and some of them still had difficulty picking it out.

As some of you have undoubtedly noticed, I love alliteration. I somehow can’t smile when I pronounce the title I chose for this posting.  It somehow brings to mind one of the scenes in “My Fair Lady,” with the phrase, “In Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly happen” repeated as Professor Higgins, Colonel Pickering, and Eliza sing “The Rain in Spain.” (Here’s a link to the YouTube film clip of this scene.)

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I never quite know what I will stumble upon when I wander about in remote areas of the woods, fields, and marshes of Huntley Meadows Park. This past weekend I spotted this skull, which I guess is that of a White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus), a common species where I live. How did this deer meet its demise? Was it old age, disease, starvation, or a predator?

Somehow this simple image of a skull seems appropriate for Halloween Week. Happy Halloween in advance.

White-tailed Deer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

WARNING: This encounter did not turn out well for the frog. This past Saturday I spotted a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) in the shallow water at the edge of a beaver pond at my favorite marshland. I watched and waited, knowing full well that a heron’s patience when fishing generally exceeds my own.

Suddenly the heron thrust its bill into the water with such force that it had to extend its wings for stability. Surely, I thought, the heron had just caught a massive fish.  When I caught a glimpse of the catch, however, I realized that it was not a fish—it was a frog. The heron’s grip on the frog looked to be a little problematic, for the heron had snagged the frog by its legs.

Now I realize that in some cultures, frog legs are considered to be a delicacy, but I was pretty confident that the heron was not going to settle for just the legs. The challenge for the heron was to reposition the frog without losing it. One added complication was that the frog appeared to be struggling, trying desperately to extricate itself from the heron’s tight grip.

Moving to the edge of the pond, the heron bent down and pinned the frog against the ground as it grasped the frog around its upper torso. Only then did the heron return to its original upright position, knowing that the frog’s fate was now sealed. With small movements of its head, the heron slowly repositioned the frog until it was in a heads-first position.

All of the sudden, the heron tilted its head back  and swallowed and the frog was gone so quickly that I was unable to capture its last moment.

Apparently the frog was just an appetizer, for I saw the heron catch a fish a short time later, but that may be the subject of a future post.

Great Blue Heron

The initial strike

Great Blue Heron

Hanging by the legs

Great Blue Heron

Grabbing the torso

Great Blue Heron

The beginning of the end

Great Blue Heron

Almost in position

Great Blue Heron

Ready for a big gulp

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

It was cool and cloudy yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park, but my spirits were brightened considerably when I saw three Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) soaring briefly over the park. It looked to be two adults and one juvenile, perhaps a family on a Saturday outing.

The eagles were pretty far away and I had my telephoto zoom lens extended as far as it could go as I attempted to track the flying eagles. Occasionally two of them or even all three would come into the frame for a split second, but then they would be soaring off into different parts of the sky.

I’m including an assortment of shots to give you a sense of the experience. I consider any day that I spot a Bald Eagle and get recognizable shots of it to be a wonderful day.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Some of the damselfly species that I pursue are present in such limited numbers and in so well-defined areas that it is sometimes possible after time to recognize individual damselflies by their distinctive physical characteristics.

Earlier this month I was really excited when I spotted some Great Spreadwing damselflies (Archilestes grandis) after a tip from fellow dragonfly enthusiast Walter Sanford. I visited the location where he had seen them a few times and was able to get some good photos, which I included in several blog postings.

My efforts, though, pale in comparison with Walter’s—he virtually staked out that location and came to know some of  the damselflies there so well that he gave them nicknames. In messages to me, Walter noted he had named two of his favorites “Mr. Magoo” and “Bendy Straw.”  Check out Walter’s blog posting today for some wonderful images of these two damselfly celebrities.

As I reviewed my images of Great Spreadwings, I noticed that one of them had a peculiar bend near the end of his abdomen. Could this possibly be “Bendy Straw?” Walter and I were never at that location at the same time, so it seemed unlikely that I had seen one of “his” damselflies. After I sent him a copy of the image, he confirmed that I had in fact photographed “Bendy Straw.”

