Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘birds in flight’

Yesterday I visited some family members who live on a farm. They have hummingbird feeders set up at various spots around the farmhouse and I was delighted to see Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) zipping about throughout the time of my visit. I would have liked to have gotten shots of the hummingbirds feeding on some beautiful flowers, but they seemed content to use the feeders.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, the only hummingbirds where I live, are small at about 2.8-3.5 inches in length (7-9 cm), so it is not easy to capture shots of them in flight. Most of my shots include the feeders, but I generally prefer a more natural-looking backdrop whenever possible, so I used these shots. It was a hot, humid day and I quickly wore myself out chasing after these energetic little birds.

In case you are curious, I was once again using my new Tamron 18-400mm lens. I would have liked to have had a bit more reach to get closer shots—these shots are significantly cropped—but I think that is the constant complaint of most wildlife photographers, even those with super telephoto lens. I’m pretty happy with the shots that I was able to get of these hummingbirds that look to be either females or juvenile males—I did see some adult males with their brilliant ruby throats, but, alas, was unable to get any shots of them.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

Read Full Post »

A speedy little Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) was perched on a paved path at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens last Saturday and I captured this first image as it was taking off. The shot is a little blurry, but I love the the really cool shadow that the swallow was casting onto the ground. The second image shows the same swallow just before it took off and give you a better view of the coloration and markings of a Barn Swallow.

When I first spotted the birds in the final photo, I thought they might also be Barn Swallows, but when I took a closer look and did a little research, I determined that the bird on the outside of the nest was a male Purple Martin (Progne subis) and the one with her head poking out was a female Purple Martin. As far as I can recall, this is the first time that I have photographed this bird species, which is the largest swallow in our area.

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Purple Martin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

I love seeing the differences between juvenile and adult Bald Eagles—the coloration and markings of the eagles change dramatically over time. Earlier this week I did a posting called Two eagles that showed two juvenile eagles perched in a tree. One of them was quite young and the other was almost an adult. It was really easy to see the differences between the two stages of development, with only the older one showing the distinctive white head feathers.

Today I am featuring in-flight photos of two eagles that I spotted last Monday while exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The first photo shows a juvenile Bald Eagle that looks to be about two to three years old. The head appears to be dark and the there is a mottled mixture of white and brown feathers. The second image shows a mature Bald Eagle with a white head and uniformly dark feathers.

It is an awesome experience for me when eagles fly almost directly over me and I love trying to get shots of them. I never fail to be impressed by their amazing wingspans, which can reach more than seven feet (213 cm).

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

When it comes to aerial skills, Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) are some of the most agile fliers that I have ever observed. On Monday I watched in awe and amazement as a small group of tree swallows swooped and zoomed over the waters off of Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The flight of these tiny birds was graceful and mesmerizing, full of acrobatic twists and turns.

It was a real challenge, though, to take photos of birds that are so small and so fast. I was especially happy when I managed to capture the first image that shows a pair of swallows with their wings fully extended. The second shot shows a swallow gliding low over the water—the shape of the bird reminds me of a stealth aircraft skimming low over the earth to avoid being detected by radar.

I did not realize that Tree Swallows had returned to our area. There are several nesting boxes at this wildlife refuge that Tree Swallows regularly use, so I will have to check them out soon.  Sometimes there is a competition between Tree Swallows and Eastern Bluebirds for the nesting boxes. I am not sure how they decide who will get to use the boxes, but somehow they figure it out. Tree Swallows

tree swallow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

Quite a few ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) have returned to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and I spent a lot of time last Thursday trying to photograph them. Most of my efforts were focused on trying to capture images of them in flight.

Ospreys will fly in circles over the water and occasionally will hover and glide a little as they search for prey, which makes it somewhat easier to focus on them than on many other birds. However, it’s still a pretty formidable challenge to get shots in which the eyes are visible and in focus and in which the wing positions are good.

For the first image, I did not react quickly enough to zoom out when the osprey flew overhead, so I clipped its wings in the photo. I think that it is nonetheless a cool shot that provides a good look at the feather details of the osprey and at its eye and beak.

In the second shot, I captured the osprey at a moment when it had its wings fully extended. I like the way that the osprey’s yellow eye really stands out in the image.

I am sure that I will get lots of chances to photograph ospreys in the upcoming months, but it is always exciting me to them again for the first time each year—another sign that the seasons are changing.

osprey

osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I was blessed to see multiple Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) last Friday during a visit to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I am used to seeing two eagle couples that occupy the nests plus a few other from time to time. On this day, though, there seemed to be a whole lot more eagles than normal.

