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Archive for March, 2019

Yesterday I spotted this pair of Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) perched on a nesting box at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The female appeared to have nesting materials in her bill and seemed ready to build a nest. The only problem is that this nesting box, I believe, is currently being used by some Tree Swallows.

I don’t know for sure if this is the place where the bluebirds plan to make their nest and I never did see either of the bluebirds enter the nesting box. However, a short time later I spotted the male bluebird with nesting material in his bill, so it is quite likely that they are determined to construct a nest somewhere nearby.

Eastern Bluebirds

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Normally when I see a Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos), it is perched in a tree. This past Wednesday at Occoquan Bay National WIidlife Refuge, I spotted one foraging in a field. The mockingbird was perched on the stalks of the vegetation and periodically would bend down and grab a few seeds.

I love the way that the cooler tones of the bird contrast with the warmer shades of the vegetation and the background. That contrast makes this fairly common bird really stand out and shine.

Northern Mockingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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During one of my recent early morning forays to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I was thrilled to spot several beavers. I had seen plenty of gnawed off trees in the area around this pond, so I knew that there had to be some beavers nearby. You generally have to be really lucky to see one, because they are mostly nocturnal creatures.

There were three beavers when I initially spotted them swimming towards me. Two of them seemed to sense my presence as they got a little closer and dove underwater. One kept approaching and I was able to capture the first image, a head shot  of a handsome North American Beaver (Castor canadensis). The second image shows the beaver as it was swimming and gives you a better sense of the environment in which it was found.

beaver

beaver

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love the sweet sounds of a Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus), like this little beauty that I spotted on Wednesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  Most of the times when I see a Carolina Wren, it is hopping about in the underbrush, but sometimes when they are going to sing, they choose a higher, more visible perch.

Carolina Wren

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love the feeling of the early morning, when the sun is just beginning to rise. Some mornings begin with fog hanging over the fields, giving the scene an eerie feeling. On other mornings, the sun adds color to the sky and produces beautiful reflected light in the clouds. I never know what the sunrise will bring when I set out in the dark, but I love to start the way watching darkness give way to light.

I captured these images on separate mornings during this past week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.


early morning

sunrise

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This past Monday I spotted this juvenile Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) high in a tree at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Initially there were a lot of branches between us, but I was able to move slowly and stealthily closer to the little hawk and get a relatively clear shot of it.

Cooper's Hawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This past week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge I observed two large birds consuming large fish using very different techniques. The first, a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), carefully positioned the fish and then swallowed it in a single big gulp.

An Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), pictured below, used a much slower and methodical approach, tearing small chunks off of the fish. It takes a lot of bites to finish off a fish in this way. In between bites, the osprey would often look around to make sure no other bird was approaching and attempting to steal its catch.

When it needed to tug extra hard on the fish, the osprey would sometimes extend its wings in what I assume was an effort to stay balanced and keep from falling out of the tree. I believe that is what was going on at the moment when I captured this image.

Osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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