I took a brief walk at Erie Marsh this morning and realized that I'm still a few days to a week early for waterfowl. Red-winged Blackbirds were singing atop trees and scrapping for territory. Several pairs of Northern Shovelers were seen in the canals near the preserve entrance along w/ numerous Hooded Mergansers. The inland ponds were still frozen, as were the corn fields, and no ducks were to be found, so I opted to shorten my walk after about a 1/4 mile on the muddy dike. My only photo opp was a pair of Bufflehead in the creek just north of the parking lot. Hundreds of Red-wings were massing along the ditches along I-75 south of Monroe, and several Killdeer were observed flying over as I headed north to Pt. Mouillee. As I turned down Roberts Rd. a Northern Harrier passsed overhead and disappeared into the Landfill.
Parking at Roberts Rd. I saw a light-phase Rough-legged Hawk flying west toward the landfill and an adult Bald Eagle along the shoreline. Dozens of Bufflehead were swimming along the edge of the bit of ice still clinging to the shoreline. Several pairs of Lesser Scaup were also present. The Lead Unit was still frozen except for a patch of open water near the cattail marsh at the west end. This water held 100's of American Coot, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, American Wigeon (several pair) and Common Merganser. This pair of Canada Geese appeared to be waiting for the ice to melt, as well. I walked as far as Cell 2 and scoped the Lead Unit near the Middle Causeway. Hundreds more of the above-mentioned ducks were swimming in more open patches of ice, along with a pair of Bald Eagles. I took advantage of the slow morning to practice flight shots of passing Canada Geese, including this group that had an individual w/ a few feather issues.
I suspect that the ice will be gone by mid-week and the ducks will be back in full force.
Leaving the parking lot I spotted an adult Cooper's Hawk in the trees at the south end of the road, and while attempting to photograph it an immature Bald Eagle flew by, so I took a few pics of it. At the landfill I spotted an immature Red-tailed Hawk sitting in a tree. After a few pics it took off and flew into the landfill. As it soared above the hills the Rough-legged Hawk reappeared and was joined by (3) Red-tails and a Northern Harrier forming a small kettle just off the edge of the road. With the gray skies the circling hawks appeared as silhouettes, so I took the opportunity to show differences in shape between a Rough-legged and Red-tail in flight!