Monday, March 2, 2009

Out like a Lion! - 28 Feb 2009

February ended with a reminder that Winter has not given up its ghost. Saturday morning we woke to temperatures that reached -20ºF in Central Lake! Skies were clear and blue but the air had a sting to it. Still, temps reached -11ºF by 8:30 am and would reach the teens by noon.

Robin and I drove up to the condo here in Central Lake on Friday afternoon. Along the way we managed to see a fly-over Sandhill Crane along I-96W at Island Lake Recreation area. Further north along US-127 we spotted an adult Bald Eagle feeding on a carcass on the still frozen Maple River State Game Area while a juvenile eagle soared overhead. Fifteen minutes later we saw a pair of American Kestrel, an immature Rough-legged Hawk, and an immature Northern Harrier just before the Ithaca exit. The harrier was perched in a tree along the roadside, but traffic was too heavy for me to slow down.


With temps as cold as they were Saturday morning we decided to take a ride to Traverse City. After lunch in Elk Rapids we returned to the condo. With clear skies I decided to drive down to the bridge that separates Intermediate and Hanley Lakes. Only a small patch of open water existed below the bridge, but it managed to hold several pairs of Common Goldeneye, a pair of Hooded Mergansers, and a pair of Bufflehead.

I spent a half-hour or so digiscoping several male Goldeneye that swam and courted nearby females. They would swim half-submerged with just their bills sticking out of water. A pair of drake Hooded Mergansers also allowed a few pics to be taken, but lighting was not favorable for any keepers. So I decided to walk across the street and check out the canal.

Across the bridge in the small canal connecting the two lakes a male Bufflehead and a second Goldeneye swam close enough for a few photos. The sun bouncing off the rippling water and some of the reflections from background objects made for some interesting patterns on the water.

With fingers getting numb I headed back to the condo and found three Black-capped Chickadees playing in the bare tree next to the garage. One bird stayed long enough to scold me for taking its photo. With that I packed the car and we headed back home.

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