Thursday, February 26, 2015

Balmy 20's! - 25 Feb 2014

Even though temps are in the teens the sun makes the day feel 'mild'. This Red-breasted Merganser was preening on an ice flow that had moved by the Wyandotte Boat Launch.

A female Greater Scaup was the only other duck in the area. My five minute visit was well rewarded!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wyandotte Waterfowling - 24 Feb 2015

The Wyandotte Boat Launch was surprisingly productive this afternoon. I stopped by after work and parked along the fence at the end of the dock and spent about an hour photographing a wide array of ducks on the Detroit River. The highlight was this male Red-breasted Merganser that came close to the fence. It was overcast and windy, and brutally cold, but not horribly uncomfortable inside the car.

Redhead and Canvasback were the first subjects. The Canvasback tended to bully the Redheads, as did the Mallard.

Quite a few Red-breasted Mergansers were out on the river, but nowhere near shore. So I was quite happy when this lovely male drifted by and allowed some nice closeups from inside the car. I did wait until he dove before jumping out and getting photos next to the fence.

Greater Scaup were also swimming by, but were more shy. Only after things really settled down did they drift close enough for some photos.

A juvenile male Red-breasted Merganser swam in and provided some nice portraits, as well. Note the dark patches around the eyes. This helps to distinguish them from females of both merganser species.

A few Common Mergansers made an appearance near the middle of the river, but this male was close enough to photograph.

Once things slowed down enough I took a quick drive to nearby Bishop Park and found several Canvasback floating by next to the dock. I was able to pop over the top of the railing and grab a few pics before they swam off.

Another scaup pair were also swimming by the dock and didn't notice me overhead until the last moment. 

Still Cold! - 23 Feb 2015

A week of subzero temps continue here in SE Michigan, and the ducks are not happy about it! The Great Lakes are seeing ice cover that is now more extensive than last year when the Polar Vortex ruled the Earth. Here along the Detroit River there is surprisingly a decent amount of open water, but duck numbers are a bit sparse.

This Ruddy Duck swam by the Wyandotte Boat Launch while a female Canvasback napped in the mid-afternoon sunight on an ice flow next to shore.

No warm-up forecasted for the near future...

Friday, February 13, 2015

Cold Weather Coming! - 12 Feb 2015

Forecasts call for subzero temps this weekend, and right now the windchill are in single digits after work this afternoon. I took a swing by the Wyandotte Boat Launch at the foot of St. John's and found a small flock of Canvasback and Mallard milling around the dock. The Canvasbacks were already feeling the effects of the wind and were hunkering down in the late afternoon sun.

A pair of Mute Swans ignored the cold and continued to forage just  few feet away.

A flock of Redhead flew in but stayed far enough away to avoid sharp photos. But a Common Goldeneye swam by on a mission and provided a pic or two.

Bundle up! Its going to be a cold weekend.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Finally, A Bit o' Thaw - 07 Feb 2015

With the next two days of temps above freezing we're finally seeing a bit of a thaw. Last week was tough with 14" of snow on Sunday and near-zero temps the rest of the week, so today is a welcome relief.

I arrived at Point Mouillee shortly before overcast-up and hiked through heavy snow from the Mouillee Creek parking lot. Within a quarter mile, though, the snow on the dikes thinned to just a few inches, so walking became much easier. Unfortunately, birds were hard to come by. I did see a flock of ~60 American Tree Sparrows, but it was still too dark to photograph them. The highlight, however, was seeing 6 Northern Harriers! Two of them were males, while the remainders were females/juveniles.

A lone Coyote in the distance rounded out the sightings.

I did not see any Snowy Owls as I scanned the Humphries and Vermet Units from the Middle Causeway. Audible greetings included Northern Cardinal, Horned Lark, and European Starling. A Red-shouldered Hawk was seen early in my walk flying to the south, and I later heard it's "Keer-Keer-Keer" scream near the Roberts Rd. entrance.

I returned to the car early enough that I decided to drive out to Willow Run Airport in Romulus. I would not see any Snow Buntings or Lapland Longspurs, but a small group of six Horned Larks were feeding on the side of the road. One bird remained long enough for a few pics from just a few feet away.

This American Kestrel was perched in the field across from the airport along the service drive, and I was able to get a few digiscoped images before it flew off for good (it had flown off but returned to its perch after a light-hearted swoop over the snow).

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