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Posts Tagged ‘Branta canadensis’

Some bird species are very territorial and will chase off intruders, while others are content to peacefully coexist with members of other species. Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) are definitely in the latter category—they barely reacted when this Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) passed through the middle of their flock, weaving his way in and around the much larger birds.

I love to capture images with multiple species in a single frame. In this case, I am curious why the duck chose to swim through the geese rather than going around them. Was he courageous and bold? Was he stubborn and determined?

How will you face the upcoming new year? Here’s hoping that, like this little duck, you will be able to move confidently forward towards your goals, mindful of the obstacles that face you, but unbowed by them.

 

Ring-necked Duck

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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It is almost impossible to take a good portrait of a group of youngsters, irrespective of species—they are invariably energetic and inquisitive, almost incapable of simultaneously looking at the camera.

Yesterday I encountered a family of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) as I walked down a path at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. They too were strolling down the path, stopping to peck at the vegetation along the way. When they became aware of my presence, they slowly made their way to the water’s edge and slipped into the water.

The cute little goslings had already learned their lessons well and stayed in a tight little group right behind one of their parents. Once they had paddled a little way from shore, the babies, however, seemed to lose their focus and started to wander a bit. The adult in the rear of the little group, though, helped to bring them back into line as they silently swam away.

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some birds are stealthy and fly silently through the skies. Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) would not fit into that category. They like to announce their presence for all to hear, like this pair that I spotted on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge as they were coming in for a landing.

Unlike at the airport, there was no need for a loudspeaker to announce this landing.

Canada Geese

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One of the first games that children often learn to play is called “one of these is not like the others” and I felt like I was playing that game this past weekend. As I surveyed the geese that dotted the surface of Lake Cook, a small, pond-sized body of water not far from where I live, it became clear that one of them was different, very different from the others. It had a pinkish bill and a white stripe on its head and pinkish orange legs and feet.

All of the other geese at the lake were Canada Geese (Branta canadensis). Was this possibly a French-speaking separatist Canada Goose? When I looked through my bird identification book, there was no such variant of the Canada Goose.

In fact, there were not very many geese from which to choose. “My” goose sort of looked like the images of the Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons), but not exactly. In an effort to get some help, I posted some photos to a Facebook birding page and received a range of responses. Most folks seemed to agree that this was a hybrid Canada Goose of some sort, but there was disagreement about the other part of the goose’s genetic makeup. Some thought there might have been a pairing of a Canada Goose with a domesticated goose, while others thought it might have been a Canada Goose and a Greater White-fronted Goose. I tend to be in the latter camp.

When I did a Google search on goose hybrids, I found there are an incredible number of hybrid variations. When it comes to bird identifications, I suppose I am going to have to be content with making my best guess—I refuse to take the next logical step of doing DNA testing of all of my subjects.

hybrid goose

hybrid goose

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Have you ever tried to shoot a group portrait? You get everyone lined up and facing the camera, but there is always one uncooperative subject. That was certainly the case with these Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) at a little suburban pond on Monday. The gaggle of geese was preening and cleaning themselves all in a row on a on a concrete bar sticking out of the water.

Canada Geese

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When you have as many little ones as this Canada Goose family (Branta canadensis), you have to take roll call almost all of the time to make sure that everyone stays safely together.

I was trying to focus on the group of goslings that were following the adult when the adult abruptly stopped and turned around. The little ones drifted forward and I ended up with this shot. I love the way that the attentive parent is almost at eye level with the cute little babies and has its neck almost fully extended.

Canada Goose

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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There were a lot of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) coming and going at Huntley Meadows Park early yesterday morning. This one was descending rapidly and coming in so fast that it looked like the goose was going to land right on me.

Canada Goose

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some mornings when I am out with my camera at Huntley Meadows Park, I am simply entranced by the colors, shapes, and patterns of the reflections of the trees in the water. For extended periods of time I will become lost in the ever changing abstract world of reflected beauty.

Any wildlife that happens to come into the frame is a bonus.

