Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tough couple days of birding - 23 Dec 2008

Winter is hitting the area hard these past few days. After a 6-8" snowfall last Friday the temps have dropped and the clouds have moved in. The result? Less than optimal birding / photography these past several days.

On Saturday (20th) I drove by the Detroit River and found the river completely iced over from Ecorse (Mud Island) south to well below Bishop Park in Wyandotte. A hundred or so Mute Swans and several dozen Canvasback were camped out on the ice at the foot of Southfield Rd. with only a few patches of open water. A few Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Redhead, Hooded Merganser, Mallard and Ruddy Duck were also found. But otherwise there were no gulls and too much ice. As of today the river is still choked with ice

I made a quick run down to Pt. Mouillee HQ Saturday afternoon and also found few birds. A few Mourning Doves and Dark-eyed Juncos picked at bird seed alongside the road near the fence and found company among several American Tree Sparrows. The fencerow at the entrance to the HQ hosted a dozen Northern Cardinals, a pair of Red-winged Blackbirds and a couple of Black-capped Chickadees.

The Huron River and mouth of Lake Erie was frozen, but a few patches of open water held several Bufflehead and a Lesser Scaup. Despite the clear skies over Trenton and Wyandotte a heavy line of clouds over Monroe Co. put a dark pall over the SGA. Still, I attempted to digiscope a nearby Bufflehead in the subzero windchill, and managed a few keepers. I also digiscoped a first-cycle Herring Gull that gave me fits trying to ID since it appeared much paler than normal. I suspected Lesser Black-blacked Gull based on dark eye smudge and relatively slender bill, but wing projection appears short. Anyone have an opinion?

Today I drove down to Lake Erie Metropark and ran into a mini-blizzard. I thought walking through the woods would allow some photography and relief from the blowing snow, but all I got was 8" of snow to tromp through. The woods were relatively quiet, but I did run into scattered flocks of American Robins and several White-throated Sparrows. I found a chattering Yellow-rumped Warbler, several Downy Woodpeckers, and a cute Brown Creeper. Carrying the camera and flash through the snow required a large white towel to keep the snow away. The binoculars didn't fare so well - they were coated in snow along with the eyeglasses.

I decided against checking out Pt. Mouillee since the snow was refusing to slow, so I gathered my snow-covered camera, binoculars, glasses, etc. and slogged home to shovel.

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