Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Saturday, January 14, 2017
Patrick Wright had found a Townsend's Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi) at Island Lake State Recreation Area on 8 Jan 2017. Since then, several birders have been able to relocate the bird despite its gregarious range in the SRA and the miserable crappy weather the past four days. I decided to drive out there this morning to look for the bird, myself.
My adventure started a bit early, unfortunately. I was forced off the highway on the way to my destination, which caused my camera to slide off the front seat and onto the floor. When I reached the parking lot I noticed the autofocus failed to work. Removing the teleconverter restored autofocus to the camera, but I then could not get it back on the camera. So, I went to work using the naked 300/2.8 VRII on the D500.
I met Joe Kasniewski in the parking lot near the dunes where the bird was last located. The flooded trails had frozen overnight so walking was treacherous. We found our way to the last known coordinates and started looking around. Nothing. We would eventually see Myles McNally, Andrew Simon and Andrea Rose in the area. Nothing from them, either.
We headed back to the dunes and split up. I headed back toward the trees, and after a few minutes spotted the bird flying out over the lake and landing in a tree near Joe. After a few minutes it flew back toward me, but I couldn't get the camera out of my harness and missed it flying right over my head. Ugh.
The poor lighting would require a digiscoped video in order to get any usable pics.
Joe and I would then head back to our cars, but not before stopping to try to get some last looks at the bird before it flew back toward the lake. It was great meeting you, Joe, and thanks for all the help finding the bird (and my car...).
I quickly learned that temperatures were a good 10 degrees cooler near Lake Erie, and a fairly stiff wind was blowing from the north, so my quiet / mild evening suddenly got COLD! Lucky for me I had a face mask and a second hat, as I would need both to survive this suddenly-stupid idea. The Border Patrol guy had it right; he was parked at the junction of Vermet / Long Pond Units, and had the heat running. I waved and rode past before dismounting and walking the rest of the way.
I got about half way along the dike and spotted a single Short-eared Owl perched on a post next to the Middle Causeway. I was too far away to get any pics, and it was gone by the time I got close enough to digiscope. As it got dark I just stood and listened to the dozens of Tundra Swans trumpeting as they flew past in flocks of 10-20 birds. Otherwise, it was only me and the wind. And cold.
I was suddenly startled by the bugling of a flock of Sandhill Cranes flying overhead. 26 birds! eBird would later consider this a rare sighting. A single Northern Harrier was also making the last round of the night before settling down for a night's sleep.
I stayed long enough to lose visuals through the scope and started back to the car. I would have a bit of difficulty finding the bike next to the trail in the dark, but managed to get back to the car without ditch-diving. I was also fortunate that the road had refrozen, which made riding easier.
US-MI-Rockwood-37205 Pte Mouille, Monroe, Michigan, US
Jan 13, 2017 5:37 PM - 6:37 PM
Comments: Went before dark specifically for Short-eared Owls. Saw one bird perched for several minutes. Inland ponds frozen.
6 species (+1 other taxa)
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) 10
Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus) 50
American Black Duck/Mallard (Anas rubripes/platyrhynchos) 100
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) 1
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) 1
Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis) 26 Flock of 26 flew overhead just before dark moving south. Heard them bugling before looking up. Photos available if needed.
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) 1
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/
This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)
Sunday, January 8, 2017
A couple of images from the past week. I photographed a Northern Flicker in the yard on the 7th of January, and managed to get a flight shot as it took off. Now you know why they're called Yellow-shafted Flickers!
Sunday, January 1, 2017
Allen arrived at 6:30 am and announced that he had heard 2 Saw-Whet Owls in the woods behind the Nature Center. We then headed down Center Road and stopped to try for more Saw-Whets. When Allen played the distressed call we got an immediate response. Soon, a bird was "toot-toot-toot"-ing in the distance. At that point Pat Jakel and Joe Hammerle arrived, and we heard 3 different birds calling from 3 directions. One bird called for 10 minutes straight!
At our third location we heard another 2 Saw-Whet Owls calling, as well as another Screech Owl.
We returned to the woods to look for roosting Saw-Whets, but would not find any. Allen called Karl and got locations for the Red-headed Woodpecker (also found yesterday), Northern Mockingbird, and Eastern Towhees that Karl had seen this morning. We would refind the adult Red-headed Woodpecker, but it stayed far enough away to prevent photos from being taken.
I took off for home while the rest of the gang continued to look for the Northern Mockingbird (yes) and Eastern Towhee (yes).
Nice start to 2017!