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Posts Tagged ‘dusk’

As the sun went down and a sliver of the moon appeared at Huntley Meadows Park, a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) made a last attempt to catch a fish in the dwindling light.

Great Blue Heron

sunset_nov_blog

Waxing crescent moon (thanks to Walter Sanford for the identification)

Waxing crescent moon (thanks to Walter Sanford for the identification)

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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At dusk yesterday as I was preparing to leave Huntley Meadows Park, my local marshland park, I stumbled upon this muskrat enjoying its dinner. The sun was setting, but it provided just enough warm light for me to capture some images of this elusive little animal.

Muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) generally are skittish and the most common view that I get of them is when they are swimming away from me. I was fortunate that this muskrat was concentrating on feeding, so its guard might have been down a little, and I was able to approach it without startling it.

I was snapping away in an effort to take advantage of the disappearing light and my moment of solitude with the muskrat, when my camera alerted me that my memory card was full. I backed away slowly and surprisingly was able to change memory cards and resume shooting.

Suddenly I started to feel vibrations in the boardwalk on which I was kneeling and I realized that I was not alone. I tried to concentrate as much as I could, knowing that my time was limited as I felt and heard the approach of a young family with both a stroller and a toddler. The noise and movement was too much for the muskrat and after a bit of hesitation, it scrambled under the ice and swam away.

I haven’t yet downloaded and looked through all of my shots, but wanted to share an initial image. I really like that the last rays of sunlight were able illuminate the muskrat’s fur and add a little catch light in the eyes. (As you can probably tell, the light was coming from camera right and shining right on the muskrat.)  Stay tuned, as I am sure that I will post at least a few more photos of my encounter with this little muskrat.

muskrat1_jan_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The beavers have moved out of the lodge right under the boardwalk that made it possible for me to get relatively close-up shots of them last winter. This weekend I was determined to get a photo of them and had to wait until it was almost dark to catch sight of one of them swimming in the distance. There was just enough light to focus and I had to crank up the ISO to 1600 (with the resulting increase in noise), but I was able to get a recognizable image.

This completes an incredible week for me of photographing mammals in the wilds of my suburban marshland oasis—I managed to get shots of an otter, a raccoon, a fox, and a beaver. I also saw a few deer, but didn’t get any photos of them. What’s next? I have been told that we have coyotes in the park, but I refuse to follow the advice I heard that the best way to draw in the coyote is to go walking in the park with a small dog after dark. Meanwhile, I can only hope that I am fortunate enough to see the same animals again and get better shots.

beaver_dusk2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Preparing to leave “my” marsh yesterday afternoon, I looked over the frozen fields and waters and was struck by the beauty of the light and the reflections of the sky in the puddles. The scene was awash in shades of blue and gray. Somehow the photo of the scene is not quite as beautiful as I remembered, but I decided not to tweak it much.  In addition to capturing the moment, this photo also provides you with a view of part of the marshland where I take so many of my photos.

marsh_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Beaver at Huntley Meadows Park

Beaver at Huntley Meadows Park

This past Saturday I introduced you to one of the local beavers in a posting entitled Beaver at dusk. The photos of the beaver were shot at a very high ISO and were pretty grainy. Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to photograph the beaver in better light, when he came out of his lodge an hour or so before sunset. I’m still going through my photos and may work up a few more, but wanted to post one immediately.

He is a beautiful specimen of a North American Beaver (Castor canadensis). From what I’ve read, it is almost impossible to tell a male and female beaver apart, except when the female is nursing a kit (baby beavers are called kits), so I may be wrong in using male pronouns with this particular beaver.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The beavers at my local marshland park have built a lodge that spills onto a bench on the boardwalk and the entrance to the lodge appears to be in the waters underneath the boardwalk itself. There are signs that the beavers have been actively getting ready for winter with new mud walls and fallen trees each time I visit. I’ve only seen a beaver a few times and it has always been a time of reduced visibility, i.e. early morning or late in the day.

As I was walking back toward the park entrance yesterday evening after taking photos of the sunset, I heard noise near the beaver lodge and saw that a beaver was visible through the brush. I snapped a couple of photos, but realized that ISO 400 would not work, so I cranked up the ISO to 1600, the highest that my camera would go. This was uncharted territory for me, because I had already seen prominent grain when I set the ISO at 800. Even with the ISO set that high, the shutter speed was around 1/15 sec, so I tried to keep my camera on my tripod. The beaver was somewhat preoccupied and did not immediately dive, the normal reaction of a beaver when I see them, so I was able to get some shots of the beaver in action.

In many ways, these are aspirational shots, for they reflect photos that I want to take in the future with better results. I am sharing some of them, however, because I find them to be interesting, poor quality notwithstanding. It will definitely be a challenge to figure out a solution to the dilemma of getting quality shots in limited light.

Gathering more sticks for his lodge

Gathering more sticks for his lodge

Beaver close-up

Swimming beaver

Beaver with open mouth

Beaver with open mouth

Beaver looking at me

Beaver looking at me

Swimming toward the light

Swimming toward the light

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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