Saturday, February 23, 2008

January 12, 2008 Birdwatching in Alexandria

In following sightings in the Va Audubon Society listserv, I came across two places identified as being in Alexandria: Lake Cook and Ben Brenmar Park. So, I searched on these on Yahoo Maps and found them. My wife decided to find these two places and see what was present. Then we headed on to Gravelly Point, located immediately north of Reagan National Airport on the GW Parkway.

Lake Cook is on Eisenhower Avenue, between S Van Dorn Street and the Eisenhower Connector off of the Beltway. Lake Cook, identified as being an "Urban Lake", is next to the Great Wave Park and the water slide. This lake feeds Cameron Run. Turn left just into a small lot next to a set of townhouses.

Ben Brenmar Park is located just off of Duke Street, east of Landmark Mall [several miles]. Turn right at the sign for Ben Brenmar. This park is located on part of the old Cameron Station Army facility. The park has a nice place to park or sit on benches and watch the wildlife.

The pictures taken at Ben Brenmar were actually from an arched bridge over Holmes Run. Holmes Run begins on the west side of Annandale Road, between Annandale and Falls Church.

Finally, Gravelly Point can only be accessed from the North-bound lanes of the GW Parkway; I access it from the ramp to Reagan National from Crystal City.

Two pairs of Mallards at Lake Cook

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron at Holmes Run (Ben Brenmar Park)

A pair of Mallards feeding
Two common mergansers
A pigeon at Gravelly Point
Ducks and Gulls at Gravelly Point

Two Musicians sitting on the dock at Gravelly Point
In-bound aircraft at Reagan National, landing gear down
Aircraft taking off, landing gear partially retracted
Fuselage of an American Airline
Jet Intake of an American Airline airliner

Monday, February 18, 2008

January 24, 2008, Eagle Watching at Pohick Bay Regional Park, Lorton, Va.

I chose to go early on a Thursday before work, hoping to take advantage of the
cold weather and see the eagles seen from Accotink Bay 4 days before [previous post].

I was shooting with my Canon Rebel XTi and a Canon 300 f/4 IS lense and TC-II doubler--hand held. The back-lighting against the 5 eagles seen from the small
boat put-in was poor. And, when I got closer than a certain range, the nearest
eagles would fly back a ways.

At the point where I went back to my car to change from a totally manual mode
[with TC x2] to autofocus and auto-tracking with the TC x 1.4 device, all of
the eagles began flying towards me. I wasn't prepared for them and didn't get
any overhead shots. The reason they all flew at once was an Everglades style
propellor driven (swamp) boat with a bunch of hunters returning from Ft Belvoir...the
boat was very loud.

Fortunately, I did get to see a great blue heron fly by, skimming the water.

Not the handsomest adult bald eagle

Airborne adult against the washed out sky
Adult flying majestically overhead

Five immature and adult bald eagles in a large tree by the small-boat put-in
Obliging great blue heron

Canadian geese by main pier
Canadian geese underway

Saturday, February 2, 2008

January 20 2008 Eagle Watching at Accotink Bay

Accotink Bay is an outstanding location to view adult and immature bald eagles in the winter. Accontink Bay is best accessed from the Archery Range on Ft Belvoir.

We arrived at the Archery Range in the early afternoon and were immediately welcomed by an immature bald eagle flying right above us. We observed a total of approximately 15 adult and immature bald eagles--most in Accotink Bay, and 4 - 5 across the way at Pohick Bay (small boat put-in at Pohick Bay Regional Park).

The eagles were particularly active--the morning temperature was in the teens.
We shot most of our pictures through the front window of the Honda Element--whose curvature presented some problems in focusing. I used my Canon Rebel XTi with a 2x TC and a 300mm IS lense. Use of the 2x TC made my camera operate in a strict manual mode--even the AF points would not light. It is hard to manually focus and track a moving overhead eagle. Thus, not all of the pictures below are crisp--but I wanted to show some of the content anyway.

Eagle on a water object. A second eagle leaving the water.

Five eagles in a tree across the way from the Archery Range.

Eagle snatching a fish out of the water

Common merganser

Eagle soaring above

Three eagles soaring above

Unknown Duck--note ring at base of bill

Another unidentified duck
Soaring immature bald eagle

Glorious immature bald eagle straight overhead

Same immature bald eagle soaring above

Sea gull in the nearby mud flats