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I’ve seen crows harassing hawks and eagles, but I’d never seen a crow being chased off by another bird until this past Friday at Huntley Meadows Park, when I witnessed a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) flying after what appeared to be a crow. After the heron caught up and forced the crow to depart, the heron appeared to be squawking a few words of warning not to return.

heron and crow

heron and crow

heron and crow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Spring bees

It’s still a little too early for dragonflies, but I did find some cool little bees yesterday afternoon at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia, a county-run historical garden not far from where I live. Longtime readers of the blog know that I love taking macro photographs and during summer months my trusty Tamron 180mm macro lens is on my camera most of the time.

Yesterday I decided to dust off my macro lens and search for insects. For most of the afternoon I came up empty-handed, but then I spotted a few bees gathering pollen. They kind of look like honey bees, but I don’t remember honey bees being that small. Grape Hyacinths (g. Muscari) are only a couple of inches tall and the first photo gives you an idea of the size of the bees.

Spring is finally here and I look for an explosion of insects soon. During this transitional time of the year I expect to be switching back and forth between my telephoto zoom lens, primarily for birds, and my macro lens, primarily for flowers and insects.

bee

bee

bee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Wood Duck in a tree

As I was making my way to the start of the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park early on Monday morning, a helpful birder pointed through the trees to a pair of Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) that appeared to be seeking a nesting cavity. The female kept moving among the trees, but the male stayed still for a moment and let me get this long-distance shot.

It’s pretty unusual to see ducks in a tree and generally I know they are in the trees only when I hear them flying away. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology website notes that Wood Ducks “are one of the few duck species equipped with strong claws that can grip bark and perch on branches.” This spring I have noted Wood Ducks checking out nesting boxes at the park, but perhaps this couple prefers a more natural birthing experience (or maybe all of the nesting boxes are being used by other Wood Ducks or Hooded Mergansers).

wood duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Osprey’s catch

An osprey circled and circled overhead early Monday afternoon at Huntley Meadows Park and finally made a strike, pulling a good-sized fish out of the water. I captured the first shot as the osprey flew by me with its catch, which is just visible between the wings. In the second shot, the osprey was flying away over the trees.

Ospreys have recently reappeared at my favorite local marshland park and these are my first shots this spring at this location. The last couple of years they have shown up regularly enough that I wonder if there might be a nest somewhere in the park. I have wandered about in many remote areas of the park, but so far have not located a nest for the ospreys or for the bald eagles, which I also see pretty regularly in the park.

osprey

osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

On the boardwalk

This Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) decided to try out a new vantage point at Huntley Meadows Park on Monday and surveyed potential prey from atop the boardwalk. Although the heron looks to be contemplating diving into the water, it eventually jumped into the water feet first.

I love trying to capture birds in motion, but am happy to settle for images in which there is a kind of tension and anticipation of action, rather than a more static pose.

Great Blue Heron

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Ready, set, go

Like a runner at the starting blocks, this male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) was tensed as he prepared to push off from the top of a dead tree yesterday morning at Huntley Meadows Park.

What a beautiful way to start the spring.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Preparing to fly

When I first spotted an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) yesterday afternoon, it was perched at the top of a tall tree at Lake Cook in Alexandria, Virginia. Suddenly it began a series of what seemed to be warm-up, stretching exercises. The position reminds me a little of the obelisk position that some dragonflies assume to avoid excessive exposure to the sun. A short time later, the osprey took to the sky.

As I attempted to track the osprey circling overhead, I found myself shooting in radically varying lighting situations. The sky was blue, but there were large expanses of gray and white clouds. Some of the time I was also shooting directly into the sun. As a result, the two in-flight shots below look almost like they were shot on different days, when in fact they were taken only seconds apart.

osprey

osprey

osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.