This weekend, I went to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) to locate a Great Horned Owl’s nest that I was recently told about. Unfortunately, the nest was empty and the owlets had fledged. Nevertheless, I was not totally disappointed because I saw and was able to photograph several other birds, many of which I had not seen before or very infrequently.
Early each spring, one of the very common birds to return to Occoquan Bay NWR are Ospreys (above and below). This Osprey was perched on a dead tree limb and did not seem to be bothered by my presence and occasionally stopped preening to take a close look at me. It was an overcast, cool morning with no color in the sky that provided perfect filtered light to capture this image.
Below is an image of a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. I had not seen one in three years. The grosbeak did not stay long, hid behind leaves in the trees and flew away quickly. It was a male; the females are drab and look much like a sparrow. I was disappointed that I could not get a clearer shot before it flew away.
Below is an adult male Blue-winged Warbler. They winter in Central America, and I suspect it, as well as the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, were migrating north through Virginia. The breeding male Blue-winged Warbler is unmistakable. It is yellow above and below. Its wings are gray with two white bars, and there is a black eye stripe. Females are duller, but otherwise similar. They feed on insects and spiders.
Below is a Yellow Warbler, one of over 50 species of warblers in North America. The Yellow Warbler was in a shaded location on an overcast day, and therefore, its brilliant yellow colors were not very well lit. As you can see, the Yellow Warbler does not have the black stripe behind its eye, like the Blue-winged Warbler above. Yellow Warblers winter in Central and South America and also feed on various insects that they forage in trees and shrubs.
The next two images are of a Yellow-rumped Warbler. It was very difficult to photograph the warblers, and in particular the Yellow-rumped Warbler, because they were constantly on the move, fluttering around the trees looking for prey. However, this Yellow-rumped Warbler sat still just long enough for me to get a couple of good photographs. I included both so the bright yellow stripes on its wings and on the top of its head can be seen. It gets its name because it has a yellow patch on its back above its tail, which cannot be seen in these images.
Below is a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher that was singing away, which provided an opportunity to photograph it. Otherwise, this bird was in constant motion hunting for insects in the trees. They often mimick the songs of other birds.
Much of the time at Occoquan Bay NWR, I saw many Red-winged Blackbirds, but the one below caught my attention as I was walking along the edge of a wetland. The Red-winged Blackbird was in a small dead tree, backed by the green new growth in the wetland and signing very loudly, as they often do. As you can see below, its chest was puffed out from a full, deep breath enabling it to call back and forth to other nearby Red-winged Blackbirds.
The above images and video are a small representation of the images that I captured last weekend. I am very impressed with the quality of the images I am capturing with my new Nikon D800. I will posting additional articles with more of the birds that I photographed last weekend to include more images from Sunday of the pair of Barred Owls that I have been monitoring.