Monday, February 2, 2009

Opportunities - 01 Feb 2009

Happy first of February. With sunny skies and forecast for high 30's it was a perfect time for me (or so I thought) to head down to Pt. Mouillee to check for a possible Snowy Owl. Donning snowshoes I headed up the Middle Causeway toward the Long Pond, Vermet and Lead Units and quickly realized what a pain in the @$$ this was. The snowshoes kept coming loose, and all I managed to do was kick snow all over myself, so I removed and left them in a snow bank for the trip back. Recently a truck drove along the road so I took advantage of the tire tracks to continue on foot. I walked for 45 minutes or so and decided to turn back after seeing and hearing absolutely nothing.

A drive along Roberts and Rheaume Rds. (Rockwood Landfill) also yielded nothing. So I headed back north to check out Pt. Mouillee HQ.

The gate at the entrance held the usual flocks of Chickadees, Tree Sparrows, Song Sparrows and Northern Cardinals, so stopped to get a few pics of an obliging female Cardinal. At one point the bush held 20 birds, mostly males.
The parking lot was empty except for a single ice fisherman, and as I drove along the perimeter a Northern Harrier drifted by just out of camera range (missed it by 30 seconds). The river and bay were frozen, so there were no birds around. As I left the area I stopped on the small bridge and spotted a Cooper's Hawk (immature) getting a drink from a break in the ice. A couple of pics and a few minutes later, it took off for a higher perch and provided a few flight shots in the backlit skies.

Next stop was Lake Erie Metropark, where I spotted a Great Horned Owl nesting in one of the trees that line the south side of the park as you enter. One adult was one the nest, but with the sun backlighting the nest only eartufts could be seen.

A drive down to the lake produced hundreds of Tundra Swans, Common Goldeneye and Canvasbacks. I pulled the scope out and attempted a few digiscoped images of the Tundra Swans resting along shore, and missed the opportunity to get flight shots of a flock of birds that flew in low from the west. Several Bald Eagles were soaring overhead, but too far away to bother photographing. The boat ramp was ice-free, but only Mute Swans were swimming nearby. I didn't have time to walk the nature trails around the Marshland Museum, but stopped just long enough to photograph a Sharp-shinned Hawk perching quite a distance away. Clouds were moving in, so I headed home just in time to watch the Pine Siskins, Common Redpolls and American Goldfinches empty the five thistle feeders I filled first thing this morning.

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