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.
A 10K race in the morning and a drive through Blackwater NWR in the afternoon. It was a perfect weather day, warm for November. Bald eagles are common at the reserve but that doesn’t make them any less interesting. This one is sitting on the former site of an osprey nest. Eagles enlarge their nest every year and it is not uncommon for eagles to steal the sticks from osprey nests. Next year when the osprey return, they will construct a new nest and the eagles will be raising their young in the newly expanded nest.
I paid a visit to the Smithsonian Biology Conservation Center on Sunday. Typically only once a year the public is invited to visit the center. This past weekend was ideal due to the mild temperature and slight breeze. There were exhibits explaining the activities undertaken by the scientists, researchers and interns at the center. My favorites were the birds i.e. Red Crowned cranes, kingfishers and rails. I tried to see the bison, but they were off in a small valley out of sight. Photographing the birds was a challenge since they were in enclosures with wire fence fronts. The lighting was also a challenge being fluorescent tubes and some other fixtures. A wide aperture helped with the fence and a neutral target helped with the lighting.
A hot July afternoon. Not the best time to go looking for birds but a very good time to look for butterflies and dragonflies. An overcast sky is very nice also. I didn’t have to contend with any harsh shadows – just nice even light all around.
A good opportunity to create some nice silhouettes.
I really like how the pond flora blends into a beautiful background.
I have recently rediscovered a local park. It had been years since my last visit. Back then it was a very overgrown area with a Civil War cemetery almost buried in it. It still has a National cemetery, but it is much more accessible. It’s just right for a casual morning or evening walk in the woods. On one of these walks I ran across some friends from the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy. They were scouting out wildflowers and had seen an owl nearby. Since it was still a few hours to dusk, I headed over to the general location. After listening to the owl hoot a few times I was able to locate him. He sat around while I set up the tripod and 600 mm lens. After a few minutes, I discovered his mate sitting in the opening of a large hole in an old tree. She watched me for a few minutes and then hopped into the hole in the tree. What a great discovery only a few minutes from home.