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Archive for October, 2012

It looks like this female Northern Cardinal decided to get dressed up as a punk rocker for Halloween. She has put some gel in her bright red Mohawk and adopted an attitude. Her really bright eyes and vacant stare suggest that she might be under the influence of some natural or artificial stimulant. I was not able to get close enough to see if she has any tattoos or piercings, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

Happy Halloween!

Punk rocker Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Originally posted on 25 August 2012

I am re-posting this image for three primary reasons.

  • Today’s Halloween and what could be more appropriate for an insect with Halloween in its name?
  • This is one of my absolutely favorite images and many of you may not have seen it yet (and I like the text too).
  • I’m a bit of a contrarian and want to post something beautiful today, rather than the creepy images that others may choose to post.

Happy Halloween!

Text of original post:

I remember my excitement the first time I saw a really cool dragonfly a few months ago that turned out to be a Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina). He had a very distinctive look with brown spots and stripes on his wings and orange veins. That first time I was happy to get any shot of the dragonfly.

Today I think that I encountered a Halloween Pennant for a second time. I was still very much taken by his looks but I had the presence of mind to circle about a bit, trying to get a good angle for the shot. The shot below is the one that I like the best of those that I took.

As I think about it, I go through this cycle a lot. I’m so in awe and wonder when I encounter something new that photography is not my first priority. Instead I am living the experience. Maybe my photos the first time are not the best, but that’s ok for me, because living my life is more important than merely recording it in my photos. That may be why I like to go back to places a second time and then focus a bit more on getting good shots.

Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Click for higher resolution view)

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It seems appropriate to post a photo of a spider on the evening before Halloween. I was not able to get a look at the spider’s front side when I photographed it this past weekend at Huntley Meadows Park, so I can’t identify it. I know for sure, though, that I never want to wake up in the morning and have this view of a spider. With my near-sighted vision, that would mean that it was way too close to me for my comfort. Happy Halloween!

UPDATE: Thanks to the assistance of my mentor and fellow blogger, Cindy Dyer, I am now pretty sure that the spider is the orb-weaver spider Neoscona Crucifera, sometimes known as Hentz’s orb-weaver or a barn spider (though there are other spiders known as barn spiders too).

Pre-Halloween spider enjoys a snack

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It was still raining early this morning when I ventured out into my suburban Virginia neighborhood to see what havoc Hurricane Sandy had wreaked upon us. One big tree had fallen onto several cars, but beyond that we had escaped virtually unscathed.

Run-off water was coursing rapidly down the little stream that runs through the neighborhood as part of the drainage system. I decided to attempt to take some shots of the moving water, inspired by some awesome images that I have seen recently in other blogs. There was a railing overlooking the stream and I placed my camera on it and used the self-timer, which permitted me to take some relatively long exposures.

Here are a few of the images that I produced. I still have a lot to learn about taking these kinds of shots, but I like some aspects of these initial efforts.

Suburban Virginia stream after Hurricane Sandy

Post-hurricane run-off in suburban Virginia

Runnymeade stream

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This morning, we continue to assess the damage from Hurricane Sandy here in the Washington, D.C. area, mainly downed trees and flooded roads. Perhaps we can draw inspiration from these geese, who are engaging in a rarely seen version of t’ai chi, seeking to achieve balance. This ancient martial art can be practiced on land or in the water—the water variant is especially appropriate for a time of reflection.

T’ai chi goose

Water t’ai chi—a reflective pose

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This past weekend I came across a caterpillar that I had never seen before.  Its black, yellow, and white markings somehow made me think of the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL team that wears those same colors. For now, I am referring to it as the Steelers caterpillar, though, of course, it has a “real” name.

I’m having trouble identifying it—it may be a Smartweed caterpillar, also known as a Smeared Dagger caterpillar (who makes up these names?), although it seems to be lacking the red coloration in the hairs that I see in most photos. If anyone can make a positive identification, please let me know. Who knows, maybe the Steelers need a fuzzy new mascot?

Pittsburgh Steelers caterpillar

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It looked like it was bath time for the Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) in a local pond and they seemed to be having fun playing in the water (and occasionally stopping to groom themselves). The geese were exuberantly beating the water with their wings, creating giant clouds of water droplets. It reminded me of trying to give a bath to a two year old child, who splashes almost as much—the only thing missing was the yellow rubber duck. Some of the geese would then rise up in the water a bit and flap their wings, presumably to dry them, and then get soaked all over again. Perhaps they were following the instructions on the shampoo bottle, “Lather, rinse, and repeat.”

I managed to get a couple of fun shots in which the goose’s head is in focus, but the wings are a blur—I think the effect is kind of cool.

Splish, splash, I was taking a bath

Ruffling some feathers

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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