Saturday, April 30, 2016

Prelude to The Biggest Week in American Birding - 30 Apr 2016

With only a couple of days from the start of The Biggest Week in American Birding Festival in NW Ohio I decided to make a run down to Magee Marsh and the Boardwalk. Despite cool, breezy temps and slight overcast the place was hopping with birds and people. This Ruby-crowned Kinglet was singing and foraging near a (hopefully) receptive female.

I spotted this Brown Thrasher on the drive into the boardwalk area. Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets, Pectoral Sandpipers, a Wilson's Snipe, and Lesser Yellowlegs were in the marshes along the main drive.

Yellow Warbler was the first official warbler photographed this spring. I had to shoot through vegetation to get it.

Palm Warblers and Yellow-rumped Warblers are the dominant warbler right now, but that will change w/ the next wave of birds in a day or two. Things are a bit stagnant with  the cool, wet weather of the past few days.

Louisiana and Northern Waterthrushes were spotted on the boardwalk. A Field Sparrow, Swamp and Song Sparrows were spotted, as well. Gray Catbird and more Brown Thrashers (left) were moving through the understory. Overhead the Tree Swallows were actively nesting and chattering. I would dip on Pine Warbler and Prothonotary Warblers. Even Chipping Sparrows made an appearance!

A walk along the Estuary Trail stirred up several House Wrens, and a very cooperative Warbling Vireo. I digiscoped it from 25' away.

I drove over to Ottawa NWR and photographed the Trumpeter Swans on nest.

Just before driving out I spotted these adorable Killdeer babies.

I'll be in Miami this week, but hope to get back here next week when the next wave of warblers come in!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Point Mouillee Waterfowl - 17 Apr 2016

Clear skies and mild temps are the rule for the weekend. With the housework done I decided to make a run down to Point Mouillee SGA for a bike ride and some digiscoping w/ the new Sony a6300. I parked at Siegler Rd. and headed out onto the North Causeway. Five Horned Grebes greeted me as they swam in the Huron River to my left.  One was close enough to digiscope but was swimming toward the sun, so lighting was a challenge.

The Long Pond Unit was hosting good numbers of Canada Geese and American Coot. A pair of Greater Scaup swam quietly among them and provided some nice images from both the Nikon D7100 and Sony a6300.

I rode the dike between  Vermet and Long Pond Units toward the Middle Causeway and met up with Todd Palgut. We rode together toward the Banana Unit where we ran into Dan Fox, and another pair of Horned Grebes in Cell 4.

Looping around to the east side of Cell 3 we saw a nice flock of Dunlin and a half dozen or so Bonaparte's Gulls and Forster's Terns. A good mix of ducks were swimming in Cell 3 including Northern Shovelers, Gadwall, a single Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Blue-winged Teal, Mallard, and Ruddy Ducks.

Another couple of groups of Horned Grebes were swimming in the calm waters of Lake Erie, and a Bonaparte's Gull among one group could not be turned into a Little Gull. We flushed 3 Northern Flickers as we rode around the south end of Cell 3, but couldn't move fast enough to get photos.

I would head back to the car along the east side of Vermet Unit and the North Causeway. A Killdeer was tending a nest precariously located along the edge of the road, and I worry for the fate of the eggs when road traffic comes along.

More Horned Grebes were swimming close enough to shore to attempt some digiscoping, but lighting was tricky, and the birds kept diving and reappearing for just moments; enough to make digiscoping a exercise in frustration.

As I scanned the Huron River I spotted a Common Loon swimming and diving lazily in the late morning sun. It would not come closer, though.

I would ride back to the car, stopping just long enough to grab some pics of fly-by Forster's Terns and Bonaparte's Gulls.

A side trip down Haggerman Rd brought an unusual tally of sightings: Ospreys more numerous than both Horned Larks and Savannah Sparrows! There were four Osprey (2 flying and 2 perched on the ground) and only 2 each of the larks and sparrows along the road. An Eastern Meadowlark was singing in the distance.

Friday, April 15, 2016

A 4-Year Old Can Do This - 14 Apr 2016

Eastern Bluebird through back window
Robin and I had the opportunity to babysit our 4-yr GrandNephew Sam and his 14-mo old Sister, Sloane this evening. When we weren't playing soccer, playing football, hanging out by the pond, or looking for (hiding) Buffy and Asia, we were watching the birds at the feeder.

I had my Nikon D7100, 300/2.8 VRII + 1.7TCII set up on the Jobu Jr. Gimbal Head and Tripod in the  sunroom here at Brownton Abbey, and Sam wanted to take some pictures. So, I let him loose. 750 photos later he had some impressive images. Most were blurry - he hasn't learned what the term focus means, but he was able to track some birds and even get some enviable photos.  So, this Guest Blog is dedicated to Master Sam Geiger:

American Goldfinch and Pine Siskin

American Robin

because he wanted to photograph the tail...

Northern Cardinal

Ok, I took this one

and this one

Our first yard Eastern Bluebird checked out the nest box, and Sam got photos of it in flight!


Pine Siskin and House Finch

Mallard visited the feeders tonight!

Through an open window

female Mallard drinking water

This kid may have a future.  Well done, Sam!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Eared Grebe - 08 Apr 2016

A large number of Horned Grebes have been seen moving through the Great Lakes Region the past few days. An Eared Grebe has been seen in several locations in SE Michigan, including Sterling State Park in Monroe Co. Today, Jeff Stacey posted that one in breeding plumage was ridiculously close to shore just inside the park.

I decided to run down to Sterling State Park after work to look for the Eared Grebe. I arrived just after 3:30 pm and saw Pat Jakel in his truck looking across the road to the marsh on my left. The Eared Grebe was swimming next to shore just 40' away.

I grabbed the scope and digiscoped it from the road, then waited until it dove to move closer. It paid us no mind and allowed me to get some nice digiscoped images from 30' away with the new Sony a6300 attached to the 20-75X Zoom Eyepiece.

By 4 pm I was heading back home. The Eared Grebe swam out to the middle of the pond to join as many as 13 Horned Grebes swimming together. Several more were in the pond on the other side of the road as I drove out.

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