I was chasing Monarch butterflies in Congaree National Park. One was fluttering around near the water and would sometimes land on the cyprus knees. I was very intent on capturing a shot that I forgot to look around. When I finally realized I wasn’t going to get the shot, I stopped and had a look around. Looking up I saw this owl in a tree not 40 feet away. It was watching me for a bit and then got bored (I suspect). What a surprise to see this bird so close and not being scared off when it realized it had been discovered.
Not far away is the Ball’s Bluff National Historic Area. The area includes woods, a small meadow and a cemetery. Lots of birds make this area home and it is common to hear a Barred Owl calling in the early evening. Along with the birds are many wildflowers. It is amazing how many flowers can be found in a very small patch. I photograph flowers lying down with the camera mounted on a Platypod Pro. The mount places the camera lens about four inches off the ground. The low angle of view puts a nice perspective to the flowers. The mount also allows for a very steady camera for longer exposures as the sun drops below the horizon. I especially like the “golden hour” effect on the flowers.
Over the past several years a drive through the Blackwater National Wildlife Reserve would included a view of a pair of Bald Eagles. Often the pair would be quite a distance off offering only a glimpse of the birds. Sometimes the eagles will perch on an old tree near the drive. I was lucky on a recent drive to find the eagles on the tree only a few hundred feet away. The sun was just an “inch” off the horizon but it was enough light to make the shot. I was using a 600mm lens with a 1.4 extender on a crop sensor camera.
This rare visitor to Northern Virginia has been quite an attraction. The Northern Shrike or also known as the Grey Shrike does not normally come as far south as Virginia. This bird has been hanging around the Woodlands park for a few weeks and is easy to spot. Getting good pictures can be a problem because it perches high up in the trees for a good look around for food. Over a period of a few hours though, I noticed there were a few favorite spots where he returned to often. I took advantage and got a few good shots using a 600mm lens with a 1.4 extender. Next time I go, I’ll bring along a crop sensor camera and maybe get a little larger image.