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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

I was quite surprised and delighted to spot a male Calico Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis elisa) yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I thought I would have to wait another couple of weeks to find one of these tiny dragonflies that are only 1.3 inches (33 mm) in length, but perhaps our recent warm weather prompted this dragonfly to emerge early.

The Calico Pennant is one of a small group of dragonflies known as “pennants.” As you can see from these two images, pennant dragonflies like to perch on the very tips of flimsy stalks of vegetation where they are whipped about by the slightest breezes like pennants in the wind.

Calico Pennant

 

Calico Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Though their petals may shrivel and fall away, these tulips remain beautiful and elegant in my eyes. Is beauty eternal?

I am convinced that, despite the popular adage that “beauty fades,” beauty is in fact eternal when we broaden our perceptions and allow ourselves to look more deeply. One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite books Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) says, “On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.” (It is only with the heart that you can see well. That which is essential is invisible to the eyes).

Perhaps we need to change the familiar saying that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” to “beauty is in the heart of the beholder.”

tulip

Lady Jane tulip

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am not completely certain what these two muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) were doing on Monday at Huntley Meadows Park. It may have been only grooming, but to me it looks like muskrat love.

muskrat love

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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It was not quite as elaborate as Tchaikovsky, but the Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) at the small lake at the Donau-Auen National Park in Vienna, Austria performed their own form of water ballet this past weekend. Here are a couple of shots of the acrobatic moves of one of the swans and an overall view of the “Swan Lake.”

Mute Swan

Mute Swan

Swan Lake

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday the marsh was alive with the sound of music—frog music. As the temperatures soared to 65 degrees F (18 degrees C), the high-pitched sound of the frogs grew to almost deafening levels at some of the shallow vernal pools.

It was obvious that there were hundreds, if not thousands of frogs present in the area, but they seemed to be invisible. I managed to spot only a single one, this little Southern Leopard Frog that was partially submerged in the water at the edge of one of the pools.

In a few days the vernal equinox will arrive here in the Northern Hemisphere, marking the start of spring (according to the astrological calendar). The frogs obviously decided to get jump ahead a bit or are using the meteorological calendar, which calculates the start of spring as the beginning of the month of March.

Yesterday the frogs were loudly proclaiming that spring is here, and I am thrilled at the prospect of warmer weather and new life springing up everywhere.

Southern Leopard Frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This past weekend it seemed like we had been invaded by a large flock of American Robins (Turdus migratorius), busily foraging in the trees and in the grass, and these words kept echoing in my mind:

“A robin feathering his nest
Has very little time to rest
While gathering his bits of twine and twig
Though quite intent in his pursuit
He has a merry tune to toot
He knows a song will move the job along.”

Folks of my generation will immediately recognize some of the lyrics of the song “A Spoonful of Sugar” from the movie Mary Poppins. In case you don’t recall the song or have never heard it, here’s a link to a clip on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8VHc49ZdP4).

The song and the movie may be seem unrealistically squeaky clean by today’s standards, but I can never get enough of its cheery optimism. It’s one of my favorite things, like silver white winters that melt into spring.

robin_twig_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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A blue heron with attitude? The pose, facial expression, and hair style of this Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) at Huntley Meadows Park, my local marsh, remind me of a punk rocker. Do you think he has tattoos and body piercings too?

heron_punkrocker_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Growing up in the suburbs of Boston, I was never exposed to muskrats and my first impression of them may well have come from the Captain and Tennille version of the song “Muskrat Love.” So every time I see one now, that song comes into my head and I think of Muskrat Susie and Muskrat Sam doing the jitterbug out in muskrat land.

This past Monday I came upon this little muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) at my local marsh as I was trying to get some shots of a Green Heron. I was on the boardwalk, maybe 18 inches (about 45 cm) or so above the level of the land and the muskrat was close enough that I was able to get this shot with my 180mm macro lens. Once it became aware of our presence, the muskrat slipped into the water and swam away, perhaps returning to Muskrat Susie.

