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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

I inched my way forward yesterday when I spotted this bird in a tree at the edge of Lake Cook in Alexandria, Virginia. Gradually I came to see that it was an osprey (Pandion haliaetus) lunching on a fish. When I moved a few steps closer, however, it detected my presence and its reaction was quicker than mine—I couldn’t quite keep the osprey within the frame of my camera.

I have included an image of the osprey just before it took off to give you an idea of what I was seeing as I was doing my best to be stealthy. The eyesight and reactions of raptors is so good that it is really tough to get even this close. I suspect that in this case the osprey was slightly distracted because it was eating.

The osprey did not fly completely out of sight but perched in the highest branches of a tree on the other side of the small lake. There the osprey was able to continue its lunch without further interruptions.

osprey

osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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During the winter months, my macro lens doesn’t get used much, but I was happy to have it with me during my recent trip to Georgia when I spotted this beautiful flower in bloom at the Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center in Columbus. I’m pretty sure that it is a variety of spiderwort ( g. Tradescantia), a commonly seen flower where I live, but not in February

I grew to love this kind of shot when I first started shooting with Cindy Dyer, my photography mentor and muse. She infused me with a love for macro photography and for botanical subjects that is re-energized each spring. As I look at this image, I imagine her telling me how much she likes it, but also gently reminding me that I should have shot it with a tripod to get the extra degree of sharpness and more precise framing.

spiderwort

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I drove back yesterday from Georgia to Northern Virginia, an almost 800 mile drive (1287 km),  I stopped at a rest area on I-95 in North Carolina. Noting that there was a small man-made pond, I decided to investigate for odes and spotted this damselfly. One of the experts in the Southeaster Odes Facebook Group helped to identify this beauty as a female Fragile Forktail damselfly (Ischnura posita).

It’s a whole lot cooler in Northern Virginia than it was in Georgia and North Carolina, so I suspect that I will have to wait a month or two for damselflies and dragonflies to emerge here. With this sneak preview, I can hardly wait.

fragile forktail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It’s still a bit early for dragonflies in Northern Virginia, but when temperatures soared to almost 80 degrees (27 degrees C) yesterday in Columbus, Georgia, I decided to see if I could find some here. I had a wonderful time exploring some of the area of the Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center that is not far from Fort Benning, where I was staying.

I came up empty-handed for dragonflies, but did spot some beautiful little damselflies. Later in the spring, these will be fairly common, but after a long period with no odonates, they seem rare and exotic.

The first one looks like a Fragile Forktail damselfly (Ischnura posita), but I am not sure about the others. Several of them flew so weakly that I wondered if they had only recently emerged.

Fragile Forktail

damselfly

damselfly

damselfly

damselfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This tiny chickadee was energetically digging into a cattail last week at Huntley Meadows Park. Although it is usually recommended not to photograph subjects mid-bite (at least human ones), I like the way this shot turned out of the industrious little bird.

Judging from the range maps, this is probably a Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis), although we sometimes also get Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus). These two types of chickadees look quite similar and I am not yet skilled in distinguishing between them.

chickadee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A large number of Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) were in the trees and among the cattails yesterday afternoon at Huntley Meadows Park and their raucous calls resounded throughout the park. The males seemed to competing to see who could call out the loudest and longest, as if to say, “Can you hear me now?”

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It is hard to believe that there could possibly be any insects or other nourishment in the dried-up reeds and cattails, but this male Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) was feverishly pecking away this past Monday at Huntley Meadows Park. He was extremely focused and persistent—I hope that his efforts were eventually rewarded.

Downy Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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