Great Spreadwing damselfly

As I continued examining my images, another damselfly stood out, because he had only five legs. It looked like one of his back legs had been completely severed, leaving a small stump. How could something like this have happened? I am used to seeing dragonflies with tattered wings, but an injury like this seems to be of a completely different nature.

Great Spreadwing damselfly

I usually try to identify the species of my subjects, but both of these damselflies help to remind me that I am not photographing species—I am photographing individuals. Each of those individuals has distinctive characteristics and has its own life story.

Somehow that seems to be a useful reminder and gives me a sense of perspective about what I am doing as a nature photographer.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

The large butterflies seem to be gone, but I continue to occasionally see smaller sulphur butterflies nectaring on late blooming flowers.

There are several different varieties of sulphur butterflies that look a bit alike, so I am not certain in identifying this butterfly. At first I thought that this might be a Pink-edged Sulphur (Colias interior), but the range maps suggest that we may not be in the correct geographic region for that species.

I think it is more likely that this is a Clouded Sulphur butterfly (Colias philodice). As for the flower, it looks to me to be some variety of aster.

The weather is definitely getting colder—I had to scrape frost off my car’s windshield earlier this week—so I don’t know how much longer I’ll be seeing these little beauties. Beauty so often is transitory; all we can do is enjoy it and appreciate it until it is gone.

Clouded Sulphur

Clouded Sulphur

Clouded Sulphur

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

When I arrived at the marsh in the early morning hours, it looked like the spiders had been busy all night preparing decorations for Halloween—there were spider webs everywhere.

The webs seemed to have been more hastily constructed than those of the orbweavers that I have observed recently and there did not appear to be any spiders in the center of these webs. What is the purpose of these webs if the spiders are not there to secure any prey that is caught in the web?

I can’t help but admire the amazing artistry of these fascinating little creatures as I examine the interlocking lines and curves of their incredible creations.

I’ve place these images in a mosaic collage—if you want to see larger versions of the images, just click on any one of them and you’ll move into a slide show mode that lets you scroll through them quickly.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

A small flock of Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) was active in the cattails at Huntley Meadows Park on Monday morning. I was happy to be able to capture some action shots of one of the females, which, as you can readily see, are not black and don’t have red wings.

It was a real treat for me to be able to get some shots of the female blackbirds at the top of the cattails. Most of the time, the females peck about at the base of the cattails and only the male blackbirds are visible at the tops. For whatever reason, the majority of the members of this small flock appeared to be females.

I didn’t think that this female blackbird was aware of my presence as she diligently searched for insects, but the stare that I captured in the final photo seemed to be conveying a message that she did not want me there. I backed off and left a short time later.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

A lot of scratching and movement was taking place down deep in the cattails and I stopped and waited, hoping to see what birds were responsible for the commotion. Finally, one of them popped to the surface and it looked to be a White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) and I smiled.

Sparrows have a very special place in my heart, because they remind me of my deceased parents. When I was growing up, one of their favorite hymns at church was “His Eye is On the Sparrow.” The hymn has a simple, Scripture-based message that we should not be discouraged, because the same God who watches over the sparrows in the field cares even more for us.

Now, whenever I see sparrows, I smile as I am filled with memories of my parents, and the words of the chorus of the hymn play again in my mind, “I sing because I’m happy. I sing because I’m free. For His eye is on the sparrow. And I know He watches me.”

If you have never heard this song, there are many versions of it on YouTube, including, versions by such noted artists as Whitney Houston. Sandi Patty’s rendition is close to the version that I remember in the small Baptist churches of my childhood.

White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

After a summer of not seeing many spiders, I was thrilled recently to spot this orbweaver spider as it dealt with an unidentified prey that it had captured.

Most of the large spiders that I observe are Black and Yellow Garden spiders (Argiope aurantia), but this one looks different from the ones that I have previously seen, especially in the first image. It may be that I am used to seeing the spider only in the center of her web, as in the second image, or perhaps this is a different spider species.

