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Posts Tagged ‘Cameron Run’

It was below freezing and windy yesterday morning when I headed out with my camera. I didn’t expect to see many birds and was a little surprised when I kept running across Northern Mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos). They are pretty common where I live, but I just have not seen very many of them this winter.

The first one that I spotted was huddled inside a bush with its feathers all puffed up, probably in an effort to keep warm.

Northern Mockingbird

Another one seemed to be trying to warm up by facing the sun.

Northern Mockingbird

A final mockingbird seemed undeterred by the wind that was ruffling its feathers and boldly sang out a happy song, greeting the arrival of the new day.

Northern Mockingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Late in the afternoon I was walking along a stream when I suddenly heard some splashing at the edge of the water. Full of curiosity I peered though the bushes to see what was going on. I was looking almost directly into the sun, so all I could see was the silhouette of a bird that was bathing in the shallow water. I knew that I would not be able to capture the details of the bird, but what I really wanted to do was to capture the mood of that intimate moment.

I hesitated a little to post this image, because its flaws are evident, but somehow it speaks to me emotionally through its simple color palette, through the shadowy unidentified bird, and through the concentric ripples in the water. My usual rule of thumb is to post the images that I like, so here it is. I realize that my views of the image are really subjective and are tied to my memories of the moment—you had to be there.

bird bath

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It’s Hoodie season—hooded sweatshirts for me and lots of Hooded Merganser ducks (Lophodytes cucullatus) at Cameron Run in Alexandria, Virginia.

Yesterday I spotted this group of six males swimming around and hanging out together. Most of the time during the year when I see Hooded Mergansers, it is a couple or a mother with ducklings, so it was unusual for me to see such a large grouping. There were a few females too, but they seemed to ignore the males and for the most part kept to themselves.

Hooded Mergansers

While the single guys were burning off some energy, a couple found a quiet spot and decided to take a nap. I often see Canada Geese and Mallard ducks sleeping, but I am pretty sure that this is the first time that I have ever seen the little Hooded Mergansers doing so.

Hooded Mergansers

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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When I was walking yesterday along Cameron Run, a tributary of the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia, I was shocked to spot a hawk perched nearby in a small tree almost at eye level. I was on a paved bike trail that parallels the stream and there is a relatively steep embankment that slopes down to the water’s edge. The tree was located on that embankment.

When the hawk, which I think is a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) eventually flew away and landed atop a building, it screamed out repeatedly at some circling crows. It makes me wonder if the hawk had previously been hiding from harassing crows and that is why it permitted me to get relatively close without initially taking off.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday I was on a biking/walking trail that follows Cameron Run, a tributary stream of the Potomac River, when I heard the unmistakable  rattling call of a Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon). As I moved through the vegetation to investigate, I spotted a kingfisher perched on a rock jutting out of the water. I had my Canon SX50 zoomed out to its maximum length, but it wasn’t enough—I needed to get closer.

As I made my way slowly down a steep slope, my footing gave way and I unceremoniously slid for a short distance on my back side. No surprisingly I spooked the kingfisher. What was surprising was that the kingfisher did not fly up into the trees, but instead he flew to a more distant smaller rock that was barely bigger than he was. (You can tell that it is a male because, unlike the female, he does not have chestnut stripe across his chest.)

The kingfisher soon took to the air and was joined by another one. They proceeded to fly back and forth over a portion of the stream, calling out loudly the entire time. They didn’t actually buzz me, but they did fly in my general direction a couple of times before veering off. What was going on?

I got a somewhat blurry shot of the second kingfisher, a female, that confirmed my suspicion that this was a couple. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, “During breeding season the Belted Kingfisher pair defends a territory against other kingfishers. A territory along a stream includes just the streambed and the vegetation along it, and averages 0.6 mile long. The nest burrow is usually in a dirt bank near water. The tunnel slopes upward from the entrance, perhaps to keep water from entering the nest. Tunnel length ranges from 1 to 8 feet.”

This behavior suggests to me that there could be baby kingfishers in the area. I certainly didn’t see any babies and suspect that a nest would probably be on the opposite side of the stream from where I took these photos, an area that is more remote and inacessible.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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How much of the environment do you show when your primary subject is a bird? Normally I try to fill as much of the frame as possible with the bird through a combination of zooming and cropping.

