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Archive for the ‘new year’ Category

Many of you know that I normally post every day—in 2018 I think that I missed only 12 days.  I used to be really obsessive about this and would get anxious if I didn’t have an image to post. Over time, though,I have mellowed a bit and so I am not at all concerned that I write a posting on New Year’s Day.

I have been in a contemplative mood ever since I did the retrospective look at some of my favorite photos from last year. As I looked back I simultaneously looked forward. I have never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, but my hopes and plans for this new year can be summed up in two words “more” and “better.”

Those two words are non-specific and subjective, but for me, that is the nature of my approach to photography. I strive to spend as much time as I can in the wild, opportunistically looking for subjects. When situations present themselves, I try to react as quickly and creatively as I can.

That was the case earlier today when I visited Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Despite the partial federal government shutdown, the wildlife refuge is still open. It was a cool and gray day, and there was not too much activity. I was therefore thrilled when I spotted this Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) feverishly pecking away at a distant tree.

The woodpecker kept its head down as it circled the branch, but finally paused for a moment when it was upright and I was able to capture this shot. Although the woodpecker is relatively common, the organic shapes of the branches really caught my eye.

I’m ok with shooting familiar subjects over and over again. What about you? Some people like to live “widely,” seeing lots of different things in different places, while others prefer to live “deeply,” seeing the same places in different ways and in different seasons. I tend to be in the latter group, but recognize that each person has his/her own comfort zone.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As another year in my journey through photography comes to a close, I decided to share a few of my favorite photos of the past year. I initially planned to choose one image for each month and that was doable for the first few months of the year. Once I moved into the prime seasons for shooting, though, there were so many good photos I couldn’t select a single one, so I chose multiples for those months and ended up with these thirty photos.

If you want to see the images in a larger size, all you need to do is click on one of them and they will then be displayed in a slide show format.

Thanks so much to all of you who have followed my blog postings and supported and encouraged me in so many ways. It has been a wonderful year and I look forward to more photos and new adventures in the upcoming new year.

Happy New Year to you all and best wishes for a blessed 2019.

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I don’t often shoot landscape images, but I was so taken with the stark beauty of the ice-covered world that I encountered on New Year’s Day at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge that I decided that I should attempt to capture a sense of the moment. I used the wide-angle capabilities of my Canon SX50 superzoom camera in the first two images below and shot the third one with the Tamron 150-600mm lens, the lens that I use on my Canon 50D for a significant number of my the photos featured on this blog.

icescape

icescape

icescape

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Sometimes when a bird fluffs up its feathers, its appearance changes enough that identification becomes more difficult than usual. That was certainly the case with this little Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) that I spotted on New Year’s Day at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The head and the tail looked normal for a Carolina Wren, but I had never before seen spots on the back of one.

Once again, experts in a Facebook forum came to my rescue and reassured me that this was normal behavior for a Carolina Wren. When they fluff up their feathers to roost at night, the spots are visible too, although in this case I suspect that the wren was merely trying to retain body heat in the bitter cold weather that we have been experiencing the last couple of weeks.

Carolina Wren

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I spotted this fluffy Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)on New Year’s Day at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. In this frigid weather, all of the birds seem unusually round as they try to retain their body heat.

I don’t recall ever seeing a Hermit Thrush before, but when I did a search in my blog, I was surprised to discover that I had photographed one in December 2016 eating berries—here is a link to that posting. At that time I could not identify the species and asked for assistance. I guess I did not internalize the identification very well, for I ended up asking for help in a Facebook forum again.

It is funny how we associate certain words with memories from out childhoods. When I hear the word “Thrush,” I immediately think of the “enemy” organization in the television series “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” According to a page on the IMDb website, “In the series, the organization was merely called Thrush. Ace paperbacks, which published a series of paperback novels based on the show, had one installment in which Thrush stood for The Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity.”

This winter I am spending more time outdoors and it is exciting to discover how many birds and other little creatures are active, even in the most inclement, inhospitable weather. The challenge for me is to stay motivated and dressed warmly enough to be able to spot and photograph these little beauties, like this Hermit Thrush, that may have traveled south to winter with us.

Hermit Thrush

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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How did you spend your New Year’s Day? When I arrived yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the sun had just risen. I was a bit shocked to see four other cars in the parking lot, given that it was only 7:30 in the morning. I trudged about the refuge all day (and have a bunch of photos to sort through) and as I departed at 6:00 pm, the full moon was rising.

It was a long, tiring day, but I can’t think of anything I would rather have been doing to start off the new year.  Just for fun, I’m also including the view from inside my car as I got ready to step out into the crisp morning air. I am not sure it was actually 5 degrees outside ( minus 15 degrees C), but that was what my car showed as the outside temperature. Eventually it “warmed up” to about 24 degrees (minus 5 C) during the day, though the occasional gusts of wind made it feel colder.

sunrise

moonrise

cold

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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So how are you feeling about the new year that has just begun? Are you feeling more like the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) on the left, agitated and out front, or more like the one on the right, mellow and content to remain in the background? (Photographed this past Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.)

I would never have thought of a bluebird when I thought of an “angry bird,” but it sure looked irritated or even angry about something. Perhaps it was a territoriality issue or a fellow bluebird had just cut him off in traffic without even signalling. Whatever the case, I love the intensity of the pose that I managed to capture.

I hope that this first day of the new year finds you at peace and optimistic. Best wishes to all of you for a blessed new year. 

Eastern Bluebirds

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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