This was an unusual case for me, because I spotted the spider as I was walking through a field of waist-high vegetation and I was able to get pretty close to the spider and get these shot with my macro lens. Generally, I am forced to photograph spiders like this from a distance (which most people probably think is a good idea anyways).

There are some subjects, like cute birds, that I photograph that I know will have a broad appeal, but past experience has shown me that spiders tend to divide people into two camps—some people are fascinate and think spiders are totally cool, while others are thoroughly creeped out and find spiders to be repulsive.

What do you think about spiders?

orbweaver spider

orbweaver spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Although it is October, my good friend and fellow photographer Walter Sanford continues to discover new species of damselflies in my favorite marshland park. Check out his posting (and his site) for some awesome images of his newest find.

walter sanford's photoblog

I’m fairly certain I discovered a new species of damselfly at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP): Sweetflag Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes forcipatus).

A Sweetflag Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes forcipatus) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male. 15 OCT 2015 | HMP | Sweetflag Spreadwing (male)

This individual is a male, as indicated by its hamules and terminal appendages.

A Sweetflag Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes forcipatus) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male. 15 OCT 2015 | HMP | Sweetflag Spreadwing (male)

(See a full-size version of the preceding photo, without annotation.)

The hamules are key field markers for differentiating some species of similar-looking damselflies, such as Southern Spreadwing (Lestes australis) and Sweetflag Spreadwing (Lestes forcipatus).

All male damselflies have four terminal appendages, collectively called “claspers.” Male damselfly terminal appendages don’t look exactly the same for all species of damselflies, but their function is identical.

A Sweetflag Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes forcipatus) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male. 15 OCT 2015 | HMP | Sweetflag Spreadwing (male)

(See a full-size version of the preceding photo, without annotation.)

Claspers are used to grab and hold female damselflies…

View original post 352 more words

Read Full Post »

In the early light of the dawn, I captured this solitary Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) in deep reflection, contemplating the start of a new day.

There is nothing really complex about this image, but I like the way that it conveys the mood of that moment, a moment when the world seemed to be totally tranquil, uncluttered by the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

I love the early morning.

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

As the sun gradually illuminates the trees and burns off the mist on the water, Huntley Meadows Park is especially beautiful, especially at this time of the year, when the trees are showing off their changing colors. The park was silent when I arrived in the early morning darkness, but gradually I could hear the sounds of birds singing and I couldn’t help but notice the arrival of a small flock of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis).

The colors of the foliage here in Northern Virginia are not as bold and striking as in some other parts of the country, but there is an understated beauty in the muted tones or red and yellow. I am not used to taking landscape-style shots (and a 150-600mm lens is probably not optimal for doing so), but I tried to capture some different scenes to give you a sense of the park where I take so many of my photographs. It’s a wondrous location, particularly when you consider that it is found in a suburban location.

autumn

autumn

autumn

autumn

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Most of the frogs that I have seen in the last few months have been hopping away or diving into the water as I walked along small streams in search of dragonflies. Last weekend, though, I happened to notice a frog in the shallow water of a small pool in the woods of my favorite marshland park.

The light was nice and the frog was only partially submerged, so I moved closer to the frog to take some shots.  I could tell was a Southern Leopard frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus), a pretty common frog where I live. I really like the distinctive spots that are responsible for its name.

Standing relatively upright, I was able to get a good shot of the frog’s entire body. I was happy with the shot, but not fully satisfied, so I decided to try for a lower shot. Sometimes I will lie on my stomach with my elbows propped on the ground for this kind of shot, but the ground was wet and muddy, so I settled for a low crouch. I was hoping to get as close to eye level with the frog as I could.

When you look at the two photos, you can notice some interesting differences caused by the change of perspective. The frog appears much flatter in the second shot and some interesting reflections of the eyes have now appeared, which might have been caused more by a change in sunlight than by the change of position. Somehow I feel a little bit more immersed in the frog’s world in the second shot.

I’m not sure I’d be able to judge which of the two shots is better—I like aspects of each one. More importantly, I reminded myself of the important of varying my perspective, of changing angles and distances when working with a subject.

You can learn a lot by getting down with a frog.