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reflect3_2Jan_blog

reflect2_2Jan_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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How do you capture a sense of motion in an image? One of my favorite methods, panning, involves tracking a moving subject with the camera set at a slow shutter speed. The results can be a bit unpredictable, but are usually fun, like these images of a Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) coming in for a landing this past weekend.

In this case, the shutter speed ended up being 1/60 of a second. I was shooting in aperture priority, but knew that the shutter speed would be slow, because of the limited light early in the morning. With my telephoto zoom extended to about 550mm, I concentrated on trying to do a smooth pan handheld. My biggest challenge turned out to be keeping the goose centered in the frame.

None of these images are perfect, which is typical of most of my panning efforts, but there are elements of each of them that I really like. Photos like these remind me that it’s ok sometimes to have photos that are not perfectly in focus.

If you haven’t tried this technique, I highly recommend it, especially if you like “artsy” images.

Canada Goose

Canada Goose

Canada Goose

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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As the sun gradually illuminates the trees and burns off the mist on the water, Huntley Meadows Park is especially beautiful, especially at this time of the year, when the trees are showing off their changing colors. The park was silent when I arrived in the early morning darkness, but gradually I could hear the sounds of birds singing and I couldn’t help but notice the arrival of a small flock of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis).

The colors of the foliage here in Northern Virginia are not as bold and striking as in some other parts of the country, but there is an understated beauty in the muted tones or red and yellow. I am not used to taking landscape-style shots (and a 150-600mm lens is probably not optimal for doing so), but I tried to capture some different scenes to give you a sense of the park where I take so many of my photographs. It’s a wondrous location, particularly when you consider that it is found in a suburban location.

autumn

autumn

autumn

autumn

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) are our constant companions at my favorite marshland park throughout the fall and the winter as the geese migrate south or choose to overwinter at the park. Several small flocks flew in yesterday, accompanied by the usual amount of honking and splashing to announce their arrival.

Folks at the park either love the geese or hate them (because of the mess they make). I enjoy seeing them and they provide me with lots of practice subjects to hone my skills in capturing birds in flight. Their interactions with each other are also fun to watch.

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Happy Mother’s Day to Moms everywhere, who loved us and supported us as we took steps toward independence, all the while keeping a watchful eye over us.

Thanks especially to my Mom, who is now in heaven.

Canada Geese

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I’m so desperate for the weather to warm up more and for insects to emerge that I got really excited when one of my fellow photographers spotted a small ant on one of the tendrils of a passion flower vine yesterday at the US Botanic Garden in Washington DC.

The ant seemed determined to follow the long and winding road.

winding1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The Canada Geese at my local marsh seemed thrilled that the ice on the ponds had finally melted and they splashed about happily in what looked to be a group bathing session. Their exuberance and excited splashing reminded me of a children’s pool party. Previously I had seen geese dip their heads underwater to get wet, but these geese took it another step and appeared to be doing complete flips underwater. There was so much activity that it was virtually impossible to isolate and capture the action in a still shot.

Eventually they needed to dry off and I got this shot as one Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) rose up out of the water and vigorously flapped its wings. There is something about the goose’s pose that I really like, with the curved wings almost mirroring the curved neck.

Canada Goose bath

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When you hang around with a gaggle of your closest friends, it’s hard to find moments of privacy or solitude. This Canada Goose seemed pensive as he walked alone on the ice, far away from the other geese that were clustered together near the unfrozen area of the pond.

Canada Goose

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Do you ever wake up and feel the need for a drink of water? That was apparently the case for this Canada Goose (Branta canadensis), who was sleeping one-footed on the ice. Fortunately a small amount of water had pooled on the surface of the ice and the goose was able to lean down and get a few sips of water.

A few seconds later, the goose stuck its head back under its wing and drifted off to sleep.

Canada Goose

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Standing one-legged on the frozen pond, this Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) briefly stirred to adjust its position as I passed by. A few seconds later, the goose slipped one leg and its head back under its wings and gradually drifted back to sleep on a cold winter morning.

