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Posts Tagged ‘Tamron 150-600mm’

Babies are always exciting and it looks like there are at least two eaglets in one of the Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nests that I have been watching for quite a few weeks. When I arrived at the barrier that blocks one of the trails on Friday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I noticed that the adult eagle was no longer sitting in the center of the nest—she was sitting in a much more upright position than previously and was sitting to one side of the nest. I began watching the nest through my telephoto zoom lens and periodically I was see the top of a little head pop briefly into view. I kept watching and eventually was able to get a shot that shows two babies.

I decided to crop the shot in two ways. The first one is a pretty severe crop, but it lets folks get a good look at all three eagles. The second crop is much looser and gives a better sense of the context of the shot by showing more of the tree and of the nest.

Bald Eagle babies

Bald Eagle babies

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Dragonflies are one of my favorite subjects to photograph and each spring I eagerly await their reappearance. Yesterday I captured my first image of one this season, a beautiful Common Green Darner (Anax junius) that I spotted at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Common Green Darners are a migratory species and the ones that we see in early spring, like the one in the photograph, probably flew here from somewhere further south. Once they arrive, they have a series of tasks to accomplish—they mate, lay eggs, and die. The next generation of Green Darners will emerge in a few months and fly south in the autumn. That generation will die in the south and the following generation will fly north in the spring.

What an amazing life cycle!

Common Green Darner

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I often wonder about the origins of the names of some species, but it’s pretty obvious why this particular bird is called a Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata). It is pretty hard to miss that posterior patch of bright yellow feathers, which leads some birders to affectionately call the bird a “butter butt.”

As I was tracking the bird through the vegetation, it came out into the open briefly, but turned away from me, and giving me a view of its underside. I find it fascinating to view a bird from multiple angles, but I must confess that I would have had trouble identifying the bird if this had been the only view that I had been able to capture.

Some of you may have noticed that I have been doing most of my photo treks these past few months in Occoquan Bay National Wildlife  Refuge. In this case, however, I spotted the warbler at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge last Friday, because I was checking to see if any dragonflies had emerged yet. There were none to be seen, but I am going out today, a week later, to search again for them. The weather is supposed to soar today to 80 degrees (27 degrees C), which is much more hospitable to dragonflies than the near-freezing levels that we had earlier in the week.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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We have had colder than normal weather this past week, so I was quite shocked to see a fairly large orange and black butterfly last Friday fluttering about at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Actually, when the butterfly opened its wings I could see its bright colors, but it kept them closed, the butterfly blended in well with the background and look simply like another fallen leaf.

In our area there are two butterflies that are very similar in appearance and I knew that this one was either and Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma) or a Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) butterfly. I am often amused by the names given to species in nature and I wonder what kind of a personality some has that decides to name two butterfly species after punctuation marks—almost certainly it was a scientist and not an artist.

You can tell the two species apart by the markings on both the outer and inner wings and I concluded that this one is probably a Question Mark. If you are curious about the differences, check out a posting by TrekOhio called “Butterflies that Punctuate: The Eastern Comma and the Question Mark” that goes into some detail in explaining how to tell the species apart.

In the next few days, the weather is supposed to warm up and hopefully more colorful insects will appear (and maybe even some more birds). It’ll be fun to see what I can find and photograph.

Question Mark butterfly

Question Mark butterfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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If this Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) had not been making so much noise as it thrashed about in the dry leaves, I might not have spotted it on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge—its camouflage is almost perfect, except for those startling eyes.

Brown Thrasher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am delighted to see that butterflies are finally appearing as we move deeper into spring, like this tiny Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus) that I spotted this past Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Since I was mostly looking for birds, I had my trusty Tamron 150-600mm lens on my camera. Although this lens is not optimal for such a small subject, it did a pretty good job in capturing the delightful details of this little butterfly, like the little “tails” at the bottom of the wings and the patches of orange on the wings themselves.

The same day I also saw a larger orange butterfly that I think was a Question Mark butterfly. If my photos are clear enough, I’ll probably post them soon. Stay tuned for coming attractions.

Gray Hairstreak

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was a little shocked (and really happy) to see this Yellow-throated Warbler (Setophaga dominica) at the edge of the water rather than high in a tree yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, allowing me to capture some of the bird’s beautiful markings.

A couple of weeks ago I caught a glimpse of a Yellow-throated Warbler for the first time, but that bird was high in a pine tree and too far away for me to appreciate fully its beauty. When I read about the species, I learned that it likes to spend its time near the top of the pines. So when I spotted a bird hopping along the rocks at the water’s edge yesterday, I was not expecting to see a Yellow-throated Warbler.

It was a cold, cloudy day and all of the colors seemed subdued—most of nature is still clothed in its monochromatic winter gard. My heart rate jumped when I saw a flash of bright yellow as I gazed at the little bird through my telephoto lens. It didn’t completely register on my mind that this was a Yellow-throated Warbler, but I knew for sure that it was a warbler.

When it comes to small, hyperactive birds, seeing them is one thing—getting a photo is an entirely different matter. One of the biggest challenges about using a long telephoto lens is locating the subject quickly when looking through the lens. It is a skill that improves with practice, but there were numerous times yesterday when I would locate the bird and it would move away as I was trying to acquire focus.

I followed after the bird, trying to keep it in sight as it moved down the shoreline. I was on a trail that paralleled the water, but there was often a strip of vegetation that separated me from the water and the warbler. Eventually I was able to get a few photos of the beautiful little bird before it disappeared from sight.

Whenever I see a new species, I am excited to get any shot of it, but then I seek to improve on those initial images. That was certainly the case with the Yellow-throated Warbler and I am hoping that I will be able to repeat this cycle with a few more warbler species this season.

 

Yellow-throated Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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