Monday, April 21, 2008

Snowy Egret - 15 Apr 2008

It was clear and sunny this afternoon and slightly windy. Parking at Mouillee Creek I biked up the Middle Causeway of Pt. Mouillee and found water levels to be really high in the cells. Stopping at the Walpatch Unit the Tree Swallows were feeding and flying by the dozens in the calm waters. Several pairs of Lesser Scaup and Bufflehead were swimming and courting. As I reached the pumphouse I stopped and digiscoped several pairs of Lesser Scaup through the cattails. A pair of Caspian Terns flew overhead.

At the Lautenshager Unit the muddy fields were loaded with dozens of Blue- and Green-winged Teal. I managed a few flight shots of the Teal as they flew by, but they kept a good distance. A flock of 65 Dunlin were the only shorebirds seen in the field. A surprising find, however, was a Snowy Egret feeding alongside a much larger Greater Egret. I managed a couple record shots as it flew off into the deeper portions of the Unit, but was unable to get any digiscoped images.

Heading north along the dike between the Bloody Run and Vermet Units I managed to scare up a few more Teal and several Northern Shovelers. A few Ruddy Ducks and Common Mergansers were out in the Huron River along the North Causeway, but otherwise the water was choppy and relatively free of birds. The Vermet Unit was also relatively quiet save for a few million American Coot! I'm exaggerating, but there were a good thousand or so birds....

The woods along the Banana Unit were relatively quiet save for a few Red-winged Blackbirds and American Robins. A Carolina Wren was singing in the deep woods, but never came closer. A Northern Flicker made a nice subject for digiscoping but was perched in bad light.

Returning down the Middle Causeway I stopped and tried to photograph a Marsh Wren that was singing in the phragmites, but it never came out. Continuing on, an Osprey was perched atop the tower in the Lead Unit, and a Northern Harrier was flying out over the Vermet Unit. Battling clouds of midges, I got almost back to the Lautenshager Unit when I realized I was missing my tripod leg. Having to turn around, I biked back to the Marsh Wren location and found the leg stuck in the mud near where the bird could still be heard singing. I retrieved the leg, and headed back to the car. Just before reaching the car, however, I photographed a lovely Mute Swan with wings spread in the setting sun!

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