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Archive for July, 2017

I love to watch bees and spotted this one recently at Green Spring Gardens. I was struck by the way it resembled a mountain climber (albeit with no ropes) as it hung upside-down from this shaggy flower—I have no idea how to effectively gather pollen from a flower like this one, but the bee seemed to be doing ok with its “tongue.”

bee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) are now in bloom at Huntley Meadows Park. In addition to being beautiful, these vivid red flowers attract butterflies, like this Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio troilus) that I spotted this past weekend at the park.

Spicebush Swallowtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Cabbage White butterflies (Pieris rapae) are small and skittish and you probably don’t pay much attention to them—you might even think that they are merely moths. If you look closely, though, you’ll discover that they have beautiful, speckled green eyes.

I love the way that a macro lens reveals amazing details that are there, but that we never see or simply take for granted. I took these photos yesterday during a brief trip to Green Spring Gardens, a wonderful, county-run historic garden not far from where I live.

Cabbage White

 

Cabbage White

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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This female Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) must have been feeling tired or lazy yesterday afternoon at Huntley Meadows Park. Rather than going in through the opening in the trumpet vine flower and helping to pollinate it, she opted to drill in through the side of the flower to get to the nectar.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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It looks like a massive amount of fluorescent Silly String has exploded onto parts of the marshland at Huntley Meadows Park, but I believe it is in reality a parasitic plant known as dodder. Early yesterday afternoon a White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) found it to be so tasty that it was willing to ignore the people passing on the boardwalk less than ten feet away.

In taking this photo, I did something that I rarely do—I used the 150mm setting of my 150-600mm telephoto zoom lens. The deer was so close that I could capture only its head and shoulders, even with the lens at its widest setting.

 

deer and dodder

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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There is not denying that it is exciting to capture unusual moments, like a snake swallowing a catfish, or to photograph a new species, as I have done recently with dragonflies. For me, though, there is something equally satisfying about returning to a familiar location and observing ordinary subjects. It is a different kind of challenge to present the ordinary in an extraordinary way, in a way that makes people stop and realize that natural beauty surrounds them every single day.

Last week, butterflies were really active at Huntley Meadows Park.  When I am in a garden, it is easier for me to guess where a butterfly will fly next, but in the wild, butterfly behavior is a little more unpredictable. When I noticed that a stand of what looks to be some kind of thistle was beginning to open, I hoped that the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) that was flying about would be attracted to it. Eventually it flew to the thistle and I was able to capture this image.

Spectacular? No, not really. Beautiful? I’d say so. The image works for me, because it has just enough stopping power to cause views to recall how beautiful ordinary butterflies can be, to rekindle the childhood memories of being excited by butterflies, and to remember how exciting it was abandon caution and simply and joyfully chase after butterflies.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As I walked along a trail paralleling the Potomac River one morning last week, I noticed some movement near the water’s edge. Moving closer, I spotted some tiny frogs—they seemed to be only about an inch or so in size (25 mm). Many of them hopped away as I continued my approach, but one of them jumped onto a rock and posed for me.

I was able to capture a lot of details of this frog, but am having trouble identifying its species. I have a lot more experience identifying birds and insects—I am not a frogman. Despite my ineptitude at identification, I really like the photo and the way that the background seems to mirror the colors, patterns, and texture of this tiny frog.

frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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