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Pink water lilies

Yesterday morning I made a quick trip to Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Washington D.C. with fellow photographer Cindy Dyer to check out the water lilies and lotuses. Many of the pathways in the park are flooded or muddy, thanks to a significant amount of recent rain. Wet feet, however, were a small price to pay to see so many beautiful flowers, including the two spectacular pink water lilies that I am featuring today.

Stay tuned for more water lily and lotus images later this week.

pink water lily

pink water lily

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Everyone knows that Monarch butterflies love milkweed, but if you move in closer to the plants, you’ll discover a world of fascinating little creatures, like this Red Milkweed Beetle (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus) that I spotted this past weekend at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia.

Almost three years ago I did a posting in which I acknowledged that I had become obsessed with shooting Red Milkweed Beetles. This weekend I realized that that my initial fascination with my colorful little friends has not diminished much over time when I saw this beetle in a small stand of swamp milkweed. I’m not sure if it is the long antennae or the bold pattern or the bright color that attracts me most—I just know that I love seeing them in all of their developmental forms (they go through several interesting instars as they grow).

The next time you see some milkweed, stop for a moment, examine it closely, and prepare to enter a fascinating little world as the scent of the flowers envelops you.

 

Red Milkweed Beetle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

Bee simple

Photography seems so complicated when I worry too much about lighting, camera settings, and a myriad of other technical concerns. It’s nice sometimes to put those cares in the back of my mind and just shoot as I did yesterday—me, my camera, a bee, and a flower.

It can be that simple and that enjoyable.

bee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

As an American, I feel a special affinity for the Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), our national bird and one of our most visible national symbols. Eight months ago, I was privileged to witness the rescue of an injured bald eagle at my local marshland park and captured some of the best photos that I have ever taken.

This photo, which appeared originally on 4 November last year, seems particularly appropriate today, reminding that our liberty requires constant vigilance and that brave men and women across the globe are on duty today safeguarding that freedom.

If you would like to see additional photos or learn more of the eagle rescue, check out my earlier posting. That posting has been my most popular one ever, thanks in part to the fact that several media outlets used my photos in their on-line coverage and provided links to my blog. Unfortunately, this story ended tragically and the eagle’s injuries turned out to be so severe that this majestic bird was euthanized.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

With patches of red, white, and blue, this Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) that I spotted earlier this week seems to be perfectly attired to celebrate Independence Day today here in the United States.

Happy Fourth of July!

Red Admiral

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Finding beauty

Where do you find beauty in your daily life? I often feel a sense of awe and wonder when I simply contemplate the gorgeous flowers in the garden of my neighbors.

I think the white flowers are a variety of coneflowers and the purple sphere in the upper right corner is a globe thistle.

Coneflowers

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Not a Monarch

A few years ago I probably would have misidentified this butterfly as a Monarch because of its coloration. Now, however, I can tell immediately that it is a Viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus), because there is a black stripe across the hindwings that the Monarch lacks.

I spotted this beautiful little butterfly this past Monday as I was searching for dragonflies and other creatures in a remote area of Huntley Meadows Park, the marshland area where I take many of my photos. A significant number of the areas that I like to visit are at least partially flooded. The month of June that we just ended turned was the second most rainy June on record for the region (and the rain has continued into July).

As I take more and more photos, I keep learning more and more about my subjects as I try to figure out what I have shot. What amazes me is that I manage to retain some of that information and can use it to identify a subject, as I did in this case. It’s not that easy most of the time (at least for me).

Viceroy butterfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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