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Posts Tagged ‘bufflehead’

I was thrilled Saturday when the sunlight illuminated the beautiful colors of this male Bufflehead duck (Bucephala albeola) as he was drying his wing feathers at the pond at Ben Brenman Park in Alexandria, Virginia. In the past I had gotten glimpses of the brilliant purple and green colors on the head of a bufflehead, but this is the first time that I have been able to capture them so well.

In most of my previous shots of a male bufflehead, those colors all blend together into a nondescript dark color. I was definitely helped by the way that the way the bufflehead had lifted himself partially out of the water in order to flap his wings, giving me a clearer view of its head..

bufflehead

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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From a distance, male Bufflehead ducks (Bucephala albeola) generally look like they are black and white.  Last Friday, however, the lighting was coming from a good direction and revealed some of the beautiful green and purple iridescent feathers on this bird’s head. The second image shows a Bufflehead couple and shows the dramatic difference in appearance between the male and female of this species.

Bufflehead

Buffleheads

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It was gray and overcast early last Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge when I captured this shot of a small flock of Bufflehead ducks (Bucephala albeola) flying away from me. Normally “butt shots” are undesirable, but in this case I like the almost abstract patterns of the birds’ wings and their reflections in the water.

Although this looks like I converted the image to black and white, this is more or less what it looked like color-wise straight out of the camera. No matter how I played with saturation, I could not bring out any colors in the shot. I think, though, that the monochromatic look of the final image is a pretty good match for the mood of that moment.

bufflehead

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Can birds smile? With rigid bills, it is probably anatomically impossible for birds to smile in the same way that humans do.

Sometimes, though, a bird will look at me in such a friendly, inquisitive way that it is easy for me to imagine that it is smiling at me. That was the case recently with this female Bufflehead duck (Bucephala albeola) that had cocked her head to the side and looked right at me.

I generally try to approach my subjects as slowly and stealthily as I can so that they will not perceive me as threatening. Of course, most wildlife subjects have much more highly developed senses than I do and they usually catch me in the act. Sometimes they will flee, but if I am lucky, they will simply smile at me.

bufflehead

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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As soon as I spotted this female Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola), she started to swim away. Then all of the sudden she stopped, turned her head, and seemed to smile back at me. This image captured our shared moment together.

Bufflehead

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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I love the way that Bufflehead ducks (Bucephala albeola) run across the surface of the water to gain speed before taking off, like this male bufflehead that I spotted last Saturday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The images were already pretty much monochromatic because of the limited light, so I decided to do a black-and-white conversion of them.

If you look closely at the first image, you will see that my camera’s shutter speed was fast enough to freeze the motion of the water, but slow enough that the wings are blurred, which I think enhances the sense of speed. The wing tips are blurred in the second image as well and we also have a really cool reflection of the bufflehead after it has successfully taken to the air.

bufflehead

bufflehead

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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For the first time in a while, a male Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) ventured close enough for me to get some shots yesterday when I was exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I have posted some photos of buffleheads fairly recently, but they have all been of females (or possibly immature males).

The shape and colors of these little water birds, especially the males, always strike me as cartoonish—like they were drawn by Disney artists.

Bufflehead

Bufflehead

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When I am watching water birds, it is hard for me to predict when they will decide to take to the air. Often they give no visible warning. Some species, though, need to dance across the water to gain momentum before they can lift off, like this pair of female Buffleheads (Bucephala albeola) that I observed last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

The one in the back had already started its takeoff maneuvers when I captured this image and a second later the second bufflehead was also skipping across the water.

bufflehead

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The light was so beautiful early this morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge that it looked like this male Bufflehead duck (Bucephala albeola) was swimming in the clouds rather than in the water, giving this image an almost surreal feel that I really enjoy.

bufflehead

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Bufflehead ducks (Bucephala albeola) recently were playing around off of Occoquan Bay National Wild Life Refuge, chasing each other around and even giving each other piggyback rides—or so it seemed.

buffleheads

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Although many ducks take to the air straight out of the water, some of them, like this tiny Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) need to get a running start. It is simultaneously fascinating and amusing to watch them bounding across the surface of the water to generate enough lift for take-off.

I saw quite a few Buffleheads today at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, but most of them were far away—diving ducks seem to prefer the deep water. This male Bufflehead was on his own a bit closer to the shore than the others. I had barely enough time to focus on him before he took off, but fortunately he was moving parallel to me, so I was able to retain focus on the bird and capture some of the water spikes that he was generating.

Bufflehead

bufflehead

Bufflehead

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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These three Buffleheads (Bucephala albeola) were a long distance away when I spotted them swimming in formation on the water at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge on 8 December, but they are distinctive looking, so it was pretty easy to identify them. In case you are curious, male buffleheads have white bodies and a big white patch on the head and the females have darker bodies and a Nike-like swoosh on their heads.

bufflehead

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The early morning light was a beautiful golden orange yesterday morning at Huntley Meadows Park and I was thrilled when I spotted a pair of Pied-billed Grebes (Podilymbus podiceps) and a Bufflehead couple (Bucephala albeola), two species of water birds that I rarely have encountered there.

I took these shots from a pretty good distance away, so I initially wasn’t sure what kind of birds they were. WhenI took a quick look afterwards at a couple of the images, the shapes and markings of these birds were so different from the usual birds that I knew I needed to do a little research. Fortunately they were not hard to find in my identification guide.

Somehow I can’t help but smile when I speak aloud the names of these two birds—they seem a little silly and slightly pejorative, though not overtly rude. I can imagine a grizzled cowboy confronting another and saying, “You’re nothing but a pied-billed grebe,” and the other cowboy responding, “And, you, you’re a bufflehead.” (My favorite bird name that makes a great cowboy cuss word, though, has to be the yellow-bellied sapsucker.)

Pied-billed Grebe

Bufflehead

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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