Seeing eagles is great, of course, but getting photos of them is not always easy. In the first photo, the eagle was flying almost directly over me and it is challenging to hold a long telephoto lens upright and track a moving subject. I am pretty happy with the way that this one turned out. If you click on the photo you can see the wonderful details of the eagle more closely, including what looks to a band on at least one leg and possibly on both of them—to me it looks like the eagle is flying with leg shackles.

In the second image, I captured an eagle as it was preparing to land on its nest. There was a lot of activity at that nest on that day, with both eagles flying in and out of that nest. It seems a bit early, but I wonder if there is a change that the eaglets have already hatched. The only way that I will know for sure that there are eaglets is if they pop their heads up. However, the nest is so deep that it will probably be a while before the eaglets are big and strong enough to be seen.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I was looking into the sun when I spotted this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in a tree during a recent visit to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The eagle took off before I could get into a better shooting position, but I was able to capture some of the sunlight shining through its tail feathers.

I wish I had been able to frame the photo a bit better, but it is always tricky when focusing on a perched eagle to figure out how much to zoom out in order to capture its entire wingspan. In this case, I was worried more about adjusting for the backlight, so that I would not have a silhouetted shot, and was not worrying about framing the photo.

It is amazing to realize how many different considerations were coursing through my brain as I tried to analyze the situation, predict the possibilities, and react to changes. I remember how overwhelmed and paralyzed I felt in this kind of a situation when I was just starting to get serious about my photography some ten years ago. Now I am much  more comfortable with my gear and have a certain amount of muscle memory, so I am able to react more calmly and instinctively, without having to think consciously about all of the variables.

Every situation is different, though, and no matter how much I practice, there is still a spurt of adrenaline when a moment like this arrives and I realize I have to react instantaneously to take advantage of the situation. Things rarely works perfectly, but I am more than happy when they work as well as they did when I captured this image of the eagle’s takeoff.

bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Have you ever noticed the different ways that birds take to the air? Some of them flap their wings and seem able to almost levitate themselves as they rise vertically. Others make a running start in order to gain additional momentum before they lift off. No matter how they do it, the birds have to coordinate a complex series of small actions by their various body parts for a takeoff to be successful.

On Tuesday I was observing this Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) in a tree at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, when it decided to depart without warning. Instinctively I pressed the shutter and was able to capture this fun little photo. It looks like the first step in the takeoff process for this flicker was to leap from the branch and then perhaps glide a bit before engaging its wings.

Northern Flickers always fascinate me. I cannot help but marvel at the amazing combination of colors and patterns on the bodies of these woodpeckers whenever I see one.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Northern Flicker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I spotted Bald Eagle couples (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) near each of the two bald eagle nests at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge this past week, but I have not yet seen them in the nest itself quite yet. I believe that it is now mating season and it probably will not be long before the eagles start nesting.

This past Wednesday I spotted one of the eagle couples perched on an osprey nesting platform that is not far from one of the eagle nests. This seems to be one of the favorite spots for the eagles to hang out together and I have seen them at this spot multiple times in the past. I was a good distance away from the eagles, but was monitoring them through my telephoto zoom lens.

I sensed that they were getting prepared to take off, so I got ready prepared in case they happened to fly in my direction. I was delighted when they zoomed past me and was even more thrilled when I managed to capture this image with both of the eagles in flight.

It is pretty hard to photograph a bird in flight under the best of circumstance and really difficult when there is more than one bird. I would consider this one to be a successful shot.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Bald Eagles

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

The female Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) that I spotted last Friday at Huntley Meadows Park was too quick and too far away for me to photograph in flight when she took off several times to try to catch a fish. I did manage, though, to capture a short sequence of shots when she was returning to her perch after an unsuccessful attempt. Unlike many birds that would have approached the perch horizontally, the kingfisher came up out of the water vertically, appearing almost to levitate as she rose to her perch.

Normally I lead a blog post with my favorite or my best image, but this time I decided to leave the shots in the correct time sequence. The middle image in which the kingfisher was fully spread her wings is my clear favorite of the three, though I like the way that each shot shows the different body and wing positions as she stuck her landing–I would give her a perfect score of 10.

 

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I was thrilled yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge to spot this beautiful Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Unfortunately it also spotted me. I captured these images as the eagle began to take off and then as it was flying away.

I was looking for an uncommon dragonfly that had been seen recently at this refuge, so I had my macro lens on my camera and was mostly looking down. As I was passing through a section of the trail that had a lot of tree cover, though, I heard what I thought was the call of an eagle. I slowed down and started scanning the trees. I spotted eagle out on a limb when I stepped partially out of the tree cover. I knew that I was exposed and would be seen, so I positioned myself and prepared for what I anticipated would happen.