Southern Leopard frog

Souothern Leopard frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

When you are face-to-face with this toad, you might notice that he has a few skin issues, but when you see him from the side, you realize that he has a serious problem that anti-acne cream surely will not cure.

I don’t often see toads at my local marshland park, so I couldn’t help but move in for a closer look when I spotted this one last weekend. At the park, we have both Fowler’s toads (Anaxyrus fowleri) and Eastern American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus) and I have trouble telling them apart. To make matters worse, according to the Virginia Herpetological Society, these species hybridize, “making identification difficult.”

I was pretty amazed when I looked at my shots to see all of the different textures and patterns on the toad’s body body. There are warts and weaves and different kinds of stripes. I’m happy too that I was able to capture the toad’s toes, which most often are hidden.

toad

toad

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

How do you feel when confronted with a graphic image of mating damselflies? Are you shocked, offended, fascinated, or intrigued? Is it art or is it pornography?

I couldn’t help but feel a little bit like a voyeur as I crept closer and closer on Monday to the mating Great Spreadwing damselflies (Archilestes grandis) with my macro lens. As I prepared the photos for this posting, it seemed like I had extracted a couple of pages from the Damselfly Kama Sutra. What exactly were they doing as they assumed more and more acrobatic positions? It was like watching an R-rated (or maybe X-rated) Cirque du Soleil performance.

Art or pornography? Sometime in the distant past I remember studying a Supreme Court case in which attempts were made to define obscenity. With the help of Wikipedia, I refreshed my memory. It was a 1964 case and Justice Potter Stewart wrote some words that have become a guideline for assessing a given piece of work:

“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it…”

So that’s it, “I know it when I see it.”

I’ll boldly contend that my photos are art. I am glad, however, that I am not a parent who has to respond to a young child’s curious question about what these damselflies are doing. The birds and the bees are simple to explain by comparison. With damselflies, I think the Facebook expression fits—”it’s complicated.”

Great Spreadwing damselflies

Great Spreadwing damselflies

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

The loud screams of a hawk rang out for extended periods of time during one of my trips to Huntley Meadows Park this past weekend. I couldn’t tell for sure if it was a single hawk or more than one, but the screams seemed to be those of a  Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus). (You can hear the distinctive sound of this hawk by following this link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.)

The calls seemed to be coming from deep in the woods, but eventually a hawk flew overhead. The light was good enough that I was able to capture a pretty good amount of the beautiful details of this impressive-looking raptor, including the one feather at the tip of the wings that seems a bit frayed.

I think this is a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk, perhaps the one that was making the calls that I had heard a bit earlier. As always, I welcome any corrections in my identification from more experienced birders.

UPDATE: One of my Facebook readers weighed in and noted that this is a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk.

Red-shouldered Hawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Do you pay any attention to the nondescript little birds pecking about in the underbrush? Do you even notice them?

I love trying to capture images of impressive, powerful hawk, owls, and eagles. There is no denying their beauty. However, I’ll also stop and try to get a glimpse of the small birds too, for I have learned that they have a special beauty all their own.

I am especially happy when I can get an unobstructed view of one of them, like this Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) that I spotted yesterday at my local marshland park.

The beautiful little wren seems full of personality and exudes a positive, happy attitude.

Don’t let that beauty go unnoticed.

Carolina Wren

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I just love the beautiful blue eyes and distinctive markings of the male Great Spreadwing damselfly (Archilestes grandis) and I was thrilled when I spotted one on Saturday at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia.

I wonder if it damages this little guy’s self-esteem to be called a “damsel?” Perhaps he looks with envy at his odonate brethren with the more macho-sounding “dragon” in their names. Do we need a more gender-neutral name for damselflies?

Great Spreadwing damselfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

What’s the largest damselfly in North American? According to Dennis Paulson, in his wonderful book, Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East, that title goes to the Great Spreadwing damselfly (Archilestes grandis), which is more than two inches (5 cm) in length, i.e. bigger than many of the dragonflies that I so frequently chase.