In case you are curious about the physiological explanation of the one-legged pose and why the goose’s feet don’t freeze to the ice, check out this blog posting from last November by Sue of Back Yard Biology.

Canada Goose

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) have now invaded the ponds at my local marsh in full force, but the population seems mostly transient, with lots of arrivals and departures, particularly in the early morning hours.

Earlier this weekend, I continued to practice my skills in tracking birds in flight and took a couple of shots that I really like of geese flying in the early morning mist. In both cases I managed to capture a pretty good amount of detail on the goose and the background is a pleasing blur, especially in the first image, in which the hazy outlines of a distant tree line are visible. The goose in the second image was making a turn, preparing for an upcoming landing.

Canada GooseCanada Goose

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some of the reviews of my new Tamron 150-600mm lens suggest that it has trouble capturing birds in flight, so I was anxious to test out its capabilities and the Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) coming and going from my local marsh served as my initial test subjects.

These five geese were part of a larger group that was departing from the marsh and I started tracking them as they flew past me. Initially thought that one of the geese has flown out of the frame in the second image, but then I looked more closely and realized that all five were still there—the formation was really tight (or at least the compression caused by the long telephoto lens made it look that way.

Sometimes in the past I have had problems in grabbing focus on moving subjects, especially when the background is cluttered and is competing for focus. I was happy to see that I was able to acquire and hold focus pretty well and the geese are separated from the trees in the background.

I am learning how to manage this longer lens and, for example, still have trouble sometimes pointing the extended lens at a subject and then finding the subject in the viewfinder—the field of view is not very wide at 600mm. I plan to check out the different focus options for my camera to see if any of them will improve my changes of getting clearer shots.

Does it show that I’m pretty excited with my new lens? I’ll be sharing more images as I continue to practice and learn with it.

Canada Geese in flight

Five guys in flight

Tight Formation

Tight Formation

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some people love them and some people hate them, but there is no question that the arrival of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) signals the transition to a new season.

Yes, they are loud and often obnoxious. Yes, they are numerous and sometimes crowd out other species. Yes, their droppings are nasty and slippery. Despite all of that, I enjoy watching and photographing Canada Geese in the air and on the water.

There were only a dozen or so geese at my local marsh this past weekend, but I am well aware of the fact that this is only an advance party for the hundreds of geese that will move through this area, with some of them choosing to remain here for extended periods of time.  From the perspective of my blog, this is the first posting of the season dedicated to Canada Geese, but certainly not the last.

Canada GooseCanada Goose

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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A new month started quietly, with few animals, birds, or insects visible on a cold. overcast day. I walked around my local marsh for a couple of hours and experienced nature in a series of small encounters, signs of the changing season.

A lone swallow sang softly in a tree; (CORRECTION: A sharp-eyed reader noted this is a female or immature Red-winged Blackbird)

A mallow flower bloomed unexpectedly in the water;

A squirrel peeked out from behind some branches;

The trees showcased their muted autumn colors; and

An advance party of Canada Geese came in for a landing.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I watched the glorious sunset at my local marsh yesterday, I kept hoping that a V-shaped formation of geese would fly into the frame. I was happy to settle for this solitary Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) and an amazing pink-tinged sky.

sunset1_oct_blogsunset2a_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Folks may have mixed emotions about adult Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) and many consider them a nuisance, but I think that just about everyone agrees that goslings are really cute.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Some folks complain a lot about Canada Geese, but I enjoy trying to photograph them, especially when they are taking off and landing. It seems like the number of them has dwindled somewhat at my local marsh recently–perhaps some of them have migrated north.

Yesterday, this goose began to sound the alarm as soon as it became aware of my presence and took off a short time later, still crying out with its tongue extended. I managed to track the bird as it was taking off and to shoot a series of shots. The sky was pretty heavily overcast yesterday, so I had raised my ISO to 320 and figured that I would have enough speed to capture the action. What I didn’t realize at the time, though, was that my aperture was still set at f/11, because I had been shooting some landscapes just prior to these shots. I was in aperture priority mode and my camera chose a shutter speed of 1/1oo of a second.

