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Archive for August, 2016

It’s hard to get an Osprey ( Pandion haliaetus) to cooperate in posing. When I asked this osprey to smile for me this past weekend at Huntley Meadows Park, this was the best look that it would give me, which looks more like a smirk than a smile to me.

Osprey

I was shooting from quite a distance away, waiting and waiting for the osprey to take flight. The osprey was in no hurry, however, and when I moved on, the osprey was still perched on the branch. I had the impression that the osprey wanted some solitude, because the osprey would periodically glare at me with this look, which suggested to me that my presence was not really welcome.

I am not sure how long the ospreys will remain with us. I have seen them off and on throughout the summer, but have never spotted a nest in the park. As we move into autumn, there will be a big turnover of birds, with some migrating south and others arriving to winter with us in Northern Virginia. Readers will probably notice too a changeover in the content of the blog postings, with fewer insects and more birds.

Osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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This past weekend I spotted an unusual-looking spider at Huntley Meadows Park. I took this shot from a distance, so I didn’t capture all of its wonderful details, but it looks to me like a Triangulate Orb Weaver spider (Verrucosa arenata), also known as an Arrowhead Spider.

The spider was hanging in mid-air, which helped a slight bit with focusing, but Arrowhead Spiders are less than a half inch in size (about one cm), so it was a bit of a challenge getting any kind of shot with my telephoto zoom lens extended to 600mm.

Arrowhead Spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Here’s a shot of another one of the colorful butterflies of Huntley Meadows Park. I spotted this Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) there this past Friday morning as it perched in a tree. What was the butterfly doing in the tree? It seemed to me that it was simply resting, though I suppose that it might also have been trying to attract a mate.

From a photography perspective, I really like the way that the background is divided into two separate colors, creating a kind of yin-yang effect.

Red Admiral

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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How do you measure popularity? WordPress keeps track of a lot of different statistics and one measure of a post’s popularity is the number of times that it has been viewed. For most of my blog postings, the majority of views come within a few days of the posting date. Occasionally I’ll have a few additional views when someone else posts a link to my post.

When I did a posting in November 2014 on the rescue of an injured bald eagle that I witnessed, a few news outlets in Washington D.C. ran a story with my photos and links to my blog. That posting has had 3396 view to date, far and away the most views for a single posting. In some ways I consider that post an anomaly, with much of the activity caused by the newsworthiness of the event that I photographed.

When it comes to “normal” posting, one that I did almost exactly three years ago stands head and shoulders above all others with 1327 views, including 244 within the last thirty days. The posting was simply called Red-Footed Cannibalfly and it has remained remarkably popular over an extended period of time. In fact, if you do a search for “Red-footed Cannibalfly” in Google, my posting has risen to the first page of results, occasionally rising as high as third place.

A lot of the spam I receive in WordPress informs me that  there is a secret to getting your material higher in Google search results using Search Engine Optimization and the senders undoubtedly want me to pay them to share the secret with me. Sorry, guys, I seem to have stumbled on it by myself, though I am not sure I could replicate that success.

I was thinking about all of this yesterday when I spotted a Red-footed Cannibalfly (Promachus rufipes) while wandering about Huntley Meadows Park. I’d hesitate to call a Red-footed Cannibalfly beautiful, but there is something fierce and distinctive about its appearance and I love its macabre moniker. I captured this image from a distance with a long telephoto lens and I am happy that I didn’t get close enough for one to land on me—I can’t help but remember that this insect paralyzes its victims, liquefies their insides, and then sucks up the liquefied material.

The Red-footed Cannibalfly may be a bit creepy, but seems to be quite popularwith a lot of folks, judging from my blog statistics.

Red-footed Cannibalfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Skipper butterflies normally do not get much attention because they are small and are not brightly colored.  When you look closely at members of this large family of butterflies, however, you discover an amazing variety of colors and patterns.

Give some love to the skippers. (Click on any one of the images to see all of them full size in slide show mode, unless you are viewing the post in the WordPress Reader, in which, I believe, the images will be shown individually.)

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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On Monday I spotted this beautiful Swift Setwing dragonfly (Dythemis velox) at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge at Fort Belvoir, a nearby military base. When I observed one at the same location in June, it was the first time that one had been recorded in Fairfax County, the county in Northern Virginia where I live, so I was a little surprised to see that they are still around.

If you would like to see some photos of my initial sighting, check out my blog posting from June 25. The range of this dragonfly seems to be moving northward and it seems likely that I’ll be seeing this species again next year, since I suspect that mating and egg-laying have been taking place during the past two months.

Swift Setwing

Swift Setwing

Swift Setwing

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This Common Buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) was so focused on the goldenrod flowers that it was either unaware of my presence or simply didn’t care on Monday at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge. I was therefore able to capture the beauty of the butterfly from a somewhat unusual angle that lets us see some of the wonderful markings on the body as well as on the wings.

Common Buckeye

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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