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Archive for March, 2016

I heard this Wood Duck couple take off at Huntley Meadows Park this past weekend before I actually saw them. Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa), especially the female, make a distinctive shrieking noise when disturbed and when taking flight. (Check out this page from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website to hear some of the sounds made by Wood Ducks.)

Normally Wood Ducks fly away from me and I often don’t even get to see them before they disappear in the distance. This time, however, the birds flew across my field of vision and I was able to capture this long-distance shot as they passed me. I really like the way that we get a glimpse of the beautiful colors on the inside part of the wings of these striking ducks.

Wood Duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Spring has definitely arrived in our area, but I was still quite surprised this past Saturday to see an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) at Huntley Meadows Park—it seems so early for butterflies like this.

I chased after the butterfly several times, to the extent that you can chase something while on a boardwalk, but each time the butterfly flew away. I had more or less reconciled myself to the likelihood that I was unlikely probably not going to get a shot of this early spring butterfly when I caught sight of it again.

The butterfly landed in a muddy open area where a flock of Canada Geese had previously been feeding.  There were no flowers around from which to get nectar, so the butterfly resorted to an organic source of nutrients.

This is definitely not the prettiest shot of a butterfly that I have ever taken, but it’s the first butterfly that I have photographed this season. Like the butterfly in the photo, I am content to settle for what I can find, hopeful that better things are to come as we move deeper into spring.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday afternoon I came upon this Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) at Huntley Meadows Park as it was enjoying a freshly caught fish. The osprey was perched in an exposed dead tree and I had a front row seat as it consumed its lunch. Despite taking what looked to be pretty small bites, the osprey downed the fish in a matter of minutes.

I managed to take quite a few shots of the osprey, which seemed so focused on its food that it tolerated my presence almost directly below the tree. I am still going through those photos and may do another posting later, but wanted to post one of my initial favorites.

Osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Now that spring is here, you can see and hear frogs throughout Huntley Meadows Park. One of the most common types in our area is the Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus), like this one that I spotted this past weekend.

Southern Leopard Frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Happy Easter (and best wishes to those not celebrating this holiday). This has been a really busy and special Holy Week for me and I am getting ready now to go to a sunrise Easter service.

I spotted this pretty little Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) yesterday during a daylong trek around Huntley Meadows Park.

Happy Easter!

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A dark head broke the surface of the water just after sunrise yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park and the animal slowly and silently swam by me. Was it a beaver or a muskrat? It looks like a Norther American Beaver (Castor canadensis) to me, but I never got a look at its tail—the tail would have provided definitive proof of the animal’s identity.

The many gnawed off tree stumps testify to the presence of beavers in several lodges in the park, but the beavers themselves have remained remarkably elusive. Muskrats are active in the same areas and many park visitors have spotted them in action during the daylight hours.

Beaver or muskrat? What do you think?

North American Beaver

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Now that springtime leaves and blossoms are reappearing, birds in the trees are getting harder for me to spot. Earlier this week I was happy to find this semi-hidden female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) at Huntley Meadows Park.

One of my friends asserts that female cardinals are more beautiful than their more boldly-colored male counterparts—it’s hard to disagree with him.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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