Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Portraits’ Category

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.

Read Full Post »

Normally Hooded Mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus) like to stay in deep water and it’s tough to get close-up photos. Yesterday, however, I came upon this male near the shore of a small pond  and I managed to snap off a couple of shots before he turned his back and swam away.

These little ducks have an amazing amount of personality, especially when seen up close.

Hooded Merganser

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

With stealth and patience I can get relatively close to some birds, but Belted Kingfishers (Megaceryle alcyon) remain elusive, skittish, and difficult to capture. I was fortunate to get some long distance shots of a handsome male kingfisher (males have no chestnut-colored stripe on their chests) last weekend in the trees overlooking Lake Cook in Alexandria, Virginia.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

A bright red male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) was buried in the bushes on Monday at Huntley Meadows Park. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get an unobstructed shot. I attempted to will the cardinal to move to a new spot and amazingly it flew to a perch on the upper railing of the observation deck and posed for me.

Maybe telepathy works!

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »