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Posts Tagged ‘cattail’

November arrived as a cold, overcast, windy day and there was not much wildlife moving around (and no insects at all). All around me I noticed signs of autumn and I decided to try to capture the feeling of the changing season at my local marsh. I took lots of photos of the fall foliage, but somehow I liked this image best as a graphic depiction of autumn at my favorite marsh.

autumn cattail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Although it is exciting to search for new birds or for unusual interactions, I love to return to familiar subjects, like this male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) that I photographed last week.

There is nothing complicated about this image, a blackbird perched on a cattail, but the small details make it special for me. I like the angled body and the turned head. The feathers seem unusually glossy and the eye is shiny too. There are a few wispy feathers that are matched by the “fluff” from the cattail. The background is brown, but there are a wide variety of shapes and shades.

What does it take for you to be satisfied as a photographer? For now at least, I am content to stay relatively close to home and photograph whatever I can find as well as I can. Life doesn’t have to be complicated all of the time.

blackbird_turned_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was checking out the cattails that are growing like crazy at my local marsh, I spotted this little beetle chewing on the soft insides of a broken cattail.  I immediately recognized him as a Spotted Cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata), a species that I encountered numerous times last summer when photographing flowers.

I really like the texture of the immature cattail, both on the outside as well as on the inside, and the bold design of the beetle.  I think that those elements and the varied shades of green make for a cool, graphic image.

cucumber1_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I am not sure if she was searching for food or was gathering nesting materials, but this female Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) was relentlessly attacking a cattail stalk. She paused for a minute and looked up, providing me with this photo op.

I like the way that her bill and her feet are covered with the cottony inner fibers of the cattail. The shadowy image of the male Red-winged Blackbird, with his distinctive shoulder patches, adds a interesting element to the background.

blackbirds_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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There is just something about this Red-winged Blackbird that makes me laugh. Perhaps it is his whimsical little half-smile or the way that he has cocked his head. Maybe it is the way that his feathers stick out like a little boy’s cowlick or the glint in his eyes or the way he is perched on the cattail. All of these features give him an almost comical look that I really enjoy.

blackbird1_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I tend to look at cattails primarily as a place for interesting birds and insects to perch, but earlier this month I was really struck by the beauty, texture, colors, and lines of the cattails themselves.

How do you capture the uniqueness of the cattails? Here are the results of a couple of different approaches that I used to try to respond to that question.

cattail_blog

cattails2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Last month I featured a photo of an American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea), a species that is among the most visible and active during the cold, gray days of winter. I should probably caveat my statement about the sparrows being visible, because they are usually only partially visible as they root around in the tangled undergrowth and move quickly from place to place.

Occasionally I manage to get a somewhat clear shot of the American Tree Sparrow and I decided to share a couple of them this morning. The first one shows the sparrow in what I consider his most “natural” environment, mostly surrounded by vines and branches. I like the way he just poked out his head, permitting me to get a clear profile shot. The second image shows a sparrow at the top of cattail, a place where I rarely see them, which made it a little easier to get a clear shot.

Although I may not show photos of some of these smaller birds as often as I post photos of ducks, geese, and herons, I am attempting to photograph them almost every time that I am out shooting. I enjoy the challenge, even if my success rate is relatively low.

sparrow_blogsparrow2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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