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Archive for the ‘wildlife’ Category

It’s almost impossible to sneak up on a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), but that didn’t stop me from attempting to do so this past Friday afternoon at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I was walking along a trail that runs to parallel to the water when I spotted the unmistakable white head of a Bald Eagle. The eagle was partially hidden in a mass of branches and was facing away from me, so I moved forward with as much stealth as I could manage.

When I reached a point where I was shooting up at a rather steep angle, I stopped and waited, hoping the eagle would turn its head to the side and offer me a glimpse of its eyes. Eventually that happened and I shifted from side to side in a desperate attempt to capture an unobstructed view of its eye. Clearly this is not the best shot of a Bald Eagle that I have ever captured, but I do like the pose and the details in its feathers. Besides, it’s a Bald Eagle, a subject that never fails to excite me.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I spotted some cute little American Goldfinches (Spinus tristis) early on Friday morning as they foraged in the vegetation adjacent to the observation tower at Huntley Meadows Park. The lighting was somewhat limited, but it was soft and beautiful and gives the photos an overall sense of peace and serenity, the start of a new day.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A group of five or so photographers stood on the boardwalk on Friday morning at Huntley Meadows Park watching a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) in a tree above us. We waited and waited for the hawk to take off and when it finally did so, I almost managed to keep the hawk within the frame. I can’t really complain too much, though, because as far as I know, none of the others managed to get a shot off when the hawk took to the air.

We were in a really good position and the lighting was beautiful, but it is hard to remain alert and ready as you wait for a bird to spring into action. I was using a monopod again and I think it may be the reason why I was able to capture the hawk taking off. My camera was already at eye level and pointed in the direction of the hawk during the entire fifteen minutes or so that we watched the hawk. The other photographers had to raise their cameras and were not able to do so quickly enough.

It might be my imagination, but I also think that some of my shots with the monopod are sharper than they might otherwise be. I have balked a bit at carrying a big tripod, but think that the monopod will now be with me most of the time—it collapses to a pretty small size and, because it it carbon fiber, is both sturdy and light.
Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Half-hidden by the vegetation, this shy little White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) gently gazed at me for several moments and then slowly turned and disappeared from sight last Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Sometimes wildlife sightings set my heart racing in excitement, but this one left me feeling peaceful and mellow and a bit contemplative.

white-tailed deer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Sometimes the most ordinary birds are the most beautiful, like this American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) that I spotted earlier this month at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The colors of this goldfinch are certainly more subdued than during breeding season, but I like the way that the yellow serves as an accent color rather than covering the bird’s entire body.

For contrast, I am including a photo from early autumn of another goldfinch at another location. Some may prefer the bright colors of the breeding plumage, while other may find it to be too gaudy and prefer the more subdued non-breeding plumage. Is one more beautiful than the other? For me, they are both beautiful, albeit in different ways. There is an inherent contradiction in beauty—sometimes it seems almost universal, but most often it is deeply subjective, i.e. “in the eyes of the beholder.”

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Even at a distance I could tell that the ducks that I spotted on Monday at Huntley Meadows Park were Northern Shovelers (Anas clypeata)—the shape of their bills is pretty distinctive. It’s duck season now and I can hardly wait for more species to arrive at the park.

Northern Shoveler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Pileated Woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus) are so large and loud that it is hard to miss them when they are around. I often hear them from a distance, pecking away at a tree with a volume that seems to match that of a jackhammer, or I catch a glimpse of their bright red heads, but generally they are high in the trees, partially hidden from view behind a tangle of branches.

I spotted a Pileated Woodpecker in flight last Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and was able to follow it to the tree where it landed. Moving as slowly and stealthily as I could, I tried to find a visual tunnel that would provide an unobstructed view of the the woodpecker. I was mostly successful in doing so and was able a couple of images of the woodpecker at work. I never realized how to determine the gender of these birds, but one of my friends pointed out to me that the red whisker stripes on this bird’s face indicates that this is a male.

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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