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.
The Master Gardener’s Demo Garden in Leesburg offers opportunities to view and photograph many varieties of plants and flowers. Butterflies and birds are also often visitors to the garden.
When you travel to new places, you can expect to see new birds. My trip to Magee Marsh did not disappoint. Aside from seeing many warblers I had not seen before, I got to see several night-hawk. The night-hawk were resting on horizontal tree branches which often made them appear essentially as bumps-on-a-log. The bird in the picture had been resting when I passed it several times during the day. This time it was awake and preening. This image was made using a 100/400 Canon lens from a distance of about 25 feet. The bird was quite close but didn’t seem to mind all the folks gathered around watching. It didn’t even seem to mind when a discussion came up debating if it was a night-hawk or a whip-or-will. Both “camps” were equally adamant as to the identity. I remained neutral and the bird was silent on the debate. When I returned to my room, I did a little ‘net research and found the night-hawk was expected to be in the area. There was no mention of a Whip-or-will for the month or locality. If I were to find it really is a whip-or-will, well that would still be a lifer for me.
Magee Marsh is well-known for the warblers passing through during the migrations. That is why I was there a few weeks ago. Aside from warblers, there are plenty of other species to see and enjoy. Many are quite close allowing for a detailed study of their features.
The House Wren above is a local nester. He was singing, perhaps to attract a mate or maybe to announce his territory. Like an orchestra warming up, each instrument playing a different phrase, this wren added his voice to the hundreds of others in the marsh. The result was a mass confusion of sound but if you listened carefully, you could pick out the phrases of individuals.
Red-winged Blackbirds were in abundance. You could see them almost anywhere you looked and if not visible, they could be heard. As many RWBBs there were, it was difficult to get good pictures of them. They didn’t stay still long, always moving about in and out of shadows, turning their backs, flying off, etc. Many of the females could be found foraging on the ground. This position allowed for a study of the colors and patterns on the back, but not great pics otherwise.
Magee Marsh is about the warblers, so to end this post, a Magnolia Warbler preening.