Yesterday as I walking along Cameron Run, a suburban waterway that feeds into the Potomac River, I spooked a Great Blue Heron when I took a few steps in its direction. A smaller bird was also spooked and it flew to a rock in the middle of the stream. I was thrilled when I realized that it was a Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), a bird species that I don’t see very often.

It would have been easier to get a shot if I had been carrying my long zoom lens, but instead I had my 180mm macro lens on my camera. Fearful that the bird would take flight again, I took some initial shots and then slowly moved forward. As I climbed over large rocks toward the water’s edge, I’d stop and take a few more shots. After I reached the water, I decided to change lenses and put on the 70-300mm lens that was in my camera bag and, of course, the night heron flew off as I was changing lenses.

When I was at the closest point, I was able to capture an image that, with a lot of cropping, shows some of the beautiful details of the heron, including its startlingly red eyes, but as I looked over my images, that was not my favorite one. My eyes kept returning to the landscape shot. in which the heron is only one element of a beautiful composition of rocks and water.

What do you think? I’m posting three different shots of the night heron with varying amounts of background context, so you can see how the scene changed as I zoomed with my feet (and cropped in post processing).

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I’ve seen lots of Great Egrets (Ardea alba) over the past couple of years, but until recently I had never seen a juvenile one and had no idea that they were so small compared to the adults.

I caught this little interaction between what I assume is a mother and a young egret at Cameron Run, a tributary of the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia. The birds were standing on one of a number of concrete slabs that cross the entire width of the stream, presumably to slow down the flow of the water.

UPDATE: A number of more experienced birders have weighed in and pointed out that the smaller egret is not a juvenile Great Egret as I thought, but is instead a Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), a species that I had never seen before. As a result, the scenario below that I imagined is no longer valid—I’ll have to think a bit more about what herons of two different species might have been discussing.

The mother seemed to be giving instructions to the young one to stay put while she flies off to fish a short distance away.

Great Egret and baby

Mom gets a bit excited as she warns the little one to stay put

Great Egret adult and juvenile

The little one finally agrees

The mother eventually is reassured and takes off for the rocky edge of the water, hoping for a quick catch, so that she can feed the hungry youngster.

Great Egret adult and juvenile

Flying away for a little while

Great Egret in flight

Searching for the perfect spot for fishing

The young egret is left all alone to wait for the return of his Mom, hopefully with a tasty snack.

Great Egret adult and juvenile

Waiting for Mom

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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There is perhaps nothing more ordinary than this, a simple Cabbage White butterfly (Pieris rapae) on a small white flower (which is possibly a weed), but the ordinary can be extraordinarily beautiful.

Cabbage White butterfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday I decided to take a break from insects and went walking along the biking trail at Cameron Run, a tributary of the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia, where I encountered this Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax). As its name suggests, this species is usually most active at night or at dusk, so I was surprised to see one in the middle of the day.

As I was headed down to the water’s edge, I flushed the bird, which took off for some nearby rocks and perched on one of them. I got a couple of shots of the initial action, which gives you an idea of my initial view of the night heron.

In this the first and last shots, I think the heron was scratching an itch, which is a little tough when you are perched one-legged on a pointed rock. Eventually the itch was satisfied and the night heron flew off into the cooler confines of a leafy tree, probably to take a siesta until it was time to fish for dinner.

heron4_night_blogheron1_night_blogheron2_night_blogheron3_night_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Starlings are supposed to be common birds, but I never knew what they looked like up close, so I initially had a lot of trouble identifying the odd-looking bird in these photos that I took in early December.

I’m pretty sure now that it is a European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), a bird that was first introduced into North America in the 19th century by Shakespeare enthusiasts, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. What does Shakespeare have to do with it?

Well, Shakespeare mentions them in one of his plays. Steve Mirsky explained the reference in an article in Scientific American entitled “Shakespeare to Blame for Introduction of European Starlings to U.S.

