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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

It’s sometimes said that the camera adds pounds to a subject, so maybe these Yellow-rumped Warblers (Setophaga coronata) that I saw last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge are not quite as chubby as they appear at first glance.

I was trying to be funny, but it actually is true that the focal length of a lens can affect the features of a subject. Most of you have probably seen how a fish-eye lens can make a face look bloated in the middle and stretched out on the edges. Other lenses can produce less dramatic effects. Generally it is believed that you get the most flattering portrait of a human subject with a lens of 85mm to 135mm. Here’s a link to an interesting article at businessinsider.com that shows a series of images of a face that were shot with lenses from 20mm to 200mm.

In this case, I think the birds are taking advantage of the abundant food sources while they are still around. Some of these warblers may be continuing their journeys southward, but others may choose to spend part of the winter with us.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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What’s the price of freedom? Today in the United States it is Veterans Day, a day we set aside to honor all of the selfless men and women who have served and continue to serve in our armed forces, often enduring considerable sacrifice and separation for our common benefit.

In many other places in the world, today is celebrated as Armistice Day and 2018 is special because it marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the war that many hoped would be the war to end all wars. The world is still a dangerous place and military forces, I believe, are a necessary element in ensuring national security.

I served for twenty years in the United States Army, so this posting is as much personal as it is patriotic. I have lived through periods of time when veterans have been reviled and other times when they have been honored.

I hope that you can join me today in thanking and saluting all veterans for their service and it is my sincere prayer that your sense of gratitude will continue long after the parades are over and the celebration are completed.

(I spotted this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and since it is one of the symbols of the United States, it seemed appropriate to feature the Bald Eagle in this posting.)

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Downy Woodpeckers (Dryobates pubescens) are the smallest woodpeckers in North America.  They more than make up for their lack of size, however, with their inexhaustible energy. Their constant motion makes them fun to watch, but a challenge to photograph.

I spotted this male Downy Woodpecker earlier this week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. How do I know that it is a male? The males of this species have a little patch of red on the back of their heads and in each of these photos you get a small peek at the red on the head.

 

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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During a recent morning walk at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I came across some spiderwebs in the fields that glistened in the sunlight thanks to rain the previous night. Many of the webs were only partial webs and I wondered if perhaps the torrential rain had ripped them apart.

Light was mostly coming from the front, which made it a little tricky to get a correct exposure, but that kind of backlighting is the reason why the webs are visible.

The backgrounds were different for the different webs and most of the time I had to deliberately underexpose the images to have the webs “pop,” which meant that the backgrounds looked really dark. I was thrilled when I managed to capture the first image below with a background full of autumn colors.

autumn web

autumn web

autumn web

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Nuthatches are curious little birds. Most of the time that I spot one, it is climbing head first down the trunk of a tree.

Earlier this week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, however, I spotted a hyperactive White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) in the upper branches of a tree. In a series of corkscrewing motions that reminded me of a female gymnast on the uneven parallel bars, the nuthatch made its way up and down and around each of the branches.

If I were an Olympic judge, I would award the acrobatic nuthatch a score of 10 for its brilliant performance.

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some days the birds seem to keep their distance from me, so I do my best to capture modest images of them in their environment, like this Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) that I spotted in a field last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

I hesitated a little about posting this image, but I kept coming back to it when I thought about the shots that I wanted to share. I could enumerate technical reasons why this is a somewhat flawed photo, but there is something about the mood of the image that I find appealing. In the end, I decided to follow my basic approach of posting images that I like and letting others decide for themselves how they feel about the shots.

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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A small flock of Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) was active last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. They stayed high in the trees, but I did manage to get this shot of one of these distinctive and very cool-looking birds as they foraged among the plentiful berries.

Cedar Waxwing

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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