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Archive for the ‘spring’ Category

Every spring, Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) build a nest on the underside of a raised observation platform at Huntley Meadows Park. It is always  a lot of fun to watch these energetic little dynamos flying about, catching insects in mid-air. Fortunately this one came to rest for a moment on the metal railing of the platform and I was able to capture this image of a colorful Barn Swallow.

 

Barn Swallow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I am so happy that dragonfly season is finally here. There is just something about the beauty, complexity, and acrobatic skills of these amazing insects that never fails to grab my attention and I can easily spend hours watching and photographing them. I spotted this particular dragonfly, a female Spangled Skimmer (Libellula cyanea), last week at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia.

Spangled Skimmer dragonfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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In the early morning light at Huntley Meadows Park last week, I was thrilled to catch a glimpse of an Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus). The colors and lighting were subdued, which helped to draw my attention to the details of the bird’s feathers when I captured these images.

Several other photographers had posted photos of a kingbird on the park’s Facebook page and I was hoping that I would see one when I set out that day. When I first saw this bird from a distance, I thought it might be some kind of swallow. Once I got a little closer, I changed my mind and considered the possibility that it might be an Eastern Phoebe. It was only when I got home and was able to look at my birding book that I realized the white-tipped tail of this bird meant that it was almost certainly an Eastern Kingbird.

I studied Latin for a couple of years in high school (a long time ago) and I am always curious about the origin of the Latin name for different species. This one—Tyrannus tyrannus—really caught my eye.  The Cornell Lab of Ornithology website explained the name in these words. “The scientific name Tyrannus means “tyrant, despot, or king,” referring to the aggression kingbirds exhibit with each other and with other species. When defending their nests they will attack much larger predators like hawks, crows, and squirrels. They have been known to knock unsuspecting Blue Jays out of trees.”

Eastern Kingbird

 

Eastern Kingbird


Eastern Kingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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It is already June, but today I thought I would post an image of a striking May flower that I photographed late last month. Some of you know that I don’t have my own garden, though I am trying to grow some flowers in my yard this year. I generally have to rely on the garden of one of my neighbors, my photography mentor Cindy Dyer, for beautiful flowers to shoot.

I stopped by her house on the day when her first red day lily opened up. More of them are blooming now, but there is always something special about the first one. I love the rich red color of this particular variety of lily.  When I was growing up in Massachusetts. my Mom had some orange tiger lilies that appeared each year that she especially loved. This lily, of course, is a different color, but somehow it brought back memories of my departed Mom.

 

lily

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

 

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Most folks can readily identify a Great Blue Heron, but would you recognize a Great Blue Skimmer if you encountered one? This dragonfly’s wing pattern is fairly distinctive, but I usually look for its beautiful blue eyes and bright white face. I spotted these male Great Blue Skimmers (Libellula vibrans) on Monday at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia.

Great Blue Skimmer

Great Blue Skimmer

Great Blue Skimmer

Great Blue Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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There were crowds of people at Huntley Meadows Park on Monday, a  holiday in the United States, but I managed to find some moments of serenity and solitude as I contemplated this skipper butterfly perched on a faded iris at the edge of a vernal pool off of the beaten path.

I may be a little selfish, I suppose, but I enjoy nature most when I don’t have to share it with others.


Skipper on iris

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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This Green Heron (Butorides virescens) picked a particularly precarious perch from which to focus on a potential prey this past Monday at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia.

Green Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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