“In the late 1590s Shakespeare noted the mimicking ability of the starling while writing Henry IV, Part 1. Hotspur is contemplating driving King Henry nuts by having a starling repeat the name of Hotspur’s brother-in-law Mortimer, whom Henry refuses to ransom out of prisoner status. “Nay, I’ll have a starling shall be taught to speak nothing but ‘Mortimer,’ ” Hotspur whines.”

In 1871, a group called the American Acclimatization Society was formed in New York, dedicated to introducing European plants and animals and birds into North America, according to Wikipedia. The group’s chairman was an avid admirer of Shakespeare and is said by some to have desired to introduce every bird mentioned by the playwright.  The Cornell Lab notes that the more than 200 million starlings now in North American are descendants of the original 100 starlings released in New York’s Central Park in the early 189o’s. Yikes!

I am always curious about the origin of bird names and learned from the Cornell Lab that the starlings got their name because their wings are short and pointed, making them look rather like small, four-pointed stars when they are flying.

starling1_blogstarling2_blog

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Do you ever sit by a window and daydream as you look out into the world with unfocused eyes? Somehow that was what came to mind when I spotted this Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) perched on a branch, framed by the trees. The dove seemed gentle and pensive, unlike so many of the birds (and people) in this area that are so driven, always intense and tense.

There is a real value in slowing down and daydreaming more in order to recharge my creative batteries. Sometimes I need a gentle reminder.

dove_framed_blog

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Do seagulls hunt ducks? That’s a crazy question, but that was the first thing that came to mind when a Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) started aggressively chasing a Hooded Merganser duck (Lophodytes cucullatus) with what appeared to be hostile intent.

I was walking along Cameron Run, a tributary of the Potomac River, when the scene started to unfold in front of me. The gull flew toward the dusk with its legs extended, like it was trying to snatch the duck out of the water. The duck immediately started bounding across the water (as you can see in the third photos) in an effort to escape the gull, but did not take to the air. When the duck got close to the bank of the stream, the gull turned away and left the duck in peace.

Was this merely a cranky gull or maybe a bully? Was it a territoriality thing? All I know is that it provided me a fascinating moment as I treated to a brief interaction between these two very different species of birds.

gull_chasing_duck3_bloggull_chasing_duck1_bloggull_chasing_duck2_bloggull_chasing_duck4_blog

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Before long, the White Egrets (Ardea alba) will leave this area for more temperate locations, so I was happy to get a few shots this past weekend of one of them at Cameron Run, a tributary of the Potomac River.

The egrets like to roost in trees that overlook this stream and the first shot shows an egret relaxing in a tree after I inadvertently flushed him. I am deliberately underexposing the image in an effort to keep from totally blowing out the highlights of this very white bird, but it is still very hard to capture any details on the body.

The second shot shows the egret out of the water and its pose reminds me of a dancer, with its slim body and long elegant neck.

If things follow last year’s course, the blue herons will remain in my local area for most of the winter, but the egrets and green herons will soon depart. I’ll be looking for more photo opportunities with them before they leave.

egret_tree_blogegret_standing2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I never fail to be excited by the sight of a large, powerful bird soaring through the air.

Earlier this month, as I was walking along Cameron Run, a tributary of the Potomac River, I spotted a bird heading right toward me. It kept getting bigger and bigger as it approached and I suspected it was a hawk or an eagle—it turned out to be an osprey. Fortunately I had my largest telephoto zoom lens, a Sigma 135-400mm, already on my camera and, after a few adjustments, I started snapping away.

I was shooting almost directly into the sun, so much of the detail of the osprey’s body are hidden in the shadows, but I was able to capture some of the details of its amazing wings, with a little backlighting. Click on the images to see a higher resolution view of some of these details.

It may seem that I am photographing insects and spiders these days, judging from my blog postings, but I continue to enjoy photographing birds. In fact, photographing birds in flight is one of the specific areas in which I hope to improve, so these photos may be a preview of coming attractions once summer is over.

osprey1_blogosprey2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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This past weekend I went back to locations where I have seen Belted Kingfishers (Megaceryle alcyon) in the past and encountered this male kingfisher (you may recall that the female has a chestnut stripe on her chest).

