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Posts Tagged ‘Alexandria VA’

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.

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Butterflies in October? October has been a crazy month weather-wise in Northern Virginia where I live. Yesterday we had a record high temperature of 98 degrees (37 degrees C) and it feels a lot more like summer than autumn. Therefore it did not seem at all strange that I saw lots of butterflies on Tuesday when I visited Huntley Meadows Park.

I spent quite a while chasing after this beautiful little butterfly, which I think is an Orange Sulphur butterfly (Colias eurytheme). Most of the time the butterfly would perch sidewards and then fly away when I tried to circle around to get a better angle for a shot. I was thrilled when I finallly managed to capture this image with the butterfly’s wings partially open. I also like the way that the light helped to illuminate some of the details in the wings.

I look forward to the cooler autumn weather that will eventually come, but for now I am continuing to enjoy some of the delights of this endless summer.

Orange Sulphur

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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My dragonfly season is not over yet! Yesterday, the 1st of October, I managed to get my first good shots of the year of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum). This species emerges a bit earlier in the season, but generally does not make an appearance until September. (Fellow dragonfly enthusiast Walter Sanford posits that they spend that interim time in the tree tops.)

I really love the combination of colors of the Blue-faced Meadowhawk—I find the colors to be striking without being garish. You might think that these colors would make it easy to spot these dragonflies, but they are small in size with a length of 1.4 inches (36 mm) and are found only in very specific habitats.

I have been searching unsuccessfully for these little beauties the last few weeks at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, my most frequent “habitat,” and ended up returning to Huntley Meadows Park, where I had seen them in the past. Huntley Meadows Park is a wonderful county-run marshland refuge and used to be my favorite location for nature photography. In recent years, though, the park has become a victim of its own success and there are often mobs of photographers on its boardwalk through the wetlands.

Perhaps I am a little selfish, but I do not like to share my wildlife experience with a large group of other people. For me, my treks with my camera are most often a solitary pursuit, a meandering one-on-one experience with nature.

What about you? Do you prefer to experience nature alone or with others?

Blue-faced Meadowhawk

Blue-faced Meadowhawk

Blue-faced Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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The milkweed plants were dirty and dried up, but I knew from past experience that there might be ladybugs crawling around on them. The first two plants that I checked were full of aphids, a favorite food of ladybugs, but I did not see any ladybugs at all. As I approached a third plant, I saw a flash of red and spotted a small ladybug crawling quickly down the stem of the plant. I was not as close as I could have like to have been, but managed to capture some images before the ladybug disappeared from sight.

I like the way that this shot turned out because the reddish-orange of the ladybug really stands out against the blues and greens in the rest of the photos. In case you are curious, the little specks of yellow are aphids. In this case, the aphids were safe, for this ladybug seemed to be in too much of a hurry to stop for a snack.

ladybug

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) are beautiful in any situation, but when you surround them with red, orange, and yellow flowers, they absolutely explode with color. I was thrilled when I spotted this Monarch during a short visit to Green Spring Gardens this past Saturday morning. The butterfly was initially quite skittish and flew all around before finally settling on what I believe to be some kind of lantana flower. I had to maneuver around to try to get a good shooting position, but the butterfly stayed put for a minute and accommodated me. I was super happy when I managed to include some of the colorful flowers in the background and I just love the way that the colors work so well together.

monarch

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I spotted this beautiful American Lady butterfly (Vanessa virginiensis) during a quick visit this past Saturday morning to Green Spring Gardens, a county-run historic garden not far from where I live. A lot of butterflies were active that day, but my eyes were immediately drawn to this American Lady, a species that I do not see very often. I had to chase it a bit before it stopped to feed on this flower, which was so popular that the American Lady had to share it with a much smaller skipper butterfly. The flower was growing near a fenced in area of public plots where people grow vegetables and the fence caused the striped effect in the background.

Although I spend most of my time photographing subjects in the wild, it was nice to visit a more cultivated place that was still ablaze with summer colors. I am quite conscious of the fact that the summer is slowly slipping away.

American Lady

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When I first started getting serious about photography almost seven years ago, I often went shooting with my photography mentor Cindy Dyer. Cindy is accomplished in many areas of photography, but she is particularly passionate about capturing the beauty of flowers with her trusty macro lens. I learned a lot about the art of photography by shooting flowers side by side with her and reviewing my images with her.

Yesterday she and I made a short visit to Green Spring Gardens, a historical, county-run garden not far from our neighborhood, and it was wonderful to see how many flowers were in bloom. I was especially attracted by the poppies that I saw growing in several areas of the gardens—the star-like centers of the poppies seemed to beckon me.

Here are a few photos of those wonderful poppies, which came in a surprising variety of colors.

purple poppy

white poppy

purple poppy

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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