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Archive for January, 2019

Many of you know that I love dragonflies. I actively search for them not only in Northern Virginia, where I live, but also on work trips to Belgium and Austria. Liz, a fellow blogger from New Zealand, knows that I suffer from dragonfly withdrawal during the winter and posted this image to help me deal with my symptoms. Be sure to check out the other cool postings on her blog, Exploring Colour and also The Wandering Moa, a blog on hiking in New Zealand that was the source of this image of a really cool dragonfly.

Exploring Colour

dsc03279Click on the photo to enlarge (you may need to click again for full-size). Photo used with permission from The Wandering Moa

Apparently spelt “humongous” for Americans. I admit I’ve got some particular readers in mind as I post this: Mike Powell who photographs dragonflies in Virginia USA and young Benjamin who follows Mike’s blog and with the help of his Gram enthusiastically inspects all the detail of Mike’s photos.

Just two days ago I found a New Zealand blog newly started in early January – The Wandering Moa. Lili published a post about her first alpine tramp (serious hike) and her story included the encounter with this fabulous dragonfly as she was walking through an area of native beech forest. She kindly granted me permission to share the photo. The orange triangle is the standard plastic symbol used to mark walking tracks here. This is one massive dragonfly!

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Images of a bright red cardinal in the brilliant white snow—some might view such shots as a bit cliché, but I view them instead as iconic. I ventured out into my neighborhood earlier this week after the snow had stopped falling and was thrilled to find a small group of Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis). They spent most of their time buried in the branches, but eventually I was able to capture some unobstructed images of some male cardinals.

Although I like the details of the second shot, the first shot really draws me in by presenting a better depiction of the snowy environment. In some parts of the country this is a typical winter scene, but here in Northern Virginia, this is the biggest snow storm we have had since 2016, so it was pretty unusual to have this kind of photo opportunity.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Although I focus mostly on my attention on wildlife in this blog, many of you know that I am likely to take photos of almost anything that catches my eye. Early in the morning this past Saturday as I was scanning the waters off of Occoquan Bay Wildlife Refuge, I caught sight of some lights in the distance. As they grew larger and larger, I realized that it was some sort of ship and I was happy to get a shot of it as it passed by.

A close examination of the image and a quick search on the internet revealed that this is a twin-screw tugboat named the D. Gray Kimel. It was built in 1982 and has had several different names. When I saw it the tugboat did not appear to be assisting another boat, but I did learn that it is rated at 1350 horsepower, so it seems to be pretty powerful.

tugboat D. Gray Kimel

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love the way that Bufflehead ducks (Bucephala albeola) run across the surface of the water to gain speed before taking off, like this male bufflehead that I spotted last Saturday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The images were already pretty much monochromatic because of the limited light, so I decided to do a black-and-white conversion of them.

If you look closely at the first image, you will see that my camera’s shutter speed was fast enough to freeze the motion of the water, but slow enough that the wings are blurred, which I think enhances the sense of speed. The wing tips are blurred in the second image as well and we also have a really cool reflection of the bufflehead after it has successfully taken to the air.

bufflehead

bufflehead

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Passing by one of the duck blinds in the waters of Occoquan Bay this past Saturday, I saw a larger number of decoys set out and realized it was occupied. Consequently I braced myself when I heard the sound of approaching ducks and sure enough shots rang out. A few seconds later, I saw a duck hit the water not far from where I was standing.

I was focusing on the flailing duck with my telephoto lens when suddenly a dog swam into the frame. The dog, which appears to be a Labrador Retriever, approached the duck, circled around it so it would be heading in the right direction, and then swam back to the blind with the duck in its mouth.

I am not a hunter and prefer to do my shooting with a camera. However, I can appreciate the skill of both the hunter and the retriever in securing the duck that will probably make a tasty meal.

 

retriever

retriever

retriever

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love male Northern Cardinals in the winter. They add such a wonderful pop of bright color on a cloudy day, like yesterday when I took this shot, or on a snowy day like today (when I hope to see one in my neighborhood).

I spotted this Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) while exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, my current favorite spot for walking about with my camera. We have already had about 6 inches (10 cm) of snow and more is falling, so I probably will not make it out of the neighborhood today. The streets are not yet clear and people in this area tend to drive even more crazily than normal when there is snow.

I took a number of shots of the cardinal while he was perched in a distant tree. Although he remained relatively stationary, he kept changing his tail position, so I decided to include shots with different “poses.”

Northern cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do eagles kiss? I am not sure if they do, but these two Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) were definitely beak-to-beak this morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

After a week in the urban confines of Brussels, Belgium, it was nice to get out in the wild again, though I must confess that I was still somewhat jet-lagged. Not long ago I posted a photo of an eagle couple on this same perch and I suspect that this is the same pair. Earlier I had seen another eagle couple near another nesting site. Last year I was thrilled to get a peek at some young eaglets and I am hoping to be able to do the same this year.

kissing eagles

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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