Posts Tagged ‘Dyke Marsh’

Yesterday I spotted this beautiful Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) in the vegetation along the shore of the Potomac River as I explored Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve in Alexandria, Virginia. Although “heavy-boned” is a euphemism sometimes used for large people, it is literally true for cormorants and is one of the reasons why they ride so low in the water. Additionally, their feathers don’t shed water like those of ducks and can get waterlogged, which makes it easier to dive deeper, but requires them to dry them out periodically.

I hoped to catch a cormorant with its wings extended for drying, but none of the cormorants I saw were accommodating in that regard yesterday. I’m no psychic, but I foresee a return trip to that area in the near future.

Double-crested Cormorant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Direct sunlight and harsh shadows in the middle of the day make it challenging to take portraits without somehow diffusing the light. During the spring and summer, I will usually carry a collapsible diffuser that I use when photographing flowers (and occasionally people), but it would have been tough to get into position to use such a diffuser on this Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) that I spotted on the shore of the Potomac River last Saturday, when I was visiting Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve.

As I observed the heron, I was standing on a raised boardwalk, looking downward at the heron though some bushes. In order to get an unobstructed shot, I zoomed in, focusing primarily on the head and neck. The heron moved its head about a lot as it searched the shallow waters and looked through the debris at the shore’s edge, moving in out of the shadows.

I took a lot of photos of the heron and this is one of my favorites. I like the way that I was able to capture some of the details of the plumage and the sinuous curve of the heron’s neck. I would love to be able to capture a similar image early in the day or late in the day, but, as every wildlife photographer knows, you can never tell when you will have another opportunity to photograph a subject again.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I was watching some Great White Egrets (Ardea alba) yesterday at Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, a freshwater tidal wetland on the Potomac River, when something startled the birds.

The egrets and some mallard ducks took off from the water en masse in a great explosion of water. I captured some of that noise and confusion in the second photo. The photo I chose to feature shows the birds a short after the take off as they start to lift off a little and fly over a meadow-like area with tall golden grass. The light was especially beautiful on the wings of the egrets, which happily I managed to capture without blowing out the highlights as sometimes I do with these very white birds.

Click on the photos to see some of the beautiful details of the birds in greater resolution.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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