I am surprised that I was able to capture such detailed images considering that I was shooting with such a short lens—my 180mm macro lens has an equivalent field of view of a 288mm lens because my camera has an APS-C crop sensor. Be sure to double click on the images if you want to see the details of this majestic bird, including its beak and its talons.

In a way, however, it was an advantage that I was not shooting with my zoom lens, because I could focus all of my efforts on tracking the eagle and did not have to worry about zooming in and out. For example, if I had zoomed in on the eagle for the second shot when its body was compact, I would probably have clipped its wings when it spread them wide open in the third shot.

I did not find the dragonfly that I was looking for, but, as I have said repeatedly in this blog, any day that I see a bald eagle is a good day, especially when I manage to photograph it.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

I didn’t realize that this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was eating its breakfast when I inadvertently spooked it last Thursday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. There was no way the eagle was going to leave the fish behind, however, so it decided to take its fish “to go” when it took to the air.

When I first looked at this image, I was not sure if I liked it—it is pretty obvious that I was shooting through some branches and parts of the eagle are blurred out by them. When I examined the shot more closely, though, the positioning of the fish in the eagle’s mouth and the awesome details of the talons and tail made me decide that it was worth posting.

bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

Read Full Post »

As I was observing ducks and gulls earlier this week on a small suburban pond, most of them suddenly took the air. Instinctively I looked up, suspecting that there was a hawk or eagle overhead, and sure enough I spotted a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus).

I extended my telephoto zoom lens and tried to focus on the moving bird and was a bit surprised when a second eagle flashed across the frame—it was a pair of Bald Eagles. The eagles made several passes over the pond and I was happy to be able to capture these shots, including a couple of images with both of the eagles in the same frame.

This is the first time that I have seen Bald Eagles at this location, but hopefully will not be the last time.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

As I was walking along a trail last Tuesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge I heard the cry of an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) that sounded like it was really close. I looked up, reacted quickly, and managed to capture this sequence of shots.

In many ways I should not have been able to get these shots. I had the wrong lens on my camera. Instead of a long telephoto lens, I had my 180mm macro lens. My camera settings were more appropriate for a static portrait than for a moving subject. Fortunately I almost always have my camera set for continuous shooting, so I was able to fire off a quick burst and was pretty pleased with the results.

These images remind me of the importance of taking photos whenever and however you can. Conditions may not be optimal and your gear may not be perfectly suited to the task, but I think it is best not to worry about that when you find yourself presented with a photo opportunity—just shoot it with what you have.

Osprey

Osprey

Osprey

Osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

A Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) paused for a moment to check on its catch as it flew away on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Occasionally I will see an eagle flying with a fish in its talons, but it is quite rare for me to see an eagle actually catch the fish.

In this case, I was fortunate enough to spot an eagle circling low over the water and I captured a few images just after the eagle snagged the fish. In the second shot, which chronologically speaking was the first shot, you can just make out the fish. In the third shot, the eagle appears to be adjusting itself to the additional weight and is starting to increase its speed and altitude.

These are the kind of action shots that I love to capture. I never know when such situations will arise, so I always try to remain ready to react.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

On Monday it was cool and windy and I didn’t expect to see many birds at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I was pleasantly surprised to spot several Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) flying about. The wind seemed to slow them down a little and gave me a slightly better chance of capturing images of them in flight.

My favorite subject was this juvenile eagle. Sometimes juveniles can look somewhat bedraggled with their multi-colored feathers, but I thought that this one looked quite handsome, especially when the light hit it from a good angle and illuminated its body. One unexpected benefit was that it was easier to get a proper exposure with the juvenile because it does not have the extreme contrasts of the dark body and white head of the adults. In many of my shots of adult eagles, the body ends up underexposed and/or the head ends up overexposed.

juvenile bald eagle

juvenile bald eagle

juvenile bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

This past week I was thrilled to spot a Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius) on two separate occasions at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Northern Harriers are slim, long-tailed hawks. One of the things that distinguish these raptors from others is that, “unlike other hawks, they rely heavily on their sense of hearing to capture prey,” which is why they often fly low and slowly over the ground, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology .

During my first encounter, the harrier was flying low over a field. The first photo below gives you an idea of how close to the ground the bird was flying. It reminded me of my military training and the concept of “nap-of-the-earth” flight, a very low-altitude flight course used by military aircraft to avoid enemy detection and attack in a high-threat environment.

A few day later I spotted a Northern Harrier in the same general location. This time the harrier was soaring high above my head. I could not tell for sure if it was hunting, but it sure seemed to be keeping watch over things on the ground and appeared to be looking right at me.

