Advertisements
Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

There are barriers on several roads to protect the nesting eagles at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge from human interference, but with a long lens I was able to confirm on Tuesday that one of the Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was sitting on the nest. With a little luck, we will have eaglets again this year—last year there were two of them at this nesting site.

The two images below are actually different versions of the same photo. Initially I was going to post just the second image, but then decided to crop it a bit to give viewers a slightly better view of the eagle. I have also noticed that images in a landscape format display better in the WordPress Reader than those in a portrait or square format.

nesting Bald Eagle

nesting Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

Carolina Wrens (Thryothorus ludovicianus) are small birds that often remain hidden, but their loud songs let you know when they are near. I caught a glimpse of this one from an unusual angle last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Carolina Wren

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

As I was walking along one of the trails last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I glanced to the side and spotted this Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) perched at eye level on a tree that was really close. There was a lot of vegetation between us, but I managed to get this shot that did not have to be cropped at all.

Initially I did not think that I would be able to capture a usable image, because there was no way that I could get an unobstructed shot. I crouched down a bit and managed to find a kind of visual tunnel that provided a clear view of the head. The out-of-focus branches are a little distracting, but they provide the viewer with a sense that they are peering into the world of the hidden hawk.

Red-shouldered Hawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

This male Red-breasted Merganser duck (Mergus serrator) that I spotted last week in the waters off of Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge seemed to be having a bad hair day (or was going for a punk look). At this stage of my life, I’d be happy just to have a hair day.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “Red-breasted Mergansers are among the fastest flying ducks, clocking speeds of up to 81 miles per hour.” Wow!

Red-breasted Merganser

Red-breasted Merganser

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

“Environmental bird portraits” is a fancy way of saying that I was not able to get close enough to my subjects to isolate them and fill the frame. Although that is true, I like the way that these three images give you a sense of the environment in which the birds were found. Often I try to get so close enough to my subjects with a telephoto or macro lens that I lose sight of the “big picture.” These images, all of which were taken last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, give you some sense of the variety of birds and environments that I encounter when I am out with my camera.

The first image shows a pair of colorful Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) that took off as soon as they detected my presence (and I was a long way off from them). The male is the one that is in front, with the female just behind him.

The second image shows a Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus), the smallest hawk in the United States. This bird was the toughest one for me to identify and I had to seek assistance from some experts in a Facebook bird forum. There was some discussion about whether this was a Sharp-shinned Hawk or a Cooper’s Hawk, another small hawk, but prevalent view was the it was the former.

The final image shows a male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) as he sang out loudly from atop a tree. Male blackbirds are definitely not shy and the volume of their enthusiastic songs and calls is amazing, i.e. really loud.

Wood Duck

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Last year several of my most popular postings featured Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis). In response to one of those postings, one of my youngest followers, Benjamin, asked his grandmother why they were not called Orange Bluebirds, because the birds’ bodies seemed to have as much orange as blue. I appreciate all of the comments that viewers make, but that one comment has particularly stuck with me and it comes to mind whenever I see a bluebird.

On the last day of February, I spotted several bluebirds at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, my first sighting of the species in 2019. I was pleased to capture this image that shows some of the subtle coloration of one of those bluebird, with wonderfully varying shades of blue and orange.

As I was poking about on the internet looking for information on bluebirds, I came across a sweet little song by Paul McCartney and Wings called Bluebird. The song was on the album Band on the Run—I remember the album, but don’t recall having heard the song. If you want to hear the song, check out this link to the song on YouTube. As a sneak preview to the song, here are the lyrics to the first couple of stanzas, as found on the website of The Paul McCartney Project.

“Late at night when the wind is still
I’ll come flying through your door
And you’ll know what love is for,
I’m a bluebird
I’m a bluebird
I’m a bluebird

Touch your lips with a magic kiss,
And you’ll be a bluebird too,
And you’ll know what love can do,
I’m a bluebird
I’m a bluebird
I’m a bluebird…”

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I wouldn’t exactly say that this Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) was handsome, but you have to admit that it has an impressive wingspan display. I spotted this vulture earlier this week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Its spread wing position reminded me of a cormorant, which pens its wings like that to dry them out. I have no idea why the vulture felt the need to do so, but it held its wings open for an extended period of time.turkey vulture

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »