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Archive for February, 2016

Like a tightrope walker, this American Robin (Turdus migratorius) inched its way along a narrow vine at Huntley Meadows Park, its eyes focused on the prize that awaited it at the other end. Periodically the robin used its wings for balance and moved forward until it reached a steady position almost within reach of the berries.

With a quick thrust forward of its head, the robin was able to snatch one of the low-hanging fruits. When I left it, the robin seemed to be enjoying its prize with a smile on its face.

American Robin

American Robin

American Robin

American Robin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Not a goose

As I was watching some Canada Geese foraging in open water at Huntley Meadows Park on Saturday, I noticed a smaller, darker bird in the middle of the group. Clearly it was not a goose, but it too was wading in the shallow water and periodically pulling out tasty pieces of vegetation.

It looks to me like it is a Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus), a cool-looking species that I don’t see very often. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the “Rusty Blackbird is one of America’s most rapidly declining species. The population has plunged an estimated 85-99 percent over the past forty years and scientists are completely puzzled over what is the cause.”

Rusty Blackbirds often gather in small flocks, but I observed only this single individual. I kept an eye on the blackbird and was fortunate to get some shots as it moved in and out of the light on a frigid day at the marsh.

Rusty Blackbird

Rusty Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Although the temperature was 20 degrees (minus 7 degrees C) and the wind was blowing yesterday afternoon, I got fooled into thinking the bright sunshine would warm me up a bit. Most of the creatures at the marsh were absent from view, probably trying to keep warm in sheltered locations.

I was excited, therefore, when I head the unmistakable sound of a Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) at work nearby as I was walking along a path. No other woodpeckers in our area can match the volume of a Pileated Woodpecker when it is burying its bill into a tree.

I managed to locate the woodpecker and was a little disappointed that it was high in a tree in a location where it was obscured by lots of branches. Eventually the woodpecker climbed higher in the tree and I was able to get a few relatively unobstructed shots, although I had to take them at a pretty sharp angle.

My favorite shot is the one in which the woodpecker looks like it is stalking a prey at the top of the tree. Its eyes are fixed on the target and it seems to be trying to sneak up on it. In reality, I have no idea what the woodpecker was doing, but it made for an unusual pose.

pil1_13Feb_blog

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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My good friend and photography mentor, Cindy Dyer, is spreading the news about the two-page photo spread of some of my recent photos that ran in a local community newspaper. What she doesn’t note is that she is a source of constant support, encouragement, and inspiration for my photography as well as for my blog. Thanks, Cindy.

Cindy Dyer's Blog

Congratulations to my dear friend Michael Powell for getting his photos published in a spread in the local Mt. Vernon Voice newspaper. He was out shooting at Huntley Meadows one cold morning and the co-editor of the publication happened to be there. He asked him if he would like his work to be featured in the newspaper. He had a two page spread available to fill and Michael had to get him photos pronto. Nice showcase for your work, grasshopper! You can see more of Michael’s work on his blog at https://michaelqpowell.wordpress.com/.

Michael Mt Vernon Voice

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As the early morning sunlight hit the cattails yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park, this male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) seemed to be contemplating the start of the new day.

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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No matter how slowly and silently I move, a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) seems to sense my presence very quickly and immediately takes to the air. It’s really not that surprising, given the eagle’s amazingly keen eyesight that lets it spot prey from a long distance away.

Last weekend I spotted this Bald Eagle when it was perched atop a broken-off tree. Most of the previous times the stationary eagles that I have seen have been sitting on branches. When they took off, they seemed to push off of the branch a bit to gain some forward momentum.

In this case, the eagle appeared to initially push in an upward direction to gain a little height before flapping its powerful wings. Here are a few shots that show some of the stages of the takeoff process.

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some of my favorite photos are ones with a common subject and a simple composition, like these shots I took this past weekend of a male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) at Huntley Meadows Park. The blackbird was perched in a field of cattails and the morning light was beautiful.

Sometimes photography seems so uncomplicated—it just works.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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