I am not sure how much longer this harrier will be hanging around, so I will be returning to the same location within the next few days with a hope of another encounter with a harrier.

 

Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

I was thrilled on Thursday when a small flock of Tundra Swans (Cygnus columbianus) flew overhead while I was at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It is rare for me to see swans of any kind in this area. When I spotted the formation approaching, I initially thought they were Canada Geese, but as they got closer I could tell that they looked different and sounded different.

Tundra Swan

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I watched and waited for an extended period of time yesterday as this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) groomed itself in a tree overlooking one of the trails at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I was pretty much in the open at the edge of the trail and did not dare to move forward for fear of spooking the eagle. Fortunately I had my camera and long telephoto zoom lens on a monopod, because I know from experience that I would not have been able to hold it pointed upwards for that long a period of time.

I tried to stay as alert and ready as I could, which can be quite a challenge after a while. Sometimes a bird will signal its intent to take off, but this eagle took off without a warning. Acting on instinct mostly, I managed to capture the first image when the eagle was just clearing the edge of the branches. In the second shot, I clipped off the edge of the wings, but decided to include it to give you an idea of the challenge of trying to track the speed a bird when it first takes off. The final image shows you what the eagle looked like when it was perched in the tree before the takeoff.

bald eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Over the past few months I have repeatedly heard the screaming of hawks in the distance, but it has been rare for me to actually catch sight of one. I was thrilled therefore when I spotted this Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The hawk soared almost directly over me, providing me with a wonderful view of its fully extended wings and red tail.

This was one of the few cases when it was not an advantage to have my camera attached to a monopod. I ended up taking this shot with the camera held at a high angle with monopod sticking straight out, almost parallel to the ground.

Red-tailed Hawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Whenever I walk the trails parallel to the water at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge I try to stay alert, because I never know when a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) will come zooming by, as this one did last week.

I had my camera already set to relatively appropriate settings and my biggest challenge was to acquire the eagle in my viewfinder before it flew out of sight. I was fortunate that the eagle was flying on a level plane, so I did not have to worry about having to zoom the lens in or out. I took a burst of shots and the image below was the one that I liked the best, primarily because of the wing position and the catch light in the eye.

Each opportunity to photograph a bird in flight is unique. I never know when circumstances will work together to permit me to capture a good in-flight image, but it feels almost magical when somehow I do.

 

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

It has been quite a while since I last got a shot of a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), so I was really happy when I saw this young one in the distance earlier this week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Experienced birders can tell the age of a Bald Eagle by its coloration. All I know for sure that it is less that five years old, the age at which the head feathers turn white, though I have the impression that it is pretty young.

As is often the case, the eagle spotted me right afterwards and took to the air, but I managed to get a shot as the eagle flew off. When it comes to eagles, it is always a challenge to get a shot, because the eagle’s eyesight is so much better than mine and its reaction time so much quicker.  I therefore have to react almost instantly when I see one and then hope that luck is on my side.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

Recently I have been thinking a lot about the relationship between seeing and taking pictures as I find myself growing more and more acutely aware of the details in my surroundings. The more I shoot, the more I see and the more I see, the more I shoot. I am continually amazed at the things that I see and even more amazed that I am able to capture some of those experiences with my camera.

I have fallen in love with a quotation attributed to photographer Dorothea Lange, “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” Even when I don’t have a camera in my hand, I seem to be viewing the world differently than I did in the past. My sensitivity has undoubtedly been heightened by greater knowledge of my subjects and my skills honed by lots of practice and familiarity with my gear.

This past Friday, I spotted a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) soaring in the air over the waters adjacent to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. That was not very unusual and I was able to capture some shots like the second one below. As the eagle flew out of range, I noticed that it seemed to be decreasing in altitude and circling back, so I continues tracking the bird. Somehow I suspected that the eagle was tracking a fish. Unlike an osprey that drops straight down into the water to catch a fish, an eagle seems to pluck a fish out of the water as it flies by.

I watched in awe and wonder as the eagle caught a fish. My timing was off a bit and my shots of the moment of the moment of the catch were not in focus, but I captured this image of the eagle flying away with its catch, an image that I really liked. As I think back about the experience, I feel absolutely no disappointment that I did not photograph it better. Instead, I feel a kind of joy and exhilaration that I was able to experience a really cool moment in nature.

Photography has opened my senses to those kinds of moments and motivates me to spend hours on end trekking about with my camera in hand. Capturing those experience in images is a real bonus whenever I am able to do so.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

Eagles in flight are always a challenge for me to photograph, so I was really happy when I managed to capture this image of a bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that flew by me on Monday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge as rays of sunlight illuminated different parts of its body.