My good friend and local dragonfly expert Walter Sanford spotted a male Great Spreadwing this past week and posted a photo of it and yesterday I felt inspired to try to find one myself. He had provided me the general location at Huntley Meadows Park, my favorite local place for nature photography, and I patiently searched near the water, in the tall vegetation, and under the trees for almost two hours.

As my patience was starting to wear thin, I finally spotted one. The Great Spreadwing damselflies have a yellow racing stripe on their thorax and are quite distinctive, in addition to their size. I took some initial shots with my big zoom lens and then switched quickly to my 180mm macro lens.

The first Great Spreadwing I spotted was a male, but eventually I spotted a female and a pair of them in the tandem position. I am still going through my shots, but wanted to post a couple initially. I will probably post some more images in another posting or two.

The first shot shows a female Great Spreadwing damselfly—you can tell from her coloration and her terminal appendages. She let me take quite a few photos and returned to nearby vegetation a couple of times when she was spooked. The second image is a close-up that shows her beautiful eyes and her blue upper lips, which I think technically are called labrum.

Perhaps blue lips are the new fashion craze for the autumn. I’ll look around and see if any of the young ladies in the Washington D.C. area are sporting this look.

Great Spreadwing damselfly

spread2_female_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

When I spotted a male Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) yesterday, I was really happy, because I have not seen a male in several years. He was pretty far away and I having a hard time getting a sharp shot, so I decided to switch to manual focus.

Just after I had switched, the kingfisher made a long shallow dive off of the rotten tree on which he was perched. Instinctively I tried to track the fast-moving bird as I frantically tried to focus. Not surprisingly, most of my shots were out of focus, but one came out pretty well. It shows the kingfisher just above the surface of the water with what appears to be a fish in his mouth. (You may want to click on the image to get a better look at the kingfisher.)

Belted Kingfisher

A bit later in the day, I took this shot of the male Belted Kingfisher on the same perch that he had been on earlier. He seemed to be in a good mood and almost looked like he was singing. Unlike the female, which has both a chestnut and a blue stripe or her chest, the male Belted Kingfisher has only the blue stripe.

Belted Kingfisher

The kingfisher was happy and I was overjoyed with my shots. It was a wonderful day.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

With Celine Dion’s voice echoing in his head, this Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria) reenacts a scene from his favorite movie and loudly exclaims, “I’m the king of the world.”

Solitary Sandpiper

Despite believing that his heart will go on, this sandpiper is still feeling very solitary. Imagine how different that the movie “Titanic” would have been if Jack Dawson had followed the lead of this little bird and jumped from his perch.

Solitary Sandpiper

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not completely sure that this is a Solitary Sandpiper, but I didn’t want to let accuracy get in the way of a good story. Please let me know if my identification is incorrect.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I spotted this barn spider (Neoscona crucifera) hanging in the air about the same time she sensed my presence. She scampered up her web as I moved in a little closer. Eventually she climbed back down and I managed to get these shots of her in motion.

Initially I couldn’t figure out why she was hurrying down the strands of her web. When she stopped, however, I could see that she was anxious to finish off the snack that she had wrapped up earlier.

Although these shots may look like they were taken with a macro lens, they were actually taken at 600mm on my Tamron 150-600mm zoom lens. I ended up focusing manually on the spider, because my camera kept wanting to focus on the background, which was a good distance away. Additionally, I used my pop-up flash on at least some of these images to bring out some of the details of the spider.

barn spider

barn spider

barn spider

barn spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

A snake struggled mightily when snagged by a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias). The heron looked a little confused by the actions of its prey and seemed to be having trouble figuring out how to grip the snake. I was a bit far away when I took these shots so I couldn’t tell for sure, but it looked to me that the heron eventually dropped the snake and the snake escaped into the thick vegetation.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) are our constant companions at my favorite marshland park throughout the fall and the winter as the geese migrate south or choose to overwinter at the park. Several small flocks flew in yesterday, accompanied by the usual amount of honking and splashing to announce their arrival.

Folks at the park either love the geese or hate them (because of the mess they make). I enjoy seeing them and they provide me with lots of practice subjects to hone my skills in capturing birds in flight. Their interactions with each other are also fun to watch.

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »