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Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category

As we move forward into spring, more and more birds are returning to my local area after spending the winter in warmer spots. This past week I was happy to welcome the return of some Eastern Phoebes (Sayornis phoebe) to Occoquan Bay National WIldlife Refuge.

Two things always stand out to me when I see these little flycatchers—their heads seem unusually large and their tails are constantly flicking. Heads or tails? In either case I know it is an Eastern Phoebe. 🙂

Eastern Phoebe

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do you ever feel the need to scream at the top of your lungs like this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that I spotted on Saturday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge? I think that most of us have moments in our lives when our emotions overwhelm us and we feel a need to vent. Why not scream? 

As the old children’s rhyme tells us, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.” 🙂

screaming eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Saturday morning at dawn I noted than an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) had already claimed the most prominent nesting site at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. There are several man-made nesting platforms scattered through the wildlife refuge and there are usually some additional osprey nests in trees and one on the top of a hunting blind on stilts in the water. This particular nesting platform is visible from the parking lot, so it was easy to check to see if it was occupied.

osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) were back at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge this past Thursday and they seemed a bit cranky. They carried on their heated disputes in the air and on the ground as they checked out nesting boxes.

I don’t know if you have ever observed Tree Swallows, but they are small and fast. Worst of all from the perspective of a photographer, they fly erratically and turn quickly and often. For those reason, I am especially happy with the first image. I should note that it is a cropped image—the original image had a lot more sky showing.

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was initially facing away from me on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  Somehow, though, the eagle sensed me approaching and turned its head slightly to glare at me. The eagle seemed to take a little time to check me out before deciding to take off.

I am presenting the images below in reverse chronological order, starting with the “glare” and working backwards in time to the moment when I first spotted the eagle. I had just rounded the bend of a trail and lookeding upwards was shocked to see that I was almost directly this eagle. It is definitely rare for me to get this close to an eagle and to get such detailed shots of its feathers.

bald eagle

bald eagle

bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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How do you mark the beginning of spring? For some, it is the time when crocuses and daffodils begin to bloom. Here in the Washington D.C. area, one of the signs of spring is the blossoming of the cherry trees.

For me, I consider spring to have sprung when Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) reappear. These impressive raptors, sometimes referred to as fish hawks, depart in the autumn and throughout the winter I eagerly await their return. Why? I gladly spend countless hour in fascination and enchantment as I watch osprey soaring through the skies, hovering in the air, and occasionally plunging feet-first into the water to catch a fish. It is also fun to watch them gathering materials to build or repair nests.

Yesterday I spotted my first ospreys this season while exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge on an unusually warm and sunny March day. Here are a couple of my favorite shots from those encounters, which mark the return of the ospreys for 2019.

Osprey

osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Most of the Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) that I have seen in 2019 have been females, which have more subdued colors than their male counterparts. I was happy recently when I finally captured an image of one of the flashy male bluebirds at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

In my experience, bluebirds have a universal appeal—virtually everyone finds them to be beautiful.

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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