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Posts Tagged ‘North American Beaver’

As I wander about in Huntley Meadows Park, I see lots of signs that winter is on its way, including this tree that I encountered in what seemed to be the middle of the woods. Clearly the beavers have been as busy as, well, beavers. I am hoping to be able to capture them in action in the upcoming months.

If you read this blog frequently, you probably noticed that this image is quite different from my “normal” wildlife close-ups. When I stumbled upon this tree on which a beaver had been gnawing, I was struck by the interplay of light and shadows. As I framed this shot, which is uncropped here, I was trying to capture the almost monochromatic look of the scene in a very simple composition. I’m pretty pleased by the different textures that I was also able to capture in the shot.

North American Beaver

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The National Zoo in Washington D.C. is a wonderful place to explore and has the added bonus of having no admission fee. On Monday I wandered around the zoo for several hours, visiting some of my favorite animals and taking a lot of photos.

Here are some of my initial favorite images: a lioness, a cheetah, a beaver, and an elephant.

lioness at National Zoo

cheetah at National Zoo

beaver at National Zoo

elephant at National Zoo

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Early Friday morning I heard a gnawing sound coming from under the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park. I watched and waited and eventually the head of a North American Beaver (Castor canadensis) broke the surface of the water. The beaver chewed on sticks for a few minutes a short distance away from me and then disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared.

This encounter took place just before 7:00 in the morning when it was just getting light. Although I had my tripod with me, I figured that setting it up would require so much movement that I would scare away the beaver. Knowing I wanted to get as low an angle as I could, I slowly sat down on the boardwalk, which was elevated above the water by about two feet (61 cm), and rested my telephoto zoom lens on my camera bag for stability.

I checked the EXIF data for these shots and they were all taken with camera settings of about ISO 1600, f/7.1, 1/15 second, and a focal length of 552mm. Not surprisingly, when the beaver was actually moving, the shutter speeds were too slow to stop the motion, but I did manage to get some shots that were reasonably sharp.

North American Beaver

North American Beaver

North American Beaver

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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A dark head broke the surface of the water just after sunrise yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park and the animal slowly and silently swam by me. Was it a beaver or a muskrat? It looks like a Norther American Beaver (Castor canadensis) to me, but I never got a look at its tail—the tail would have provided definitive proof of the animal’s identity.

The many gnawed off tree stumps testify to the presence of beavers in several lodges in the park, but the beavers themselves have remained remarkably elusive. Muskrats are active in the same areas and many park visitors have spotted them in action during the daylight hours.

Beaver or muskrat? What do you think?

North American Beaver

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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WordPress tells me I posted 851 photos during 2015 in 395 blog posts. I’ve forgotten many of those photos, but I want to share ten of my favorites with you today as we start the new year.

I used a very unscientific approach in selecting them—I simply chose ones that I really liked without looking at numbers of likes or views or comments. So often I am focused on getting new shots that I sometimes forget how wide a spectrum of subjects I like to shoot. These images remind me of my varied approaches and techniques.

I didn’t include any of the fox photos or contest entries that I featured recently, figuring that you were already familiar with them. I should note that this selection of favorites is representative and not exhaustive—there are probably some awesome shots that I have neglected to include. I haven’t tried to put the images in any kind of rank order, but if forced to choose, my favorite image of the year is probably the first one, the Green Heron with a kind of Rembrandt lighting.

Thanks to all of you who have supported and encouraged me so much in 2015. Best wishes for a wonderful 2016.

Green Heron

Ebony Jewelwing

Great Spangled Fritillary

Banded Pennant

Green Heron

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Blue Dasher

Osprey

Bald Eagle

North American Beaver

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It was almost dark yesterday (and getting darker) at Huntley Meadows Park when I saw the head of a beaver break the surface of the water. It’s been quite some time since I last saw a beaver, so I was thrilled, and even managed to get a few shots by cranking up the settings on my camera.

There are several beaver lodges at the park and the resident North American Beavers (Castor canadensis) have been really busy the last few months getting ready for winter. Every time that I visit the park, I see that that more mud has been applied to the lodges and the brush pile adjacent to the lodges, which server as a larder during the winter, keep getting bigger.

Despite all of this activity, the beavers have remained remarkably elusive and I have not spotted them a single time in recent months during my early morning visits to the park. Yesterday I went to the park late in the day and was able to finally see one.

My DSLR is a little long in the tooth and its max ISO setting is 3200. I had never set it that high, because of fears of unacceptable grain in the images, but boldly set it there yesterday. I was shooting in aperture priority at f/7.1 (wide open for my telephoto lens when fully extended is f/6.3) and I was shocked to see that my shutter speeds for my shots were either 1/4 or 1/8 of a second. Fortunately my lens has image stabilization, but it’s actually a little surprising that my images were not completely blurry when shooting at 600mm with a 1/8 second shutter speed.

This shooting situation definitely pushed the limits of my camera, but I am happy that I was able to get some recognizable images of a beaver swimming at dusk. As we move deeper into the winter, I will be looking to capture some more shots of our resident beavers, hopefully in better light.

North American Beaver

North American Beaver

North American Beaver

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I don’t take photos of people very often but it seems like there are some informal rules including not photographing a subject who is eating and not photographing someone who is bending over. Fortunately those “rules” do not apply when photographing wildlife.

In the first shot, the North American Beaver (Castor canadensis) at my local marsh seemed to be glancing up at me mid-chew, having sensed my presence. I can’t tell if the beaver is shy or irritated, but I am happy that I was able to capture some of the details of the beaver’s “hands.” The beaver probably was aware that he had some leaves stuck between his teeth, but, as a friend, I probably would have mentioned it to him if he was going to go out in public.

In the second shot, the beaver’s posterior is facing the camera and I don’t want to be indelicate, but that part of the beaver’s anatomy looks huge. I can’t imagine what I would have said if the beaver had turned to me and asked, “Does this pose make my butt look big?” Perhaps I could have responded honestly to the question, but most guys know that is best not to respond at all if a female human poses that same question.

If you take wildlife photos, you too probably have a collection of “butt shots” of animals and birds that were running or flying away or simply sending an unsubtle message that they did not want to be bothered by a photographer. One of my favorite photographers and bloggers, Lyle Krahn, periodically does an entire humorous posting of wildlife shots devoted to this genre. Be sure to check out his The Inauguaral Butt Collection.

North American Beaver

North American Beaver

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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