Quite often when I spot eagles in flight, they are really high up in the sky and it is difficult to capture details of the majestic birds. As you can probably tell from the angle of view in this shot, this eagle was flying at a relatively low angle when I took this shot. Additionally, the eagle was pretty close—I cropped some from the top of the original image, but not much at all from side to side. In fact, one of the biggest problems I had was keeping the eagle within the frame. On several other images I took, I cut off portions of the wings or of the body.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

When this immature Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) fixed its eyes on me on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and flew straight toward me, I couldn’t help but feel a little concerned. As it turned out, the young eagle was simply soaring and veered away—and my heartbeat eventually returned to a normal rate.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

At first I thought this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that I spotted today at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge had a really dirty head, but I’m beginning to think that maybe it’s simply the feather pattern of an almost-mature eagle whose head will eventually be all white.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

The weather was not very cooperative this past Monday, but my persistence was rewarded when I was able to observe a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) pulling a fish out of the waters off of Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Northern Virginia. On multiple occasions I have seen an eagle with a fish in its talons, but this was the first time that I actually got the see the eagle catch the fish.

The only downside was that I was quite a distance away and the light was limited when I captured the shots. Like most wildlife photographers, though, I feel inspired by the images that I do capture to go out again and again, often to the same places, with the hope and expectation that I will have more opportunities to make better images. Unlike Olympic athletes, I won’t have to wait four more years to have another chance to test myself.

bald eagle

bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

Read Full Post »

When I photographed a family of Tundra Swans (Cygnus columbianus) early in January at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I initially put off doing a post on them, thinking I would be likely to see more of them later and hopefully at a closer range. As time passed and I took more photos, I sort of forgot about the swans, even though it was my first time seeing this species.

As it turns out, I did not see any other Tundra Swans in January, so I thought I would feature them today. I initially spotted the swans across a wide expanse of ice near a small island. From the differences in coloration, I judged that there were two adults and three juveniles. I was a long way away and don’t think that I spooked them, but suddenly they took to the air. I especially like my in-flight shots, with the cool-looking clouds, but I am also including a shot of the swans in the process of taking off.

I took a whole series of shots and as I reviewed them, I realized how tough it is to capture an image in which all of the birds are facing the right way and have their wings in a good position. Actually, that’s a problem with any group photo, so I can’t blame the birds too much.

Tundra Swans

Tundra Swans

Tundra Swans

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge were really busy yesterday now that much of the ice has broken up and is melting. This heron caught a fish so big that it really seemed to be struggling to gain altitude as it flew away.

Temperatures in our area have been below freezing for almost a month and I was starting to get worried that the Great Blue Herons would starve. Somehow, though, they manage to survive. I did not actually see this heron catch the large fish. I first caught sight of the heron when it flew with the fish to a section of floating ice in the distance and tried to manipulate the fish into position.

Eventually it seemed to have decided to head for solid ground and I captured this shot just after the heron had taken off from the ice. I tracked it in the air as it flew to a little island in the middle of the bay, where I hope it was able to finally swallow the fish.

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Folks with more experience can tell the age of this immature Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) from its colors and the pattern of its plumage. As for me, I was thrilled to get a shot of it when it flew over me yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

I found a helpful posting on-line, A Guide To Aging Bald Eagles by Ron Dudley, that provides helpful tips and photographs for determining the age of an immature Bald Eagle. I am not completely certain, but it looks like this eagle may be in its second or third year, though I would welcome a correction or clarification from someone who has more experience with birds than I do.

immature Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

When a Bald Eagle took off from a perch with its partially-eaten fish yesterday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I didn’t zoom out fast enough to photograph its entire wingspan, but did manage to capture a rather fierce expression.

I spotted the eagle in the tree from a long way off and tried to approach it as quickly and cautiously as I could. The eagle was facing away from me and seemed to have its head pointing downward. Once I got a bit closer, I could see that the eagle was focused on eating a freshly-caught fish, which is why, I assume, it was not alert to my approach.

Every now and then, the eagle would look up from its late breakfast and do a survey of its surroundings, as you can see in the second photo. I think that it was during ones of these surveys that it spotted me. I was still a pretty good distance from the tree in which the eagle was perched, but I was standing at the edge of a wide path, so I was not exactly camouflaged,

Without any warning, the eagle took to the air, making sure to bring along the partially-consumed fish. I didn’t have much time to react, but was thrilled with the image that I was able to capture as the eagle zoomed toward me. I really like the eagle’s expression and the way that I was able to capture the white tail feathers.

I watched as the eagle flew to a distant perch, where it could finish its meal without further interruption,

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: