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Posts Tagged ‘Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge’

I love the early morning hours and enjoy watching the darkness give way to the light. This morning I was pleased to be able to capture the predawn colors and then the actual sunrise at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

It was a wonderful way to start the new day.

dawn's early light

sunrise at Occoquan Bay

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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This Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was initially facing away from me on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  Somehow, though, the eagle sensed me approaching and turned its head slightly to glare at me. The eagle seemed to take a little time to check me out before deciding to take off.

I am presenting the images below in reverse chronological order, starting with the “glare” and working backwards in time to the moment when I first spotted the eagle. I had just rounded the bend of a trail and lookeding upwards was shocked to see that I was almost directly this eagle. It is definitely rare for me to get this close to an eagle and to get such detailed shots of its feathers.

bald eagle

bald eagle

bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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How do you mark the beginning of spring? For some, it is the time when crocuses and daffodils begin to bloom. Here in the Washington D.C. area, one of the signs of spring is the blossoming of the cherry trees.

For me, I consider spring to have sprung when Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) reappear. These impressive raptors, sometimes referred to as fish hawks, depart in the autumn and throughout the winter I eagerly await their return. Why? I gladly spend countless hour in fascination and enchantment as I watch osprey soaring through the skies, hovering in the air, and occasionally plunging feet-first into the water to catch a fish. It is also fun to watch them gathering materials to build or repair nests.

Yesterday I spotted my first ospreys this season while exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge on an unusually warm and sunny March day. Here are a couple of my favorite shots from those encounters, which mark the return of the ospreys for 2019.

Osprey

osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Most of the Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) that I have seen in 2019 have been females, which have more subdued colors than their male counterparts. I was happy recently when I finally captured an image of one of the flashy male bluebirds at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

In my experience, bluebirds have a universal appeal—virtually everyone finds them to be beautiful.

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This immature Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) certainly was aware of my presence on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, judging by the intensity of the stare it directed toward me. I am guessing that the eagle is about three years old—it takes almost five years for its head feathers to turn completely white and for its beak to turn yellow. At this stage of development, bald eagles look a little scruffy and have not yet acquired the majestic look that I associate with this species.

If you are interested in seeing images of the developmental stages of the bald eagle, check out this posting from onthewingphotography.com that shows an eagle’s age progression from one to five years old.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday I was thrilled to observe a group of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) fording a stream at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The activity level of all kinds of creatures seems to be picking up as we move closer to or deeper into spring, depending on how you calculate the start of spring. The bottom of the body of water they were crossing seemed to be uneven and the deer had to move carefully. At one point it looked like they even had to swim a few steps, especially the smaller deer.

As I watched the deer, I was reminded of the lyrics of one of the songs from The Sound of Music that included the words “ford every stream.” Folks of my generation may well remember the inspirational message of the song “Climb Every Mountain,” which I have included below, as found at metrolyrics.com.

Here’s hoping that you will find your dreams, irrespective of whether or not it involves fording streams or climbing mountains.

“Climb every mountain,
Search high and low,
Follow every byway,
Every path you know.

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
‘Till you find your dream.

A dream that will need
All the love you can give,
Every day of your life
For as long as you live.”

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

 

White-tailed Deer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Sunny days have been relatively rare this winter, so it is almost a special occasion when we do have one. Although it is nice to capture images of rare subjects on those special days, it is equally pleasurable to photograph the common species, like this Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) that I spotted recently at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The additional light from the sun helps to make the heron’s wonderful colors “pop” much more than they do on gray cloudy days.

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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