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Posts Tagged ‘Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge’

What is your first thought when you see these three turtles together? Are they just friends or more than friends? The turtles seem to be pretty comfortable sharing a confined space and there is plenty of space in our minds for varied interpretations on the nature of their relationship. According to the old saying, “two’s a couple and three’s a crowd”—is that always true?

Whatever the case, the turtles at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge have been definitely been enjoying our recent sunny days. My turtle identification skills are not very good, but I think these all may be Eastern Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta picta), though there is a chance that they might be Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans).

I love images like this one that allow viewers to use their creativity to interpret what they see and to generate in their minds their own mini-narrative of what is going on. Ménage à trois or just friends—you make the call.

red-eared sliders

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When it comes to choosing a nesting site, Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge seem to be opportunistic. Some lucky couples are able to snag pre-existing nesting sites that require only minor improvements, while others are forced to build entirely new nests.

This past Thursday I photographed a nest that is annually built on top of one of the duck hunting blinds in the waters off of the wildlife refuge. Earlier in the season, the ospreys would fly away as I walked by on a trail, but now that the trees are leafing out, the ospreys have a bit more privacy.

The nest in the second image is a new nest, built in the last couple of weeks and probably still under construction. It is adjacent to the location where the nest in the third shot used to be. For reasons that are not clear to me, that nesting platform has disappeared and only a part of the post remains. I believe that the new nest may have been built by  the couple that occupied that nesting platform earlier in the season.

Osprey

Osprey

Osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I’ve noticed that recently I have been really sensitive to lighting and moods and not just to specific subjects. It’s problematic for me, because it is so difficult to figure out how to capture a feeling.

That is part of what was going through my head when I took this photo early in the morning this past Wednesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The sun had already risen, but it was still low in the sky. I loved the way that shafts of light were visible coming through the trees. It was a cold morning and mist was hanging over the still water of a small pond. Could I possiblycapture the details that took my breath away?

So what do you think, or more importantly, what do you feel?

sunrise

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) in my area have been building nests in all kinds of places, including on some channel markers in the Potomac River off of Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I personally don’t really think that there is enough space there for a nest, but the ospreys seem to think otherwise.

I am amused by the “No wake” sign that they have chosen. During busy periods, I would think that “No sleep” would be more appropriate.

Have a wonderful weekend. 🙂

osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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There is no doubt that I love photographing majestic raptors, like the bald eagles that I regularly feature. Yet there is something equally special about capturing images of tiny songbirds, like this perky little Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) that I spotted earlier this week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

How small are these birds? According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are 3.9-4.3 inches in length (10-11 cm) and weigh 0.2-0.3 ounces (5-9 grams), just slightly larger than a hummingbird. The same source notes that, despite the bird’s name, gnats do not form a significant part of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher’s diet.

Who comes up with these names?

 

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) paused for a moment to check on its catch as it flew away on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Occasionally I will see an eagle flying with a fish in its talons, but it is quite rare for me to see an eagle actually catch the fish.

In this case, I was fortunate enough to spot an eagle circling low over the water and I captured a few images just after the eagle snagged the fish. In the second shot, which chronologically speaking was the first shot, you can just make out the fish. In the third shot, the eagle appears to be adjusting itself to the additional weight and is starting to increase its speed and altitude.

These are the kind of action shots that I love to capture. I never know when such situations will arise, so I always try to remain ready to react.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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On Monday it was cool and windy and I didn’t expect to see many birds at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I was pleasantly surprised to spot several Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) flying about. The wind seemed to slow them down a little and gave me a slightly better chance of capturing images of them in flight.

My favorite subject was this juvenile eagle. Sometimes juveniles can look somewhat bedraggled with their multi-colored feathers, but I thought that this one looked quite handsome, especially when the light hit it from a good angle and illuminated its body. One unexpected benefit was that it was easier to get a proper exposure with the juvenile because it does not have the extreme contrasts of the dark body and white head of the adults. In many of my shots of adult eagles, the body ends up underexposed and/or the head ends up overexposed.

juvenile bald eagle

juvenile bald eagle

juvenile bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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