Tuesday, December 30, 2008

30 Bald Eagle day - 29 Dec 2008

Clear skies greeted the morning, so I took a quick run down to Pt. Mouillee at 5 am to look for Screech Owls. Stopping along Roberts Rd. I made a quick couple of Screech Owl calls and, within minutes had a reply. Unfortunately I was unable to locate the nearby owl w/ a flashlight. After a few minutes I moved down the road another 1/2 mile and tried again. This time a second bird replied, but still remained out of view despite my best efforts. I decided to head home for breakfast and coffee.

Returning to Lake Erie Metropark I parked at the Marshland Museum and walked the trail to look for Long-eared Owls. It appeared that yesterday's high winds may have damaged the roost area since many of the grape-vine tangles were knocked down. A Cooper's Hawk flushed from the area as I peered in from the trail. However, I did not see any owls. A few Tree Sparrows and White-throated Sparrows made high-pitched call notes from deep within the tangles.

As I continued on I found hundreds of waterfowl along the Lake Erie shoreline and counted 8 Bald Eagles fishing and roosting in the trees. A Carolina Wren sang from the phragmites and several pairs of Downy Woodpeckers chased and foraged among the trees overhead. Driving over to the Wave Pool I walked down into the woods along the shoreline and found a pair of Winter Wrens, several Golden-crowned Kinglets, and a lovely Red-bellied Woodpecker. The 8 Bald Eagles I had seen earlier suddenly flushed from the trees around me and disappeared across the bay to parts unknown. I spent a few minutes watching several Great Blue Herons roosting on the ice among dozens of Mute Swans and Mallard. A fly-by flock of four Northern Pintails were a surprise, as was a single Gadwall and several Ring-necked Ducks.

Heading back to the car I then drove over to Pt. Mouillee HQ to check to mouth of the Huron River. Ice was gone from from the river, but some was still clinging along the lake shore. As I scanned the trees of the small island directly out from boat ramp I counted 15 Bald Eagles roosting in the tree tops. Another 4 eagles were scattered along the ice, and another three were in the trees near Riverside Park to my rear. The 22 birds may have included the 8 I flushed earlier, but 30 birds in a morning is a good thing!

As I scoped the gulls roosting on the ice in front of me I became aware of several Golden-crowned Kinglets in the pines adjacent to the boat launch. As I searched for them the flock suddenly took to the air. Hoping to see a Peregrine Falcon I instead saw an adult Bald Eagle flying direcly toward me along the water. As it passed just a few feet above eye-level I managed to capture a few pics.

Once the gulls settled again I concentrated on digiscoping a nearby Herring Gull, pausing just long enough to practice flight shots on passing Herring Gulls (this one a 1st winter bird). After a few minutes of digiscoping I noticed another Bald Eagle soaring overhead, and took several frames as the immature bird floated directly overhead. Its passing caused a Northern Harrier to take flight from the nearby phragmites and head across the channel to the North Causeway.

I then headed home for lunch, stopping just long enough to grab a quick photo of a roosting Red-tailed Hawk along Gibraltar Rd. The forecast for this afternoon is increasing clouds and winds to again pick up with gusts to 40 mph.


dAwN said...

Well that was a good full day of birding!Nice shots..

Patricia R Gamburd said...

Jerry - nice pics - too bad I was up north

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