Initially he was on a wire above the stream, as shown in the second photo, but eventually he moved to a tree, where his pose looks more natural. He was pretty high in the tree and seemed to be surveying the entire area.

This was the first time that I was able to photograph the kingfisher with a longer lens and I had hoped to get some close-up shots. However, the kingfisher was not very cooperative this time and stayed close to the limit of the range of the lens. I was able to get pretty good detail in the first photo, however, despite a large amount of cropping, probably because I shot from a tripod.

As I said in a previous post, I enjoy stalking kingfishers—there is something about their look that I really like. I will continue to chase after them in search of better shots and hope they cooperate by staying in their current locations.

kingfisher1_blogkingfisher2_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Yesterday while walking along the banks of Cameron Run, a tributary stream of the Potomac River, I encountered this unknown insect. I have been so starved for insects (photographically-speaking, not literally) that I decided I had to try to photograph it.

The insect was pretty small and would fly (or hop) when I approached, so I decided to give it a shot with the lens that was on my camera, a 135-400mm telephoto zoom. I was pleasantly surprised with the resulting photo, which almost looks like it was shot with a macro lens.

I will try to identify this little insect, but am happy with the shot and am now convinced that spring is here if insects are reappearing.

insect_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I came upon a rock last weekend and my eyes were drawn to its shape and texture and the way that it seemed to be floating in the sky. Normally I don’t shoot abstract shots, but I somehow felt compelled to take this photo. I like the way it turned out—it’s simple and graphic.

rock_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I was outdoors a lot this past weekend enjoying the beautiful weather and managed to catch a glimpse of a pair of Hooded Merganser ducks (Lophodytes cucullatus). As is usually the case, they headed in the opposite direction as soon as they perceived my presence.

I was able to get a couple of clear shots of the male (the female kept ducking under the water). I especially like the duck’s reflection in the water, which looked almost turquoise. and the ripples on the surface of the water.

merganser1_blogMerganser2_blog

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Have you ever tried to will a bird or animal to change its position slightly to enable you to get a better photo? That happened to me this weekend when I came upon this Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos).

I crept close to him and positioned myself for an unobstructed shot with a beautiful blue sky in the background. The only problem was that the mockingbird was facing the wrong direction and his head was in the shadows.

So I started a mental conversation with the mockingbird, imploring him to turn slightly in my direction so that the light coming from the right would put a catch light in his eye. I didn’t dare to get any closer and continued to repeat the thought, “Please turn your head toward me, but don’t look directly at me.” Without moving his body, the mockingbird slowly turned his head and offered me an almost perfect profile shot and held the pose.

I like the way his tail and his claws turned out, but most of all I like his face. I think the mockingbird would be happy with this portrait.

mockingbird_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Today when I was observing Canada Geese at Cameron Run, a tributary stream of the Potomac River, I noticed one goose that looked really different. His bill and his legs were pinkish in color, unlike his companions, who had black bills and legs; his cheek patch was brownish in color rather than bright white; and there was a black and white mottled area between his eyes and his beak.

I went searching through identification guides on the internet and it seems likely to me that this is a hybrid goose and not a separate species. One of the problems with hybrids, of course, is that there are lots of different combinations that are possible. I saw one photo that looked a little like this goose that was a probable hybrid of a Canada Goose and a Greylag Goose, but it was from the United Kingdom. Some of the photos of the dark morph of the Snow Goose also look a little like this goose.

If anyone has any ideas, I’d love to have assistance in identifying this goose.

strange_goose1_blogstrange_goose2_blogstrange_goose3_blog

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I really enjoy watching woodpeckers at work—they are so determined and industrious. I find their simple black and white coloration (sometimes accented with a bit of red) to be tasteful and elegant. Usually I end up watching them from a distance or with my neck at an uncomfortable angle as I look high up into the trees or low near the ground.

This weekend, though, I observed a woodpecker—I think he was a Downy Woodpecker—at relatively close range and at eye level. He was hanging upside down on a branch and was systematically pecking away at it. I really like the lighting in this shot and the way it is reflected in his eye. My favorite element, however, is the feathers on the breast area. The texture is simply amazing and looks like almost like a loosely woven fabric. It is a nice contrast to the black-and-white feathers on his back that look like they are stacked from this angle.

