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Archive for February, 2015

Out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of some moment in the cattails. At first I thought it was a Downy Woodpecker, which I have sometimes observed pecking on the cattails in search of insects, but I quickly saw that this was a smaller bird. When it finally climbed higher on a cattail stalk, it became clear that it was a Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis).

Initially I had trouble finding this tiny bird in my viewfinder with the zoom fully extended, but eventually I was successful. I am really happy with the effect that I managed to achieve, with the darker-colored bird really standing out from the lighter-colored backdrop of the cattails. Normally I like to crop to focus attention on the subject, but in this case I like the images better with a considerable amount of open space around the chickadee.

I couldn’t decide which of these two image I liked more, so decided to include both of them. Sometimes I like the horizontal pose of the first shot, but at other times the open bill in the second shot draws me in.

It’s always fun to try to get shots of owls and eagles and hawks, but my moments with this little chickadee reminded me that the little birds have their own special kind of beauty.

Carolina ChickadeeCarolina Chickadee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Angry bird? I don’t know for sure if this American Robin (Turdus migratorius) was angry, but it sure did not look happy when I started walking toward it on the boardwalk this morning at Huntley Meadows Park.

American Robin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Through the trees I spotted a small group of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) consisting of a larger doe and some smaller deer—there seemed to be no buck. The deer were foraging for food, picking a few remaining berries from some thorny bushes and poking about on the ground. One of the deer appeared to be keeping watch and periodically would stare right at me. After a few minutes at that one spot, the deer moved on and so did I.

White-tailed DeerWhite-tailed DeerWhite-tailed DeerWhite-tailed Deer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I felt like a goalie in a penalty shot situation, waiting for my opponent to act. Would he go to the right or to the left, go high or go low? Could I react quickly enough to capture the shot? Time seemed to stand still as I waited and watched.

In this case, my “opponent” was a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) perched in a tree at my local marshland park. Once I spotted the hawk, I slowly moved as close as I could get, walking quietly on the boardwalk. The hawk was facing in the opposite direction, so my initial shots showed the details of the back of its head. Scanning the area, the hawk periodically looked to the sides and I managed to get some profile shots, the second and third shots below.

Finally, the hawk took off, diving quickly to my left. I reacted and managed to get a few shots of the hawk in mid-air.  Although my  trigger finger reacted well, I didn’t move the lens fast enough and failed to keep the hawk centered in the frame. I barely managed to capture the entire body of the hawk in the photo below and the composition of the shot is less than optimal. However, I like the overall feel of the image and the fact that you can see details like the underside of the tail feathers and the talons.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Earlier this week American Robins (Turdus migratorius) were very active at my local marshland park, mostly fluttering about high in the trees, apparently foraging for food.

I have a mental picture of robins poking about in the ground and pulling out juicy worms. Clearly they were not looking for worms in the trees, but seemed instead to be focusing their attention on some little red berries. The robins, which are present in our area throughout the year, manage to survive by switching their diets to one of primarily fruit during the winter.

Sue of the Backyard Biology blog helped to explain this change in the a robin’s diet in a posting last year that she titled “The Robin in Winter…or why Robins don’t migrate.” Be sure to check out her blog for wonderful images and fascinating discussions of the science behind some of nature’s mysteries and conundra.

American Robin American RobinAmerican Robin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Many colorful birds leave us in the winter or have a more muted plumage, but the Northern Cardinal retains its bright, bold color and remains in our area throughout the entire year. I am always happy to spot a cardinal and the snowy white background really helps to showcase this male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) that I spotted yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park, the local marshland where I take many of my wildlife and nature photos.

On a cold, windy day, the cardinal was busily extracting seeds from what I think are rose hips of the Swamp Roses (Rosa palustris) that grow in the wet areas of the park.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Last week I stayed pretty close to home as we experienced frigid temperatures, a couple of show storms, and difficult driving conditions, but I did walk through the neighborhood one day and observed some of the “local” birds, like this beautiful little White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis).

These birds seem to spend so much of their time upside down that I wonder if they get dizzy from blood rushing to their heads. I was happy to be able to get some shots of the nuthatch in a variety of positions, including some upright ones, and here are a few of my favorite images from my moments with the nuthatch, including a final shot of the “traditional” nuthatch pose.

White-breasted NuthatchWhite-breasted NuthatchWhite-breasted Nuthatch

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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