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Archive for April, 2016

I am usually averse to photographing unknown people in public, but the drivers of the fiakers, the two-horse carriages that offer short tours in Vienna, are such a colorful group of characters that I couldn’t resist grabbing a few shots from a distance.

fiaker driver

fiaker driver

fiaker driver

driver4_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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During my two walks through the Donau-Auen National Park in Vienna, Austria I encountered Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) in several locations swimming about and foraging for food. Their beauty and grace was remarkable and their white feathers were dazzling—it is easy to see why they have inspired music and ballet. Through the reeds I also spotted a female swan sitting on a nest. I would love to have seen baby swans, but I guess it’s still a bit too early.

As I was doing a little research, I was a bit surprised to learn that Mute Swans are not native to North America—they are an introduced species. I grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts and my earliest memories of swans are the pedal-powered swan boats in the Boston Public Garden. According to Wikipedia, those swan boats have been in operation since 1877.

Mute Swan

Mute Swan

Mute Swan

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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At this time of the year I love to try to photograph insects, but during my brief visit to Vienna, Austria the weather has been cool, windy, and sometimes rainy. The only insect that I was able to capture was this green-eyed moth that I spotted at the Donau-Auen National Park. I did a quick internet search,so far but have not been able to identify this insect.

When I am on business trips, I generally don’t travel with my Canon 50D DSLR and multiple lenses. I had been using a Canon PowerShot A620, a 2005 vintage 7.1 megapixel point-and-shoot camera. However, a while back I purchased a Canon SX50, a super zoom camera, to use as my new travel camera and I have used this trip to Vienna to test it out. I knew that it would be pretty good for long range shots, and have featured some images of birds this week that I photographed with the SX50.

What would it do, though, with smaller subjects? Would it be able to capture details? When I examined this image of the small green-eyed moth, I was pleased to see that the camera did a pretty good job in rendering details, such as the antennae and the eye.

I am still playing around with the different settings of the camera in an attempt to maximize the quality of the images it delivers, but my initial impressions are quite favorable.

Green-eyed moth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The locals must have thought I was a bit crazy as I maneuvered about taking photos of some House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) in the Volksgarten, one of the many beautiful public parks in Vienna, Austria. After all, House Sparrows are among the most ordinary-looking and common birds in the city.

Most of the time the sparrows were in constant motion, but a couple of them perched for short periods of time and I was able to capture a few images of the female and male House Sparrows that highlight their beauty.

sparrow5_blog

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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When I saw this bird bobbing its head as it moved forward in the waters at the Donau-Auen National Park in Vienna, Austria, I knew immediately that it had to be a coot. From certain angles, it looked just like an American Coot (Fulica americana), a species that I have seen regularly this spring. When it turned its head, however, I noted that it had a white shield on its forehead that its American counterparts lack. After a little research, I learned that this is a Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra).

Eurasian Coot

Eurasian Coot

coot1_blog

Eurasian Coot

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Perhaps the coolest bird that I managed to spot during my recent walk through part of the Donau-Auen National Park in Vienna, Austria  was a Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius).  The woodpecker was pecking away at a log on the ground, which allowed me to capture some relatively close shots of this large woodpecker.

I had never seen a woodpecker like this one, but it was not hard to find an identification on-line, give the size and coloration of the bird. According to Wilkipedia, the Black Woodpecker is “closely related to and shares the same ecological niche in Europe as the Pileated Woodpecker of North America.”

Black Woodpecker

Black Woodpecker

Black Woodpecker

Black Woodpecker

Black Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I had some free time yesterday and walked about in the Donau-Auen National Park here in Vienna. Some of the birds that I saw behaved the same as familiar species, but had a different appearance, like this goose, which I think is a Greylag Goose (Anser anser).

I spotted this goose from a distance and zoomed in and got a few shots. Despite the fact that I was a considerable distance from it, the goose could sense my presence and took off at a moment when I was looking through the viewfinder, permitting me to capture an action shot that almost filled the frame.

 

Greylag Goose

Greylag Goose

Greylag Goose

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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