I never tire of photographing the same subjects, whether they be birds, insects, or flowers. Familiar subjects somehow seem different when viewed from new angles or in different light.

Downy feather texture

Downy feather texture

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As I was out shooting today, I was happy to encounter Hooded Merganser ducks (Lophodytes cucullatus) a couple of times, They are the coolest-looking ducks in my opinion (although Wood Ducks are in the running too). It’s a real challenge to get good shots of them, because they are small, fast, and skittish. I would love to find myself in a position like Phil Lanoue, a fellow blogger and incredible photographer, who recently photographed a Hooded Merganser duck coming in for a landing next to him (check out his blog posting).

I’m still going through my photos, but this one jumped out at me. It shows two duck couples swimming in formation. What is unusual is that one of the pairs appears to me a male Mallard and a female Merganser. Oh, I know that some of you are thinking that such a relationship could never work, but true love always finds a way.

I can only imagine what their children will look like.

Mixed couple

Mixed couple (click for higher resolution view)

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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After two days that were heavily overcast, we finally had some sunshine yesterday, although the day started out below freezing.A light sheet of ice covered then pond where I have been photographing ducks and geese, and they had all disappeared.

Eastern Gray Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) were very active, though, taking advantage of the weather to scamper about and gather food. It was fun to watch them run around, sometimes chasing each other like little kids playing a game of tag. I came upon this squirrel on a broken off limb, enjoying a snack. He was high enough up in the tree that he did not seemed to feel threatened by my presence.

There was some beautiful lighting from the side and the back that illuminated his underside when he turned in certain directions. My first few shots were really overexposed. If this had been a human subject, I might have tried using some flash to add some light, but that did not seem to be the right thing to do for a squirrel out on a limb. So I intentionally underexposed the image, blowing out the background (which was mostly sky, so it wasn’t a problem). I recaptured a little of the sky’s color in post-processing and played with the settings to try to bring out the texture and color of the squirrel’s fur. I guess that I never realized before that the fur is not a solid gray, but is a mixture of lighter and darker hairs.

I especially like how the light hits the upper portion of one of his ears and the tip of his bushy tail. The reddish brown tones of the wood also help to bring out the colors of his face.  It was nice to have a cooperative, photogenic subject.

Out on a limb

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am getting better at bird identification, but there are so many little brown birds that it seems virtually impossible to distinguish one species from another. That doesn’t hinder me from attempting to take photos of them, generally with little success, because the little brown birds seem to like to stay in the middle of bushes.

Today, however, I was able to take a clear shot of one of the little birds (perhaps some kind of sparrow) when it perched on the top of a blue metal fence. I got close enough to capture a lot of the texture of the feathers (you should click on the photo to see it in higher resolution) and I found an angle to shoot from that left a uncluttered background streaked with light blue and brown. Even the fence itself is a pleasing element of the photo, providing a touch of color and geometry.

I don’t know why, but a number of my recent photos have been graphic and simple in their approach. My eye seems to be framing my photos that way and I am pretty pleased with the results.

Little brown bird on a fence

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One frosty morning this past weekend as I was was walking on a bike path, searching for a subject to photograph, I spotted a Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) sitting on a bush. The bird’s small head and long tail made it pretty easy for me to identify. I snapped off a couple of shots before the dove flew away. Following the bird in its flight, I watched as it gently took a spot on some powerlines, where several small, noisy birds already were perched.

I like the contrasts in the photo I took at that moment. The two small birds are shadowy and full of sharp edges, suggesting a kind of nervous, frenetic energy. The dove is larger, softer, and brighter and radiates a sense of gentleness and peace, undisturbed by the outside world. The parallel lines of the wires provide a man-made geometric structure for the natural elements and the sky provides a gradient-like backdrop to the entire scene.

Morning Mourning Dove

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Today was cloudy, windy, and overcast—definitely not an ideal day for taking photos. Sure, I like to have some clouds to cut down on harsh shadows, but you need sunlight to have shadows, and we sure did not have much of that today.

