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Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category

Despite the light rain that was falling, I decided to go on a photo walk yesterday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Most of the smaller birds seemed to have taken shelter in the trees, but I was thrilled to catch a glimpse of a couple of raptors that were perched prominently in the open. It was an interesting contrast to spot an American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), one of the smallest raptors in our area, and a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), one of the largest.

The sky was really overcast, so there was not enough light to reveal all of the wonderful detail of these powerful birds. Still, it was nice to be able to capture some images of birds.

Before too long the number of insects will start to diminish and my blog will become increasingly populated by birds. I figure that for another month or so, though, insects will continue to be featured most often, which is good news for some viewers and bad news for others.

American Kestrel

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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Normally I don’t do consecutive blog posts of the same subject, but I got such an overwhelmingly positive response yesterday to my images of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) that I decided to post a few more. All of these hummingbirds, the only species found in the eastern part of the US, will probably depart soon to winter in a warmer climate, so I figure I better take advantage of this opportunity while I have it.

The best chance to snap a photo of a hummingbird is when it hovers to gather nectar (or when it is perched), but I managed to capture the first image as the hummingbird was zooming on by. I love its body position.

From an artistic perspective, the second image is my favorite. The background is simplified and less cluttered than in other images and the bright color of the flowers really grabs the viewer’s eyes. The slightly blurred wings are in a wonderful position and help to emphasize the sense that the hummingbird is in motion.

The final shot was taken with a different camera. As I noted yesterday, I was shooting with my 180mm macro lens, but I also had my Canon SX50 superzoom camera with me. It has a long reach, but doesn’t handle fast action very well, so it mostly stayed in the camera bag. When one of the hummingbirds perched in a distant tree, however, I was able to pull it out and use it for this static portrait.

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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It was cloudy and there was intermittent rain, but some Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) were active at Green Spring Gardens yesterday. My macro lens might not have been the optimal choice for photographing them, but it is what I had on my camera and I was pleasantly surprised by the results.

As I have noted many times before, I really like my macro lens, a Tamron 180mm lens. Because of the crop sensor of my Canon 50D DSLR, the lens has an equivalent field of view of 288mm, which lets me use if as a telephoto lens in a pinch. The only down side of the lens is that it does not have any image stabilization so I have to pay attention to my shutter speed and/or use a monopod as I was doing yesterday.

I noted that the hummingbirds seemed to like a particular kind of flower, so I planted myself in front of a patch of them and waited. The hummingbirds returned several times and I was able to decent shots. As I was waiting, it began to rain a bit, so I opened my umbrella and kept shooting—the hummingbirds did not seem to mind the light rain. It must have been quite a sight to see me with my umbrella in one hand and my camera on the monopod in the other.

For those of you who are interested in camera settings, I was shooting at ISO 1600 in aperture-preferred mode with an aperture setting of f/5. The relatively poor lighting meant that my shutter speed generally was 1/500 or slower, which was not fast enough to freeze the motion of the wings, but did allow me to capture the body fairly well when the hummingbird hovered.

I have a few more hummingbird shots that I may use in another posting, but wanted to share these initially.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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I am back now in the USA, but thought I’d post one last image from my recent trip to Brussels. I spotted this young Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) swimming around in the small pond at the botanical garden. There were several other moorhens, but they all stayed in the reeds and I was not able to get a good shot of them. I really like the spiky feathers of young moorhens. When they become adults, their feathers appear to be much smoother in appearance.

Common Moorhen

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The vegetation at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge was so high recently that these two foraging wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) disappeared from view each time they leaned forward. It was like a game trying to figure out where they would pop up next. I played the game for for quite some time before I was able to capture them both in a single frame with their eyes visible—in most of the other shots the turkeys were looking away from me.

wild turkeys

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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It was wonderful to travel to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in nearby Vienna, Virginia with some friends this past weekend. Although I really enjoy going back repeatedly to familiar spots, sometimes it’s nice to move outside of the “box” and see something different, or at least in a different environment.

One of my favorite subjects of our little photo trip was this delightful Green Heron (Butorides virescens) that I spotted at one of the small ponds at the park. Green Herons are a lot lower to the ground than Great Blue Herons and are often difficult to find. I was lucky to see this one from a distance as I was circling the pond and managed to carefully creep close enough to have a low shooting angle and an unobstructed view.

green heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This past Monday I spotted this Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge as it basked in the warmth of the early morning sunlight. Earlier this year I would see turkeys regularly as I walked the trails at the wildlife refuge, but the last couple of months such sightings have been rare.

wild turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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