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Archive for January, 2017

I had hopes of capturing lots of images of birds perched on snow-flocked branches at Huntley Meadows Park  yesterday morning, but this happy little Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) was the only bird that cooperated. About an inch of light fluffy snow had fallen overnight and covered the trees and cars, but the streets were totally clear—it was what some local meteorologists like to call “conversation snow.” Traffic snarls easily in Northern Virginia, but fortunately this dusting of snow did not seem to create any serious problems on the road.

So far this winter, snow has been uncommon here, but I am sure we will be blasted before long and, conditions permitting, I’ll be out again trying to capture the snowy images that I have in my mind.

Carolina Wren

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was focusing on a bird across the water, I detected some motion out of the corner of my eye—a small bird was zooming fast and low over the surface of the water in a flight path parallel to the bank on which I was standing.

I reacted as quickly as I could to track the bird and fire off a few shots and was surprised that I managed to capture some relatively sharp images of a female Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus). Although female Hoodies often have puffy hairstyles, this one had a more aerodynamic look while she was flying.

The angle at which I was shooting made the water the primary background for the images and somehow the water ended up looking like it had been painted by Monet. Luck and skill combined to help me capture these fun images.

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I captured this image of a Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) as it lumbered across the water before taking to the air yesterday at Lake Cook in Alexandria, Virginia. Cormorants are so big and heavy that they have to build up a good deal of momentum to get airborne. As a consequence, cormorants tend to bounce across the water for a little  while before they actually are able to take off.

Double-crested Cormorant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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On a visit yesterday to Lake Cook, a tiny body of water not far from where I live in Northern Virginia, I was thrilled to spot an immature Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus). These prehistoric-looking water birds have feathers that are not completely waterproof, so periodically they have to extend their impressively large wings to dry them out.

Most of the cormorants that I have seen in the past have been on the much larger Potomac River, but this solitary one seemed content to paddle about among the geese and ducks that had congregated on this small pond. It was nice finally to have a day with some sunshine and I spent a pretty long time observing the cormorant. One of the coolest things for me about these birds is their spectacular blue eyes, which you can just make out in the image below, especially if you double click it to view it at a higher resolution.

Double-crested Cormorant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When I took this shot yesterday morning at Huntley Meadows Park, I assumed it was a female Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), because of its color and the pattern of the feathers. At home, though, it became clear that it was an image an immature male who is just starting to gain some of the markings of an adult male—you can just make out the beginnings of the colorful shoulder patch.

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love the mood of the early morning—there is such a sense of tranquility. Here is what what things looked like this morning at Huntley Meadows Park. The most obvious subject was a male Northern Pintail duck (Anas acuta), but I love the way that you can see other ducks and geese in the background.

Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Does your appearance affect your attitude? Do you act differently when you are dressed formally than when dressed casually?

During the winter, I sometimes put on an utterly ridiculous looking bright red trapper hat with long floppy ears. No matter how I am feeling, I can’t help but smile when I am wearing the hat in public.

I wonder if a Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) feels the same way about its oversize bill. No matter when I see one, it always seems to have a goofy grin on its face. Now I admit that bills are pretty inflexible and probably don’t allow for much variation in the shoveler’s facial expressions, but the grin is contagious. In the same way that people smile back at me when I have on a goofy grin on my face when my red hat is on my head, I always smile back at the Northern Shovelers.

Wear a goofy grin today and see how other people react!

Northern Shoveler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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