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Archive for the ‘animals’ Category

The beavers at Huntley Meadows Park have been remarkably elusive this winter, so I was excited to see this one on Monday as it swam by in the beautiful early morning light.

There are several beaver lodges in the park where I have spotted North American Beavers (Castor canadensis) in the past, but it is hard to know for sure which ones are currently active. Occasionally I will come to the park really early or stay late, hoping to spot a beaver, but this is the first one that I have spotted in many months. With a little luck I will be able to see one a bit closer than this one, which quite a distance away when I photographed it.

beaver

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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This muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) was so close yesterday morning at Huntley Meadows Park that I almost stepped back off of the edge of the slippery boardwalk as I tried to make sure that I was within the focusing range of my telephoto zoom lens.

I ended up wet from the intermittent rain, but managed to avoid falling into the water.

muskrat

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It has been quite a while since I have seen any mammals other than squirrels, dogs, and humans at Huntley Meadows Park. Although I long to spot a fox, beaver, or even a coyote (someone saw one recently in one of the remote areas of the park), I was quite happy when I caught sight recently of a little muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) as it munched away on some vegetation. The sound of my camera’s shutter or my movement must have alerted the muskrat to my presence and within seconds the furry creature disappeared beneath the surface of the water.

muskrat

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Whenever I walk the two year old German Shepherd who belongs to my son and daughter-in-law,  one of the highlights for Katie is stopping by my house so that she can visit with Prime Rib (PR), my adopted rabbit.

The two of them seem to enjoy staring at each other and sniffing. Katie has never displayed any hostility towards PR and PR is not intimidated by her presence and often just ignores her.

It was an interesting challenge trying to get this shot using available light. Katie kept moving and PR often stayed in a position in which his eyes were not visible. Beautiful morning light was coming in from the right through the sliding glass doors, but it was not exactly where I would have liked it. I ended up using my Canon 24-105mm lens, a lens that I don’t use that often. I particularly like the way that I was able capture Katie’s intense focus and utter fascination with the little rabbit.

PR and Katie

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I couldn’t help but do a double take when I saw this sign at Fort Benning, Georgia. I was filled with visions of dogs on automatic conveyor belts being sprayed with soap and slapped with moving towels. Was hot wax an option for dogs?

I did a little checking and learned that the dog wash is a separate facility adjacent to the car wash. It is the first of its kind on a US military installation and includes a coin-operated, do-it-yourself, climate-controlled booth that offers washing, drying and flea and tick bathing options. The booth is then automatically sterilized after each use.

dog wash

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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How do you find comfort when you are feeling agitated and anxious? I can always turn to religion or to nature or to my photography, but early this morning I realized how comforting it was to have Freckles, a small Cocker Spaniel, leaning into my leg as I sat on the couch reading the Washington Post. Her slow, steady breathing and the warmth of her body helped to counteract my rising emotions as I read the accounts and editorials about President Trump’s first full day in office.

Freckles is staying with me while her owners are out of town and she is really comfortable in my townhouse, which is not too surprising, given that she lived here for over a year before she moved to an apartment in Washington DC.  For her, a trip to the Virginia suburbs is like a vacation in the country, and she particularly likes to play around in the fallen pine needles of my small back yard.

Generally she is in constant motion, sniffing every square inch of the yard, but yesterday I got her to sit still for a moment so that I could take some shots of her. Here are a few of my favorites from our impromptu portrait session.

Freckles

Freckles

Freckles

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Periodically I will arrive at Huntley Meadows Park early in the morning, hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the local beavers, but I haven’t seen one in quite some time. It’s very obvious, though, that North American beavers (Castor canadensis) are present and active, because their lodge, built in part on the boardwalk, keeps getting bigger every time that I see it.

Gradually the beavers are taking over more and more of a bench on the boardwalk. I noticed this morning, when I took this photo, that there is barely room now to sit down on the end of the bench. In the past, park employees have had to remove some mud when the lodge extended too far across the boardwalk and it looks like that has been the case this  year too.

I’m fully expecting to see one of these days that the bench has been totally engulfed by the beavers and incorporated into their architectural plans. At that moment I will know for certain that the beavers have taken over.

beaver lodge

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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