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Hopping heron

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.

Hidden eagle

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.

Egret in a tree

It won’t be long until all of the Great Egrets (Ardea alba) leave my area and head for warmer locations. That makes each encounter now with a Great Egret even more special. Yesterday while I was exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I spotted this egret perched high in a tree. Initially my view was blocked by a lot of branches, but eventually I was able to maneuver into a position from which I could get an unobstructed shot.

I really like the way that the branches act as a natural frame for the egret. Additionally I like the whimsical element of the feather sticking up on the bird’s head—it reminds me of the cowlick that I had as a young boy, back when I had hair. Sometimes my Mom would lick her fingers and unsuccessfully attempt get my hair under control.

Great Egret

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

When I spotted this raptor flying over a distant field earlier this week at Occoquan Bay Wildlife Refuge, I suspected that it was a Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius). Although I do not see this species very often, Northern Harriers fly in a very distinctive way—they glide low over grasslands and marshlands, in part because they rely on their sense of hearing  when hunting.

I was a little disappointed that this harrier, which several folks in a Facebook birding group identified as a female, made only a single pass over the field and never flew very close. However, I am pretty happy that I was able to capture this image that gives you a good sense of the flight profile of the harrier and the environment in which she was flying.

Northern Harrier

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Yellow-rumped Warblers (Setophaga coronata) have returned in force to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. There are still lots of leaves on the trees, though, so it is a real challenge to get unobstructed shots of them. I catch sight of them moving in and out of the foliage, but only rarely do they pop out into the open. So I patiently watch and wait.

Here are pretty clear views of Yellow-rumped Warblers that I eventually managed to capture on Wednesday. Most warblers are in our area only briefly as they make their way north in the spring and south in the autumn. Yellow-rumped Warblers, however, remain with us for much of the winter, so I may have more chances to see them better as the trees gradually give up their leaves.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Female Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) come in several different color variations. Some, like the one in the first image below have a reddish colored body, like the male of the species—they are known as andromorphs. Others are brownish in color, like the one in the second image below, and are know as heteromorphs. Irrespective of the body color, though, all of the females have striking blue eyes.

Usually it is harder to spot females than the more brightly colored males, but for some reason, these two females were the only Blue-faced Meadowhawks that I saw as I was exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge one day last week.

Where were all the males? Maybe they were watching a sporting event or were congregating at a local bar (or both).  🙂

Blue-faced Meadowhawk

Blue-faced Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

Shining through

I was looking into the sun when I took this shot of a Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula pulchella) last week at Huntley Meadows Park. The body and the perch were silhouetted, but the light showed through the dragonfly’s wings and highlighted the beautiful patterns.

I really like the graphic, almost abstract quality of this image. It has a different feel than most of my other images that tend to provide more detailed views of the subject.

Twelve-spotted Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.