This afternoon I was walking on a path along a creek when small flock of birds flew into some nearby trees. They were pretty noisy and that attracted my attention. Looking though my telephoto zoom lens, I saw that they had an interesting silhouette, so I took some shots. They sky was already really light, but when I tweaked the exposure a little it went totally white and a really cool-looking bird emerged from the shadows. Usually I am pretty bad at identifying birds, but my initial Google search on the very distinctive yellow wing tips was successful in identifying this bird as a Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum).

Cedar Waxwing on a branch

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cedar Waxwings feed on mostly fruit year-round, one of the few North American birds that specialize in eating fruit. One of the consequences of doing so, however, is that they sometimes get intoxicated from eating fermenting berries. The range map for this species suggests that they may be present year-round in this area (we are close to the northern boundary), but this is the first time that I have seen one.

This photo is more “artsy” than realistic, but I like its graphic character. It looks a bit to me like an illustration, in part, I guess, because of the white background.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This duck tale has a happy ending, as two Hooded Merganser duck couples paddle gently down the stream, but a potential crisis had been averted only moments before.

It began like this. Five Mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos), three males and two females, were swimming upstream. Two of the males were in the lead, while the other male seemed to be carrying on a conversation with one of the females. Their course had them in the partial shade, not far from one of the banks.

At the same time, four Hooded Merganser ducks (Lophodytes cucullatus), two males and two females, were headed downstream in perfect formation on a collision course with the Mallard ducks.

What would happen when the groups met? Would there be a confrontation? Would they exchange information about the attractions of the places they had just passed through? Who has the right-of-way in situations like this?

The signals were a bit ambiguous at the first encounter, as one of the male Mallards tried to have a conversation with one of the male Hooded Mergansers, who had turned away. All eyes were turned on the two representatives. Would they be able to negotiate an agreement? If a fight broke out, it was clear that the Mallards had an advantage in both size and numbers.

Who know what was said, but it appears that an agreement was reached and a possible confrontation was avoided. The ducks peacefully passed each other and continued on their separate ways.

The first photo showed the Hooded Merganser ducks after the encounter with the Mallards, so sequentially it should go here. Did you notice that the duck formation had changed and that the males were now in the lead? Was this a protective, chivalrous gesture on their part?

Of course, I may have completely misread this situation. Perhaps the male duck ego is less fragile than the human one and the two male ducks were simply asking each other for directions when they met in the middle of the stream.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Reflections often look much better than the original objects that are being reflected. The water (and the objects in the water, like the rocks in this photo) can distort the “reality” and add a different tonality and texture to the reflection. As I was walking along the edge of the water, I was happy to finally find a patch of foliage with the fall colors of my childhood, but the beauty was marred by the utility poles and traffic signs of my suburban area. The reflection seems to have cleansed the image of those blemishes and shows a purer, more beautiful view, a view closer to what my heart was seeing.

Fall reflection

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When it comes to photographing birds, it doesn’t take much to make me happy. If I can get a clear shot of a bird with a relatively uncluttered background, that constitutes a good photograph for me.  By that low standard, this image that I took a week ago is a successful one. My bird identification skills are still so weak that I won’t even hazard a guess at what kind of bird it is, but I like this modest image of this little bird.

Little bird feeding in the wild

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It was early in the morning and I was walking almost directly east along a stream. The sun had already risen and was in my eyes, but I spotted a Great Blue Heron in the water. I was able to get a shot that I knew would turn out as a silhouette, but the heron was standing in such a way that I was pretty confident that his silhouette would be immediately recognizable. The glare caused the color to wash out almost entirely and there are all kinds of artifacts from the light, but I like the overall effect.

Great Blue Heron Silhouette

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I became engrossed watching some little shorebirds (or wading birds) this past weekend as I was attempting to photograph herons and egrets at Cameron Run, a stream tributary of the Potomac River. These small birds (there was a little group of them) would zigzag through the shallow water and periodically bob down to peck at some tasty morsel of food. They seemed to be aware of my presence and would move away whenever I tried to approach them, although they would not fly completely away.

I was unable to get any clear close-up photos of these unidentified birds, but I did manage to produce this image that I really like. There is a kind of graphic quality to the photo and the light and the reflections are nice, even though it is obviously no technical masterpiece.

Wading bird at Cameron Run

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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