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Late autumn cardinal

The subdued colors of the female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) seem to be perfectly suited for the late autumn, when the muted shades of the fallen leaves seem to dominate the landscape.

female Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Kingfisher catch

I spent a fair amount of time yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park watching a female Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon), one of my favorite birds. She was perched on a broken-off tree a pretty good distance away and there was no way that I could get any closer, since there was water between the boardwalk on which I was standing and that tree.

The kingfisher remained perched for quite some time, so I had plenty of time to steady myself and adjust settings until I was relatively content with some of my shots. What I really wanted to do, though, was to capture the kingfisher. I knew that eventually the kingfisher would dive into the water and I waited. Kingfishers don’t give any real warning when they are ready to dive, so I tried to remain alert and ready, even though I knew the chances of me capturing this fast-moving bird in flight were slim.

The kingfisher dove several times and I did manage to capture a few ok images of her flight toward the water. My favorite shot, however, is the final one here in which she is flying out of the water with what looks to be a small fish.

It was a nice catch for both of us.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Santa bird

I often think of this little bird as the “Santa bird,” because of its white “beard” and round belly. Technically speaking, it’s a White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis), but it’s often more fun to make up my own names for the creatures that I see and photograph.

White-throated Sparrow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Bird bath

Late in the afternoon I was walking along a stream when I suddenly heard some splashing at the edge of the water. Full of curiosity I peered though the bushes to see what was going on. I was looking almost directly into the sun, so all I could see was the silhouette of a bird that was bathing in the shallow water. I knew that I would not be able to capture the details of the bird, but what I really wanted to do was to capture the mood of that intimate moment.

I hesitated a little to post this image, because its flaws are evident, but somehow it speaks to me emotionally through its simple color palette, through the shadowy unidentified bird, and through the concentric ripples in the water. My usual rule of thumb is to post the images that I like, so here it is. I realize that my views of the image are really subjective and are tied to my memories of the moment—you had to be there.

bird bath

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Defying gravity

This energetic little Downy woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) seemed to be defying gravity on Monday as it leaned over backwards and pecked away at a small tree growing out of the water at Huntley Meadows Park.

Downy Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

The Birds

Yesterday the fields and forests of Huntley Meadows Park were alive with the sound of birds, lot of birds. I didn’t get a close enough look to identify the black birds, but they seem to be Rusty Blackbirds or Grackles. As they foraged, they moved from one spot to another in a great cloud of birds, all flying at the same time.

I tried to capture images of the birds with different backgrounds and especially like the first one below, which reminds me of some pf Escher’s pen-and-ink drawings of birds.

birds in flight

birds in flight

birds in flight

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

High heron

Generally when I see a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) in a tree, it is roosting in a protected location and napping. Early one morning this past weekend at Huntley Meadows Park, however, I spotted this alert heron perched on an exposed dead tree, looking like it was playing the role of a sentinel.

I initially caught sight of the heron from a distance and followed a path in the treeline that let me get almost underneath the heron for some shots. The sky was overcast and there was not much light, causing the background to appear white and the images to be almost monochromatic.

Great Blue Heron

 

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.