In the first shot, the goose is relatively sharp and there is little motion blur, except for the background, which is blurred, I think, because I was panning as I tracked the goose. In the second shot, though, which preceded the first in time, the wings and the feet have some motion blur, which accentuates the feeling of the goose scrambling to get into the air.

I keep going back and forth in trying to decide which of this two photos I like better. The technical side of my brain wants to vote for the first one, but the artistic side prefers the second image. What do you think?

goose_alarm goose_alarm2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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Earlier this month, when the ponds were almost completely frozen over at my local marsh, I watched as some Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) zoomed across the ice at a very low altitude. It looked like they were racing each other. In the background you can see some potential spectators, but they didn’t seem to want to get caught up in a wild goose chase.

wild_goose_chase_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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What it would be like to fly like a bird? When I look at this photo I took recently of a Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) in flight, I feel almost like I am flying in formation with a gaggle of geese and have glanced over to look at one of my flying companions. The sad reality, of course, was that my feet were firmly planted on the ground and this goose flew by me at a relatively low altitude.

I’d still like to fly—perhaps in my dreams I can take flight.

goose_flying_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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What happens if you try to photograph a bird in flight with a shutter speed of 1/100 second? Under most circumstances, you get a really blurry image. However, if you can track your subject by panning the camera, you can freeze (or in this case, almost freeze) the action and as a bonus you get a really cool background.

It was pretty early in the morning and there was not a lot of light when I took this shot. Even though my camera was at ISO 400 and f/6.3 aperture, I knew that the shutter speed was not going to be fast enough to stop the action, given that I was in aperture-priority mode. That’s the main reason that I resorted to trying this panning technique. Getting the right speed for a pan is little hit-or-miss and I never know for sure how well it will work until I look at the results.

I’m pretty happy with this result, because I managed to capture a sense of motion in a still shot, a sense that is accentuated by the motion blur of the wings, as well as by the feeling of movement in the background.

goose_pan_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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So many factors have to work together perfectly to get good shots of a bird in flight—the lighting has to be right, the exposure needs to be correct, the shutter speed needs to be fast enough to stop the motion, and, most critically perhaps, the camera has to focus properly on the moving subject. Of course, it helps also to be able to capture the wings in an interesting position and to have a background that is not distracting.

I have been working on taking photos of birds in flight, especially Canada Geese, but it has been rare for me to get all (or even most) of the variables to fall into place at the same time. However, in late December I took a series of shots of a Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) that turned out really well. The background was the sky, which some folks don’t find to be very interesting, but at least the goose was not obscured by branches. Click on the photos to see them in higher resolution—I was thrilled that I even managed to get a catchlight in the visible eye.

The challenge for me will be to repeat this success with smaller birds that fly faster and less predictably.

goose_flight1_blog goose_flight2_blog goose_flight3_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Some birds (and some people I know) really like to make an entrance. This Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) made a big splashy arrival in the marsh that seemed to be intended to catch the attention of the spectators already there.

They did not seem to be impressed.

spectators_blog

Click on the photo to see a higher resolution view.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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It’s a bit of a cliché, but I really want to capture an image of geese in flight against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset.

There is certainly no shortage of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) around here and they seem to take off and land so often at my local marsh that it sometimes seem as busy as a regional airport. Beautiful sunsets, though, are harder to come by and many of our days seem to simply fade into darkness. Getting the geese to fly in a proper formation is an additional complication.

This is my most recent attempt at my aspirational image of geese at sunset. There are a few streaks of color and the formation is a little ragged. It’s not quite what I envisioned in my mind—I’ll keep working on bringing that image to life.

geese_at_sunset_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Like a sprinter, this Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) seems to be lunging forward toward a finish line, pushing hard to be the first to break that invisible tape.

leaning_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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