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Archive for January, 2017

I could hear the call of Red-headed woodpeckers (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) all around my head on Saturday at Huntley Meadows Park, but they remained hidden in the trees. Finally one of them stepped out of its comfort zone and went out on a limb, and I was able to capture this image.

Red-headed woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When the lighting was as dim as it was Saturday morning at Huntley Meadows Park, it felt like I was shooting in black and white. Fortunately there was a bit of color in the head and eyes of the little male Downy Woodpecker that I spotted high in the trees, framed wonderfully by the surrounding branches.

Downy Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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How do you find comfort when you are feeling agitated and anxious? I can always turn to religion or to nature or to my photography, but early this morning I realized how comforting it was to have Freckles, a small Cocker Spaniel, leaning into my leg as I sat on the couch reading the Washington Post. Her slow, steady breathing and the warmth of her body helped to counteract my rising emotions as I read the accounts and editorials about President Trump’s first full day in office.

Freckles is staying with me while her owners are out of town and she is really comfortable in my townhouse, which is not too surprising, given that she lived here for over a year before she moved to an apartment in Washington DC.  For her, a trip to the Virginia suburbs is like a vacation in the country, and she particularly likes to play around in the fallen pine needles of my small back yard.

Generally she is in constant motion, sniffing every square inch of the yard, but yesterday I got her to sit still for a moment so that I could take some shots of her. Here are a few of my favorites from our impromptu portrait session.

Freckles

Freckles

Freckles

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It was so dark and gray this morning that I initially couldn’t even see what was fluttering about in the underbrush not far from where I was standing. Finally it perched and eventually I was able identify it as a Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa), one of the few birds that I have encountered that is even smaller than a chickadee—a bit over three inches (8 cm) in length and a weight of .2 ounces (6 g).

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Periodically I will arrive at Huntley Meadows Park early in the morning, hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the local beavers, but I haven’t seen one in quite some time. It’s very obvious, though, that North American beavers (Castor canadensis) are present and active, because their lodge, built in part on the boardwalk, keeps getting bigger every time that I see it.

Gradually the beavers are taking over more and more of a bench on the boardwalk. I noticed this morning, when I took this photo, that there is barely room now to sit down on the end of the bench. In the past, park employees have had to remove some mud when the lodge extended too far across the boardwalk and it looks like that has been the case this  year too.

I’m fully expecting to see one of these days that the bench has been totally engulfed by the beavers and incorporated into their architectural plans. At that moment I will know for certain that the beavers have taken over.

beaver lodge

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It’s hard to read the expression in a bird’s eyes, but this male Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) at Huntley Meadows Park did not seem too thrilled that its large bill had gotten tangled in the weeds.

Northern Shoveler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A bright red male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) was buried in the bushes on Monday at Huntley Meadows Park. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get an unobstructed shot. I attempted to will the cardinal to move to a new spot and amazingly it flew to a perch on the upper railing of the observation deck and posed for me.

Maybe telepathy works!

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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