El Grackle

A small flock of large black-colored birds was noisily moving about the marsh at Huntley Meadows Park one morning last weekend and if I were better at identifying bird calls, I probably would have know what kind of birds they were—I considered the possibility that they might be crows or Red-winged Blackbirds or starlings or grackles. When I got closer and the sunlight illuminated their bodies, I realized that they were probably Common Grackles (Quiscalus quiscula), because of the way that their black color became iridescent, with colorful highlights.

I spent quite a while watching the grackles as they energetically pecked about, presumably looking for morsels of food. Their heads were pointed downwards most of the time, so it was a little tough to get good shots of them.

Here are a couple of my favorite shots that help show both the beauty and the personality of a grackle.


Common Grackle

Common Grackle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Great Egrets (Ardea alba) always seem to me to be a little vain and self-centered—maybe if comes from being so beautiful and graceful. This one did not like being ignored, so it decided to photobomb my shot of a deer this past weekend at Huntley Meadows Park .

Great Egret

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Unicorns in Northern Virginia? One of the coolest dragonflies at Huntley Meadows Park is the Unicorn Clubtail (Arigomphus villosipes), like this one that I spotted along a stream in a remote area of the park on Saturday morning. The U-shaped tip of the abdomen is quite distinctive and makes this dragonfly fairly easy to identify.


Unicorn Clubtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Deer and heron

A White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) seemed curious about the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) perched on a log, but the heron remained impassive and did not react as the deer passed behind it early Saturday morning at Huntley Meadows Park.

Peaceful co-existence—we could all use some more of that in our daily lives.

peaceful co-existence

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

This little Green Heron (Butorides virescens) somehow managed to find a perch in the midst of the thick vegetation growing out of the water yesterday morning at Huntley Meadows Park. From this higher vantage point, the heron was able to scan the area better for potential prey, though I never saw it catch anything.

Was the Green Heron imagining how much easier it would be if it were as tall as a Great Blue Heron?

green heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Female Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) at Huntley Meadows Park have been caring for their ducklings alone, so I figured the males had all departed. This morning, however, I spotted this male Wood Duck when he climbed out of the water to groom himself.

I captured this image when he gently shook himself to dry off. The moisture flew easily into the air, like water off of a duck’s back.

wood duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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