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Posts Tagged ‘Agelaius phoeniceus’

“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.

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Six years ago today my photography mentor Cindy Dyer sat me down and told me that I was going to start a blog. She showed me the basics of WordPress editing and navigation and helped me set up my initial pages. I don’t think that either of us anticipated the degree to which I would grow to love the process of blogging, a process that has allowed me to express myself creatively in both words and images

WordPress data show that I have published 2768 posts and have had approximately 170800 views. Those posts have included 429649 words (about 155 words per posting) and well over 3000 photos.

The importance of my blog, though, cannot be expressed merely in numbers. More significantly the blog has helped me to develop relationships with a lot of different viewers, to share with you the different steps on my meandering journey into photography. Thanks to all of you for helping me along the way and sharing your comments, suggestions, and recommendations. I especially owe a debt of gratitude to Cindy Dyer for motivating me throughout this entire period, for pushing me at times when I was hesitant, and for serving as my museThanks, Cindy.

To celebrate this anniversary, I thought I would reprise a few of my favorite photos. These are not necessarily my most popular images or my “best” images, but they are ones that are particularly memorable to me. I am also including links to the original postings so you can read the accompanying text and additional commentary about the circumstances under which they were captured.

Links to original postings: Visible Song (8 March 2016); Fox on a frozen pond (31 January 2016); and Rescue of an injured Bald Eagle (4 November 2014).

Thanks again for all of your support and encouragement over these past six years. The journey continues onward.

Visible song

fox on frozen pond

eagle resuce

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

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A large number of Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) were in the trees and among the cattails yesterday afternoon at Huntley Meadows Park and their raucous calls resounded throughout the park. The males seemed to competing to see who could call out the loudest and longest, as if to say, “Can you hear me now?”

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When I took this shot yesterday morning at Huntley Meadows Park, I assumed it was a female Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), because of its color and the pattern of the feathers. At home, though, it became clear that it was an image an immature male who is just starting to gain some of the markings of an adult male—you can just make out the beginnings of the colorful shoulder patch.

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The composition of these images couldn’t get much simpler, but I think that they help to highlight the beauty of this female Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) that I spotted last week at Huntley Meadows Park. Normally female blackbirds forage down low inside the vegetation, so it was a real treat to find one perched out in the open.

Female Red-winged Blackbirds are special to me because they were one of my first subjects when I started to photograph birds. I remember well my surprise when I learned that this bird was a red-winged blackbird, given that it clearly was not black nor did it have red wings. I’ve learned a lot about bird identification since that time and birds have become one of my favorite subjects.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I love the feeling of the early morning, when the world is awash in pale colors and the birds are just starting to wake up. It’s a magical feeling for me sometimes, and the mist in the air last Monday only enhanced that effect.

How do you capture a moment like that? I don’t shoot a lot of landscape photos, but I can understand how some photographers are driven to find the right mix of compositional elements to pass on to others the emotional impact of a particular scene.

As I was walking along the boardwalk at my favorite marshland park, I was drawn to this male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) perched on a railing leading to an observation platform. Normally I try not to include man-made elements in my wildlife shots, but in this case the railing faded out into an almost indistinct set of lines and shapes. Far in the distance, there is a suggestion of the trees and the water. With its bright shoulder patches, dark color, and sharper details, the blackbird provides an element of contrast with the rest of the scene.

Sometimes it’s fun to chase after more exotic subjects, like the owlet that I saw recently, but at other times I am content to try to capture the feeling of a moment, like this blackbird on a misty morning.

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am not sure why, but this male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) was acting differently this past weekend. Rather than standing tall and singing out loudly, as is normally the case, he was instead hunched over and making a more gentle peeping sound.

Was he in pain or distress? Was this simply a different way of communication? It’s overwhelming sometimes to consider how little I know about the behavior of the subjects that I try to photograph, despite the fact that I am learning all of the time.

From a photographic perspective, I really like the geometric. almost abstract shape of the blackbird in this image.

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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