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Posts Tagged ‘birds in flight’

I’ve seen crows harassing hawks and eagles, but I’d never seen a crow being chased off by another bird until this past Friday at Huntley Meadows Park, when I witnessed a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) flying after what appeared to be a crow. After the heron caught up and forced the crow to depart, the heron appeared to be squawking a few words of warning not to return.

heron and crow

heron and crow

heron and crow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) seemed to be facing in the opposite direction when a sharp-eyed fellow photographer spotted it in a tree across a field. We were able to move quite a good distance across the field before the hawk became aware of our presence and took off.

Instead of flying up into the air, the hawk flew downwards initially and then flew behind the stand of trees, so I was unable to get any mid-flight shots with the sky as the background. However, I did manage to capture a sequence of shots as the hawk was getting ready to take off and also shortly after the takeoff.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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A loud smack in the water yesterday afternoon at Lake Cook in Alexandria, Virginia caused me to turn my head and I was shocked when I saw an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) pull a fish out of the water—I though that all of the osprey had gone south for the winter months ago.

This encounter was a real test of my ability to react quickly. I had been watching some small birds in the bushes at the edge of the water when I heard the osprey’s impact with the water. My brain went into overdrive as I tried to figure out what had caused the sound, but simultaneously I was raising my camera to my eye and pointing it in the direction from which the sound had come. I didn’t have time to change the settings on the camera and was fortunate that they were more or less ok. My focus was set for single shot and not continuous focus, so many of my shots were not in focus and my shutter speed ended up at 1/500 sec, a bit too slow to freeze the action. Still, I am thrilled that I got a couple of decent shots out of the encounter.

After I posted a photo in a birding forum in Facebook, several local birders noted that osprey often return to the area in mid-February, so this osprey is only a bit of an early bird.

osprey

osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was focusing on a bird across the water, I detected some motion out of the corner of my eye—a small bird was zooming fast and low over the surface of the water in a flight path parallel to the bank on which I was standing.

I reacted as quickly as I could to track the bird and fire off a few shots and was surprised that I managed to capture some relatively sharp images of a female Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus). Although female Hoodies often have puffy hairstyles, this one had a more aerodynamic look while she was flying.

The angle at which I was shooting made the water the primary background for the images and somehow the water ended up looking like it had been painted by Monet. Luck and skill combined to help me capture these fun images.

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When I first caught sight of this bird in the distance, I thought it might be a Red-shouldered Hawk, but I may have gotten lucky and captured some shots of a Merlin (Falco columbarius) this morning at Huntley Meadows Park. The past few months there have been repeated sightings of a pair of these falcons, but I personally have seen one of them on only two occasions. After so many recent days of cloud-filled skies, it was nice to have some sunshine and blue skies today, though the temperature was right around the freezing mark when I set out in the pre-dawn darkness.

UPDATE: One of my Facebook viewers has suggested that this looks to him to be an immature Red-tailed Hawk. As you can see, bird identification is not one of my strengths.

 

Merlin

Merlin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One of my fellow photographers keeps posting such awesome photos of the birds of Fort Washington Park, a historic fort on the Potomac River in Maryland, that I decided to make a visit there yesterday. Upon arrival, I quickly realized that I did not know exactly where in the park I would be most likely to find wildlife, so I wandered around somewhat aimlessly for most of my time there.

I had been at the park once before and had seen a bald eagle that time, so my eyes looked mostly upwards as I scanned the trees and the sky. Several times I focused my camera on a shape in the trees and was disappointed that it was only a misshapen branch or a clump of leaves. Finally, though, I spotted a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) high in the trees.

Sometimes bald eagles will perch on branches somewhat in the open, but this one was buried among the branches. This photo show my initial view of the eagle as I looked through my lens zoomed all the way out to 600mm.

Bald Eagle

Focusing on eagle was somewhat of a challenge because of all of the branches, but as this blow-up of a part of the image above shows, I was able to capture some pretty good detail.

Bald Eagle

I tried to be stealthy as I moved a bit closer, but the eagle detected my presence and immediately took off. Initially the eagle flew behind the trees, but I managed to acquire my target and capture a number of image before the eagle disappeared in the distance. The lighting was not the greatest and I had to crop the images a good deal, but I am really pleased that I managed to get some relatively sharp views of the eagle’s head.

I am pretty sure that eagles will show up in my blog again in the upcoming months, though not with quite the regularity with which they have appeared recently.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Is it possible to post too many photos of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)? I don’t think so. Here’s a shot of one I saw yesterday flying in the distance at Huntley Meadows Park. It was a nice bonus that we had sunshine and blue skies after a series of dreary, overcast days, even though it was still pretty cold outside.

I see Bald Eagles, including juvenile ones, often enough at the park that I frequently wonder if there is a nest hidden somewhere the park. I have wandered through some pretty remote areas of the park, but so far have been unsuccessful in locating a nesting site.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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