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Archive for December, 2014

Although the rings on the bills of the Ring-necked Ducks (Aythya collaris) are very distinctive, it is their beautiful eyes that really draw me in, whether it be the startlingly yellow eyes of the male or the more subtle brown eyes of the female.

I never see these ducks in the ponds of my local marshland park, but each winter over the past few years, I have seen them in a small water retention pond in the middle of a suburban townhouse community near where I live.

Ring-necked DuckRing-necked DuckRing-necked Duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Where’s Waldo? As I was observing a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) in the early morning, it took off and I captured this first image, in which you can just barely make out the hawk’s face and body amid all the branches.

In the second image, the sunlight hit one of the hawk’s wings just right and illuminated it against the backdrop of the tangled branches, making the hawk a bit easier to pick out.

UPDATE: Several readers have noted that this is almost certainly a Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), not a Red-shouldered Hawk—I still have lots of work to do on improving my identification skills.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I gazed out into the center of a small, man-made pond, I spotted gulls and geese and a few ducks. Suddenly a small bird swam into view that I couldn’t identify. It looked a bit like a duck, but the bill seemed to be very different.

I’m stepping out into the unknown by speculating that this might be a Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps), although it doesn’t quite match any photos that in my identification guide or that I could find on-line. I wonder if it is a juvenile bird. I would welcome a clarification, correction, or confirmation from more experienced birders. Thanks in advance for your assistance.

As you can tell, it was a bright, sunny day when I took this shot this past weekend, a welcome respite from the gray days of winter. Alas, it is cloudy again today, with rain forecast for much of the day.

Grebe

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) are strange-looking waterbirds that sit really low in the water. I’ve seen them from time to time, but until yesterday, when I saw this one at a small suburban retention pond, I never knew that they have striking blue eyes.

One of the other unusual things about this bird is that they spend a good amount of time outside of the water drying out their wings. Despite being a diving bird, the cormorant’s feathers do not shed water as well as a duck’s, for example, and they can get soaked pretty quickly.

I took some photos of the cormorant drying its wings that I will post later, but I wanted to post the image of the cormorant resting on one leg, because it shows off the blue eyes (and I like the reflection).

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday at my local marshland park, this Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) seemed to be dancing—I think he was rocking to the sounds of “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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On Christmas Day I managed to fit in a short walk at Huntley Meadows Park, my local marshland park, and captured these images of a pair of Hooded Mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus) as they took off from the water and started to gain altitude.

Hooded Merganser takeoff

Hooded Merganser takeoff

Hooded Merganser takeoff

Hooded Merganser takeoff

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I posted this image once already, but its bright Christmas colors cry out to be used again this morning.

Merry Christmas to friends and family and best wishes for a blessed New Year.

Thanks for all of your support and encouragement this past year as I have continued my journey through photography.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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