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Posts Tagged ‘wood duck’

“Environmental bird portraits” is a fancy way of saying that I was not able to get close enough to my subjects to isolate them and fill the frame. Although that is true, I like the way that these three images give you a sense of the environment in which the birds were found. Often I try to get so close enough to my subjects with a telephoto or macro lens that I lose sight of the “big picture.” These images, all of which were taken last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, give you some sense of the variety of birds and environments that I encounter when I am out with my camera.

The first image shows a pair of colorful Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) that took off as soon as they detected my presence (and I was a long way off from them). The male is the one that is in front, with the female just behind him.

The second image shows a Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus), the smallest hawk in the United States. This bird was the toughest one for me to identify and I had to seek assistance from some experts in a Facebook bird forum. There was some discussion about whether this was a Sharp-shinned Hawk or a Cooper’s Hawk, another small hawk, but prevalent view was the it was the former.

The final image shows a male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) as he sang out loudly from atop a tree. Male blackbirds are definitely not shy and the volume of their enthusiastic songs and calls is amazing, i.e. really loud.

Wood Duck

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa), but haven’t seen any for quite some time. I was therefore really happy when I spotted this pair swimming in the distance in a  creek at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge earlier this week.

The male Wood Duck, as shown in the first image, is one of the most colorful and distinctively patterned birds in our area—there is no other bird that looks even vaguely similar. The duck stopped swimming for just a moment and I was able to capture this shot of him getting a drink of water.

The female Wood Duck shown in the second image is not quite as colorful as her male counterpart, but has an equally distinctive look with her windswept “hair” and prominent white eye ring.

wood duck

wood duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Three Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) silently swam into view in the early morning light, their passage creating a trail of ripples in the still waters of the little creek. A sense of tranquility filled the air as another day slowly began.

wood ducks

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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I spotted several young Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) this morning at Huntley Meadows Park, including these two who playfully posed for me. Actually, there were three young Wood Ducks grooming themselves on a long and one decided to jump into the water. After swimming around for a while, the duck in the water decided to dry its wings and I was able to capture the extended wings in this shot. In case you are curious, the third duck was just out of the frame to the right. Although it was well past the “golden hour,” the light was beautiful and I was happy to be able to capture a partial reflection of the duck with outstretched wings.

wood duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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As we move deeper into summer, I have been seeing fewer and fewer duck families at Huntley Meadows Park—maybe the ducklings have grown up or have succumbed to predators. Whatever the case, I was thrilled early yesterday morning to spot a Mama  Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) with five ducklings, relaxing and grooming themselves on a log in the water in one of the more remote areas of the park.

When they are first born, all of the ducklings seem to look the same to me, but gradually they seem to take on some of their adult markings. The duckling alone in the center, for example, seems to be acquiring some of the head markings of the adult Wood Duck, though he still lacks the spectacular colors of the adult male Wood Duck. (In case you don’t know what a male Wood Duck looks like, I am reprising below a photo from earlier this year of one sitting on a nesting box.)

wood duck

Wood Duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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Female Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) at Huntley Meadows Park have been caring for their ducklings alone, so I figured the males had all departed. This morning, however, I spotted this male Wood Duck when he climbed out of the water to groom himself.

I captured this image when he gently shook himself to dry off. The moisture flew easily into the air, like water off of a duck’s back.

wood duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As I was getting ready to leave Huntley Meadows Park yesterday afternoon, a Wood Duck family (Aix sponsa)  suddenly swam right in front of me from under the boardwalk. Even though I zoomed out, I was unable to capture the entire family with my long telephoto lens.

Here are a couple of shots of the mother and some of her ducklings. They were moving pretty quickly as a group and I didn’t have much time to get some shots before they disappeared into the vegetation.

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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