Sunday, October 12, 2008

Butter-butts! - 10 Oct 2008

I took a vacation day and headed down to Lake Erie Metropark in southern Wayne Co. Forecasts called for sunny skies and temps in the high 60's, so I was hoping to catch some of the late season migrants in the park.

Leaving the house at 6 am I made a first stop along Roberts Rd. (Pt. Mouillee) to look for owls. Dodging the construction trucks I pulled over to the side of the road and made Screech Owl calls to see if I could pull one in. Within minutes I had two Screech Owls calling from just a few feet away. I forgot a flashlight, so I had to hope that they would land where I could see their silhouettes. Sure enough, one bird flew up into a tree overhead, and all I could do was fire the flash into the trees and hope for a hit. I managed to catch its tail in the top right corner of the frame, and the bird flew off. Still, a nice start to the day.

Driving over to LEMP I headed to the Marshland Museum. Grabbing the camera, flash, and Better Beamer I headed into the woods across from the building. Northern Cardinals and White-throated Sparrows were quite vocal, and a number of birds were moving in the thickets. A few Ruby-crowned Kinglets were flitting through the branches as well.

Farther along the trail a Great Horned Owl flushed and was chased by a bunch of American Robins. Robins were everywhere, and were joined in the tree tops by several small flocks of Common Grackles. It was a bit dizzying trying to follow all the birds in the trees and in the thickets.

Stopping by one of the boardwalks I flushed several Wood Ducks, and saw several more off in the distance. A pair of Swamp Sparrows played at the base of the phragmites, but were too fast to digiscope. A Carolina Wren sang from somewhere deeper in the thick weeds.

Returning to the trail I was greeted by a small flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers. At least a dozen birds were flying in the trees next to the trail and were feeding on the white berries of the crimson-colored Woodbine that covered the trees. I was frustrated trying to get shots of the warblers as they paused momentarily, but the Better Beamer helped. Putting the flash on iTTL and -2/3 comp. I managed a few captures from about 10 feet away.

Continuing along the trail I ran into a second, then third flock of Yellow-rumps. Several hundred shots later I managed maybe one or two more keepers.

Heading across the road toward the lake I saw still more Yellow-rumps and several Warbling Vireos still hanging around. Another Carolina Wren appeared, but stayed out of photo range.

A Greater Yellowlegs was heard somewhere out near the Lotus pond, but I couldn't see it.

Time to head home, since we have plans to drive to Antrim Co. this afternoon!

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