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Archive for the ‘wildlife’ Category

Wandering Gliders (Pantala flavescens) are the most widespread dragonfly species in the world and are found on all continents except Antarctica. I was thrilled on Tuesday when one stopped wandering for a moment at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and I was able to capture this image. According to Wikipedia, individual Wandering Gliders can fly more than 3730 miles (6000 km)—one of the farthest known migrations of all insect species.

Wandering Glider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Most of my dragonflies have disappeared for the season. I will still occasionally spot a few survivors of the summer species, but their numbers are dwindling in the cooler autumn weather. One notable exception is the aptly named Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum). On Tuesday I spotted a good number of Autumn Meadowhawks while exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and captured these images with my long telephoto zoom lens—it is a bit of a challenge to focus on such a small subject with a lens zoomed out to 600mm.

In the area in which I live, Autumn Meadowhawks remain with us throughout October and November. I have personally spotted some in December and have heard of other sightings in early January.

Autumn Meadowhawk

Autumn Meadowhawk

Autumn Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Two Black Vultures (Coragyps atratus) appeared to be intently staring at me as I drew closer to them on Tuesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Were they sizing me up, hoping I might drop dead on the spot? As Halloween approaches, it is easy to feel a little creeped out in situations like this. Although I believe that they were simply curious about my presence, I did make sure that I moved around enough to ensure that the vultures knew that I was still alive.

Black Vulture

Black Vulture

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Any day that I spot a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is a good day. Yesterday qualified as a great day when I was able to capture an image of a Bald Eagle taking off from the slender branches of a tree at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

I was a bit shocked when I initially spotted the eagle perched in a cluster of leaves overhanging one of the trails at the wildlife refuge—presumably there was a branch in there somewhere, but it did not seem substantial enough to hold the weight of an eagle.

I zoomed in all the way with my 150-600mm lens and was able to get a pretty detailed shot of the eagle, as you can see in the final shot. The eagle turned its head in various directions and I knew that I did not have much time before it decided to take off. When the eagle turned its body toward the water and began to crouch, I tried to ready myself and anticipate the direction of its initial movement. In most of the shots in the burst that I took, the eagle’s wings blocked its face or extended well beyond the edges of the frame, but I was pretty happy with the one that I posted as the initial photo in this posting.

Why did the eagle choose such a precarious perch? I have no idea why, but I am happy that it gave me the chance to get these shots.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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We are in a period of transition. All around I see the signs of autumn, but summer has not completely loosed its grasp. Last week I spotted this female Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Eastern Pondhawks are among our most common dragonflies—they are still with us, but their numbers are clearly dwindling.

In this image I really like the juxtaposition of the dragonfly’s bright summer coloration with the more muted autumn colors of the fallen leaves, a visual representation of this time of transition.

Eastern Pondhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I spotted a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) perched in a tree last Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, calmly surveying the area, as shown in the second shot. As I drew closer, I could sense the heron beginning to gather itself.  I managed to capture the first image as the Great Blue Heron leaped into the air, preparing to take flight.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was so well hidden in a tree on Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge that I almost missed it. Fortunately I caught a glimpse of the sun reflecting off of its bright white head and was able to move close enough to capture this image.

As you may have noticed in recent postings, I have marked the changing of the seasons by changing my “walk around” lens from a Tamron 180mm macro lens to a Tamron 150-600mm telephoto zoom lens. This means that it is easier for me to get photos of birds like this eagle, but tougher, though not impossible, to capture images of the remaining butterflies and dragonflies.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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