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Archive for the ‘Baby photography’ Category

On Wednesday I visited Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge to check on the eaglets in the nests there.  As the leaves continue to grow, it is becoming harder and harder to observe activity at several of the nests of the Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). In one of them, though, I managed to find a small visual tunnel and was fortunate to capture the first two images that show some sweet little moments between an eaglet and one of its parents.

The third image shows an eaglet in a different nest. As you can see, the leaves on the sycamore tree hid most of the nest. Previously I spotted two eaglets in this nest, so there may be another hiding out of view.

The final two shots shows the largest eagle nest at the refuge. The nest is so big and so high in the trees that it is difficult to tell what is going on inside of the nest. One eagle was keeping watch and the other adult appears to be in the nest. If you look closely at the nest right below the tree on which the eagle is perched, you can just make out the yellow beak of an adult eagle. The final image is a close-up shot of the nest that I cropped to show more clearly the eagle’s beak. The adult eagle is perched so high in the nest that it is possible that there is an eaglet or two in the nest as well—when an eagle is incubating eggs it tend to hunker down really low to keep the eggs warm.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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On Tuesday I hiked to the farthest Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, hoping to determine if there were any eaglets in the nest. During most of the year you can walk past this nest as part of a big loop, but the road is now blocked to protect the eagles, so you have to double back along the trail (a distance of almost two miles (3.2 km) to return to the parking lot.

This eagle nest is in a sycamore tree. Several years ago, one of the limbs gave way and during the off-season almost half of the nest slid to the ground. The eagles have done some repairs each year, but the nest is still relatively small. At this time of the year, there is a good deal of new foliage, so it is a bit difficult to see what is going on in the nest.

When I arrived at the nest, I noticed that one of the adults was sitting completely upright, which was a good sign. When the eagles are incubating the eggs, the tend to hunker down in the nest, with only their heads visible.

As I watched and waited, the adult eagle flew to some higher branches in the tree. My flow of adrenaline and sense of anticipation increased as I waited to see if an eaglet would appear. I was double delighted when two little heads popped up. The eaglet on the left seemed to be a bit bigger than its sibling and was probably the older of the two. In the second image, the bigger eaglet is looking upwards toward the branch where the adult was perched.

I was a long way off when I took these photos with my telephoto zoom lens, so they are not super quality images, but they provide proof that there are at least two little eaglets in this nest. As I noted in an earlier post, there is one eaglet in another nest on the refuge. The third active eagle nest is so large and high up in the trees that it is not yet possible to tell if there are any eagle babies in it—any eaglets will probably have to grow stronger and larger before the climb up to the the edge of that nest.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle babies

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was delighted yesterday to photograph an eaglet in one of the Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nests at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Last week, several photographers posted photos in Facebook of the baby eagle, so I knew for sure that there was at least one in the nest. I have been keeping a close eye on this nest, a small one that was used by ospreys last year, and knew that it would have trouble comfortably accommodating an adult eagle and a growing eaglet.

When I first arrived at the barrier that closes the trail, I could see through the foliage that an eagle was sitting upright in the nest, but I could not see an eaglet. I watched and waited and the eagle eventually flew away. A short time later, another eagle flew in and landed on a tree branch above the nest rather than in the nest. As the eagle approached the nest, a little head popped up and I was able to capture the first image.

The eagle in the tree kept watch over the curious little eaglet and I never did see the adult sit in the tree. After a while, the eaglet disappeared from sight—it was probably time for its afternoon nap.

When I departed the area to check on another eagle nest, the adult was still on duty in the tree. I passed by this nest one last time and noted that an eagle was now sitting in the nest. It may be that one of the parents is small enough to fit into the nest and the other one is simply too large. As the baby grows, I suspect that both parents will be forced out of the nest. I would not see the eaglet until the adult lifted its wing and I was able to capture the final image.

As you can probably see from the blotches of green in the photos, I did not have an unobstructed view of the nest. I am hoping that the leaves on the trees do not fully block my view in the upcoming weeks.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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It was really cool on Tuesday to be able to capture these images of a young Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) looking out from the large eagle nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The growing eaglet appeared to be quite alert and was sitting up quite high near the edge of the nest. I love how you can see the mottled plumage, dark eyes, and multi-colored beak of this eaglet in these photos.

The nest is high in the trees and there is now a lot of vegetation growing, so it was quite a challenge to get a clear angle of view. I am pretty happy with the results that I was able to achieve. The eaglet looks to be big enough to be flying, but I am not sure if that is the case. One of its parents was perched on some branches just above the nest, so I am pretty sure that it is not yet ready to go out on its own—eagles normally take about 12 weeks to fledge and then may hang around with their parents for another month or two.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One of the most exciting things that I have observed during this brief trip to Brussels has been a family of Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) swimming in a small pond at the Rouge-Cloître park. I have seen swans a few times before in the wild, but I had never seen baby swans. As you might expect, they are really cute. Both of the parents seemed to be very attentive to the little ones and stayed close to them at all times. The baby swans, technically known as cygnets, seemed to be very curious and energetic and interacted a lot with each other as they explored the world.