One interesting note about “Muskrat Love” is that the Captain and Tennille chose to sing that song at the White House in 1976 at a bicentennial dinner that included Queen Elizabeth as a guest, according to Wikipedia. If you have never heard the song (or if you want to relive memories of your childhood), here’s a link to a YouTube version. In the introduction to the song, Toni Tennille describes an impassive Henry Kissinger during the performance at the White House (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBYV_7a0FQs).

muskrat_sam_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As the light was starting to fade this past Monday, I made one final trip along the boardwalk at my local marshland park and suddenly heard some loud chewing sounds coming from the cattails. Although I couldn’t immediately locate the source of the noise, I suspected that one or more of the beavers was out and about.

Slowly I crept forward until finally I caught sight of a North American Beaver (Castor canadensis), vigorously chewing on cattail stalks. My camera was already attached to my tripod, which was a good thing, because the shutter speed was pretty slow, even when I cranked up the ISO. I didn’t have a really clear line of sight to the beaver and the best that I could manage was the second shot below.

After a short while, some other folks came walking by on the boardwalk and spooked the beaver. The beaver stopped what it was doing, grabbed a piece of a stalk in its mouth, and began to swim in my direction. I did not have much time to react, because there was not much distance between the beaver and me.

The third image shows the beaver as it was headed toward me. I decided not to crop the photo to give you an idea of how close I actually was to the beaver. I was shooting with my Tamron 180mm macro lens for these shots, so I had a moderate amount of telephoto capability.

The first image, which is also uncropped, shows my final view of the beaver before it dove and swam away under the boardwalk. Those of us of a certain generation can’t help but think of the Drifters’ song when we hear those words “under the boardwalk,” sparking memories of the days of summers past.

beaver1a_blogbeaver3_blogbeaver2_blog© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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When I get the urge to take some photos and don’t have much time, I like to walk over to a neighbor’s house and take photos of the bees that are usually buzzing around the lavender plants there.

A little over a week ago, I did a posting that had a super close-up shot of a bee. Today’s shot was taken from farther away and has the blurry background that I really like, with the bee still in pretty sharp focus in the foreground.  I like the way that the image shows the way the lavender droops a little from the weight of the bee and I also like the the second stalk of lavender standing tall in the mid-range area of the shot.

It’s a pretty simple composition, but the result is a pleasing image of a bee happily at work.

double_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I have been hearing the calls of this little warbler for several weeks, but today was the first day that I got some clear shots of the male Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas).

I was fortunate that the foliage was not too dense when I initially spotted the bird and even when he moved to a second spot in the same tree, I had a relatively unobstructed view. Birders at my local marshland tell me that the male comes north before the female and that soon the females, which are not so brightly colored, will arrive.

warbler1_blog warbler2_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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It is not well known that geese are jealous of their water fowl colleagues, the swans, for all of the attention they get in numerous productions of Swan Lake. Geese consider themselves equally adept at dancing and have picked up regional folk dancing during their long migratory travels through numerous territories. In this photo, a goose is practicing a variation of a traditional fan dance (and it turns out that geese, unlike humans, don’t need any props for the fan dance).

dance_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The weathermen say that is is going to rain almost all day today. That is good news, because we have had a really dry summer. It means, however, that the colors of the day are more likely to be drab and subdued.

This weekend I visited Green Spring Gardens, a county-run, historical park, and was excited to see that new flowers are blooming as we move into fall. It is well-documented that I have trouble identifying my photographic subjects and flowers are no exception. I don’t know the name of this pink flower that I photographed, but I like the way the image turned out. The composition is simple and graphic and the fuzz on the leaves and the blossom cause them to glow a little.

It is my hope that this dash of pink will help to counteract the blues that sometimes creep in on rainy days. The Carpenters were not necessarily correct when they sang, “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.”

Pink flower

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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