Feeds:
Posts
Comments

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

 

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »