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Posts Tagged ‘Tamron 150-600mm’

This time of the year is always exciting for me as my favorite dragonfly species begin to emerge—it is like renewing a relationship with old friends after an extended absence. On Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge I was thrilled to spot my first Calico Pennant (Celithemis elisa) dragonflies of the season.

As dragonflies go, Calico Pennants are small, a little over an inch (25 mm) in length and very colorful. In addition to their bright red (male) and yellow (female) bodies, they have beautifully patterned wings. Like other pennant dragonflies, Calico Pennants like to perch at the very tip of flimsy grasses and other vegetation. That makes them fairly easy to spot, but tough to photograph as they flap in the slightest breeze like a pennant.

I spotted a number of male Calico Pennants during my visit, but only a single female, the one that is mating with a male in the final photo. For those of you with curiosity or prurient interest, the couple are hooked up in what is often referred to as the “wheel position.” Anatomically speaking, it is a bit confusing, but you have to admire the couple’s acrobatic flexibility. The first two photos show perched males, with the initial photo a back-lit image that shows wing details and the second one a more traditional pose that highlights the body coloration.

Calico Pennant

Calico Pennant

Calico Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Yesterday I was thrilled to get a glimpse of this impressive-looking Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I have seen Wild Turkeys at this refuge on numerous occasions, but this is one of the first images that I have been able to capture this spring.

I am always amazed when I come upon a male turkey displaying his feathers. I grew up in the suburbs of Boston and the only turkeys that I ever saw were those in the freezer at the supermarket, which did not look anything like this bird, and the cutout figures that we would pin to the wall to celebrate Thanksgiving. Somehow I always thought those cutouts were cartoonish caricatures—little did I know that wild turkeys actually look like those colorful figures.

wild turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do you like to hang out in the swamp? Swamps may not be the most hospitable place for humans, but they provide a wonderful environment for all kinds of photogenic creatures. For example, the bright yellow Prothontary Warbler that I featured yesterday likes to hang out in a wooded swamp, unlike most warblers that prefer trees in a drier environment.

As I was photographing that bird two weeks ago at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I noticed some very large dragonflies flying around in the same area.  I recognized them as Swamp Darner dragonflies (Epiaeschna heros) and I was thrilled when one of the females decided to deposit some eggs in a fallen log not far from where I was standing observing the warbler. I had to bend down a bit, but essentially my feet stayed in the same spot.

It is definitely cool to be able to photograph two such colorful species from the same spot. The experience is a good reminder not to get so focused on your primary subject that you lose sight of what is happening around you. You never know when an equally good or even better subject may be at your feet, above your head, or to your right or left.

Swamp Darner

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A couple of weeks ago I spotted a colorful Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) building a nest in a nesting box at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The warbler made multiple trips to the nest carrying a variety of materials in its bill. Each time that it got ready to leave the box, the warbler would stick its head out and look around. Although I tried repeatedly to capture the bird in flight as it left the box, the last image was the only one that was partially successful.

I am finally catching up on a backlog of photos—normally I post my photos within a few days of shooting them.

Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The sky was mostly covered in clouds yesterday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge when an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) decided to fly right at me after it had caught a fish.

I love the look of a head-on shot of a flying bird, but capturing such a shot is not easy. First, the bird has to cooperate and most of the time, it seems, birds like to fly away from me and not toward me. Secondly, I have to be able to capture and maintain focus on the bird as it is approaching, which can be a challenge with a heavy telephoto zoom lens. Finally, I have to calibrate my shooting speed so that I don’t fill up the buffer of my camera before the bird gets close.

Things worked out pretty well for this shot. If you click on the image and zoom in on it, you will see that I managed to keep those yellow eyes in reasonably sharp focus and even the beak is in focus. You don’t get a very good view of the fish—you will have to wait until I capture of profile shot of an osprey with its catch.

osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Many of you are aware that I have been keeping track of a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. When the eagle couple occupied the nest earlier this spring, the authorities set up barriers to keep the eagles from being disturbed, because the tree with the nest is close to the intersection of several trails.

I have checked the nest several times in the past month and there has always been an eagle sitting in the middle of the nest. As I looked through my telephoto zoom lens this past Friday from one of the barriers, I could see that an adult eagle was sitting at one side of the nest, leading me to believe there might be babies. I waited and eventually was rewarded with a view of one eaglet.

Last year there were two eaglets born at this nest. Perhaps there is a second eaglet this year too, but at a minimum I am thrilled to know that there is at least one new eaglet birth to celebrate.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Last Friday I spotted this Common Loon (Gavia immer) in the waters off of Occoquan Bay National Willdife Refuge.  I don’t think that I have ever actually seen a loon before, but this bird pretty much matches the image of a Common Loon in breeding plumage in my bird identification guide. The range maps indicate that Northern Virginia, where I live, is in a migratory area for this species. I am guessing that this loon stopped for a while on his journey northward.

Common Loon

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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