Swan babies

Swan babies

Swan babies

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was exploring the Rouge-Cloître (Red Cloister) Park in Brussels, Belgium last weekend, I could hear some excited peeping coming from a heavily-vegetated area at the edge of a pond. Peering through the reeds, I could just make out the dark shapes and brightly-colored beaks of a pair of adult Common Moorhens (Gallinula chloropus).

As I kept watching I began to see several smaller shapes and realized there were baby chicks with the parents—there were at least three chicks and possibly more. The chicks and the parents remained mostly out of sight, but occasionally I got a partial glimpse of one of them through the vegetation as they moved about and managed to snap off a few shots.

I am also including a shot of an adult moorhen that I spotted earlier in the day at another park, in case you are not familiar with this bird species. In the photo you can’t help but notice that Common Moorhens have large feet that lack the webbing that we are used to seeing in ducks.

Common Moorhen

Common Moorhen

Common Moorhen

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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When you have as many little ones as this Canada Goose family (Branta canadensis), you have to take roll call almost all of the time to make sure that everyone stays safely together.

I was trying to focus on the group of goslings that were following the adult when the adult abruptly stopped and turned around. The little ones drifted forward and I ended up with this shot. I love the way that the attentive parent is almost at eye level with the cute little babies and has its neck almost fully extended.

Canada Goose

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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While I was trying to get some more shots of the baby Barred Owl (Strix varia) at Huntley Meadows Park this past weekend, I managed to get some shots of one of the parents. I returned to the park the day after I got some shots of the owlet in the rain and word had gotten out about the baby owl. There were quite a few photographers present, including several with long lenses and heavy tripods. It was a far cry from the more intimate one-on-one session I had the previous day with the owl.

Fortunately there was somewhat better light than the day before and one of the parents was hanging around, keeping an eye on the baby, and was not hard to spot. Here are a couple of shots of that parent. It’s fascinating for me to note how the owl’s shape changes when it is hunched over versus sitting tall.

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

I never got a really clear look at the baby owl that day. Most of the time it sat on a distant tree with its back to me. Occasionally it would glance slightly over its shoulder and I got this shot during one of those occasions. It gives you a general ideal of the owlet’s body shape compared to the more elongated body of the parents.

Barred Owl

I thought I’d finish off this post with a couple more shots of the baby owl from my first encounter. The owl was closer to me, but I was shooting upward in a rather steep angle. The perspective is a little distorted, but you certainly get a good view of its fuzzy bottom.

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Like so many others at Huntley Meadows Park, I have fallen in love with this Hooded Merganser family (Lophodytes cucullatus), with its hyper-vigilant Mom and nine growing babies. Occasionally I will see them all huddled together on a fallen log, but only rarely do I a clear look at them. The ducklings are be full of energy, ready to wander in multiple directions, and the Mom seems to be more than fully occupied watching out for predators and keeping the group together.

Hooded Merganser family

hooded merganser ducklings

Hooded Merganser ducklings

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was thrilled on Friday morning to spot this Wood Duck mother (Aix sponsa) with thirteen little ducklings (if I counted right) at my favorite marshland park, Huntley Meadows Park. A few days ago, one of my fellow photographers was able to capture some shots of the moment when some newly fledged wood duck babies were called out of the nesting box by their mother and dropped into the water below. I suspect this is the same family, although I have been told that there are plenty of eggs in some of the other nesting boxes, so there may a lot more baby ducks soon.

I hope that all of the cute little ducklings can remain safe, but I remember with a tinge of sadness the experience of past years when I watched the number of babies decrease over time. The environment is hostile for these vulnerable little ones, with water snakes and snapping turtles as well as hawks and other birds of prey.  It has to be tough on the mother duck to try to keep them together and out of danger and it seems like she has to raise them on her own—the father duck does not seem to participate in the process.

Wood Duck babies

Wood Duck babies

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Make way for ducklings! Yesterday I finally saw my first Mallard baby ducks of the season at Huntley Meadows Park. I have spotted Canada Geese goslings multiple times this month and they are already growing quite large.

Mallard ducklings

The ducklings look so small and fragile and the Mallard Mom (Anas platyrhynchos) seemed to be doing her best to keep them tightly bunched together as they made their way slowly through the shallow waters of the marsh. When they paused for a moment, though, some of the ducklings wanted to explore their surroundings. When I zoomed in for a close-up shot of the babies, one of them wandered out of the frame, leaving only four to be featured.

This Mom is going to be really busy raising and protecting these little ones.

Mallard ducklings

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

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Conscious of his imminent departure for an overseas assignment, a Navy Dad cradles his infant son, ready to do whatever it takes to protect him. Fortunately Dad is not going to a war zone and in a few months his wife and young son will be joining him in that faraway country.

This past weekend I was privileged to attend a baby shower for the newest addition to my family. There was an official photographer for the event and he is the one who staged the first two photos. I shot around him and from different angles and generally tried to stay out of the way. The final shot was unstaged, though, and was one I grabbed while they were simply sitting on the sofa.

I am not used to taking photos of people and certainly not of babies, but I really like the way these turned out. Somehow I am fascinated by the baby’s hands and the different positions in the images—the clutching of the flag in first shot the semi-salute in the second, and the gentle grasp of his Dad’s hand in the final image.

Security? What can make you more secure than to be held in your Dad’s arms?

securitysecuritysecurity

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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