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Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category

Yesterday I was thrilled to get a glimpse of this impressive-looking Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I have seen Wild Turkeys at this refuge on numerous occasions, but this is one of the first images that I have been able to capture this spring.

I am always amazed when I come upon a male turkey displaying his feathers. I grew up in the suburbs of Boston and the only turkeys that I ever saw were those in the freezer at the supermarket, which did not look anything like this bird, and the cutout figures that we would pin to the wall to celebrate Thanksgiving. Somehow I always thought those cutouts were cartoonish caricatures—little did I know that wild turkeys actually look like those colorful figures.

wild turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This Green Heron (Butorides virescens) was practicing its yoga on Saturday while perched on the railing of a small bridge at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. In the first image you see the rarely observed giraffe pose—don’t try this at home or you many end up in traction. The second shot shows the green heron with its neck in a more relaxed position.

I am amazed by the amount of neck extension the green heron was able to achieve—I am willing to stick my neck out for others at times, but not to that extent.

Green Heron

Green Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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A couple of weeks ago I spotted a colorful Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) building a nest in a nesting box at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The warbler made multiple trips to the nest carrying a variety of materials in its bill. Each time that it got ready to leave the box, the warbler would stick its head out and look around. Although I tried repeatedly to capture the bird in flight as it left the box, the last image was the only one that was partially successful.

I am finally catching up on a backlog of photos—normally I post my photos within a few days of shooting them.

Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Shorebirds are always tough for me to identify—so many of them are similar in appearance. When I spotted this little bird on Wednesday at Occoquan Regional Park, I noticed that it was all alone. Half-jokingly, I thought to myself that maybe it is a Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria). When I later checked my bird identification guide I was shocked to discover that it actually is a Solitary Sandpiper.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, however, the name of the Solitary Sandpiper is not completely accurate—”While not truly solitary, it does not migrate in large flocks the way other shorebirds do.” On the same website I also learned the interesting fact of the world’s 85 sandpiper species, only the Solitary Sandpiper and the Green Sandpiper of Eurasia routinely lay eggs in tree nests instead of on the ground.

Solitary Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The sky was mostly covered in clouds yesterday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge when an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) decided to fly right at me after it had caught a fish.

I love the look of a head-on shot of a flying bird, but capturing such a shot is not easy. First, the bird has to cooperate and most of the time, it seems, birds like to fly away from me and not toward me. Secondly, I have to be able to capture and maintain focus on the bird as it is approaching, which can be a challenge with a heavy telephoto zoom lens. Finally, I have to calibrate my shooting speed so that I don’t fill up the buffer of my camera before the bird gets close.

Things worked out pretty well for this shot. If you click on the image and zoom in on it, you will see that I managed to keep those yellow eyes in reasonably sharp focus and even the beak is in focus. You don’t get a very good view of the fish—you will have to wait until I capture of profile shot of an osprey with its catch.

osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Many of you are aware that I have been keeping track of a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. When the eagle couple occupied the nest earlier this spring, the authorities set up barriers to keep the eagles from being disturbed, because the tree with the nest is close to the intersection of several trails.

I have checked the nest several times in the past month and there has always been an eagle sitting in the middle of the nest. As I looked through my telephoto zoom lens this past Friday from one of the barriers, I could see that an adult eagle was sitting at one side of the nest, leading me to believe there might be babies. I waited and eventually was rewarded with a view of one eaglet.

Last year there were two eaglets born at this nest. Perhaps there is a second eaglet this year too, but at a minimum I am thrilled to know that there is at least one new eaglet birth to celebrate.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Last Friday I spotted this Common Loon (Gavia immer) in the waters off of Occoquan Bay National Willdife Refuge.  I don’t think that I have ever actually seen a loon before, but this bird pretty much matches the image of a Common Loon in breeding plumage in my bird identification guide. The range maps indicate that Northern Virginia, where I live, is in a migratory area for this species. I am guessing that this loon stopped for a while on his journey northward.

Common Loon

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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