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Archive for the ‘Portraits’ Category

As we move deeper into summer, I have been seeing fewer and fewer duck families at Huntley Meadows Park—maybe the ducklings have grown up or have succumbed to predators. Whatever the case, I was thrilled early yesterday morning to spot a Mama  Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) with five ducklings, relaxing and grooming themselves on a log in the water in one of the more remote areas of the park.

When they are first born, all of the ducklings seem to look the same to me, but gradually they seem to take on some of their adult markings. The duckling alone in the center, for example, seems to be acquiring some of the head markings of the adult Wood Duck, though he still lacks the spectacular colors of the adult male Wood Duck. (In case you don’t know what a male Wood Duck looks like, I am reprising below a photo from earlier this year of one sitting on a nesting box.)

wood duck

Wood Duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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As I was wandering about in the woods early yesterday morning at Huntley Meadows Park, I inadvertently spooked a raccoon (Procyon lotor) that was stretched out high above me on a tree limb. The raccoon quickly climbed inside the tree, but it seems like it was overcome by curiosity and poked its head out to get a better look at me.

A sharp-eyed viewer of my posting of this image in Facebook noted that the raccoon seems to have a problem with ticks, with several of them visible in one of its ears. I know that raccoons are notorious for carrying rabies, so I kept a close eye on the raccoon and was ready to move away if it had made a move to climb down from the tree.

raccoon

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Male Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) are colorful and unusual looking and are one of my favorites. I spotted this one atop a nesting box at Huntley Meadows Park on Friday as he was singing in the rain. He stayed there for quite some time, periodically moving from one side of the roof to the other.

I waited and waited to see if a female Wood Duck would emerge from the box. but I never saw her. Perhaps he is keeping watch over eggs that may have been laid in the box.

Wood Duck

 

Wood Duck

 

Wood Duck

© 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’s so easy to overlook the ever-present, drab-colored sparrows when searching for birds to photograph. This past weekend, though, I stopped and watched one as it pecked away in the mud at Huntley Meadows Park, my favorite local marshland park. By slowing down and looking more closely, I was able to marvel in the beauty and industrious persistence of this little bird, which I believe is a Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana).

Slowing down and looking more closely—that’s probably a lesson I could probabl apply to more areas of my life than just photography.

Swamp Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

© 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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The plumage of the Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) is pretty drab, but it helps to make its beautiful orange bill and spectacular blue eyes stand out even more. I spotted this immature cormorant—adults have darker-colored breast feathers—yesterday afternoon at Lake Cook in Alexandria, Virginia. The cormorant was standing still in shallow water and seemed to be trying to absorb some warmth from the intermittent sun on a cold and windy day, with temperatures just above freezing.

Double-crested Cormorant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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