Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Quiz bird! - 09 Mar 2009

I grabbed the D300 this afternoon and put a Kenko 300 1.4 Teleconverter on the Sigma 400 mm f/5.6 to see how stable the monopod would be. Walking out the back door I spotted a number of birds at the feeders and fired away from about 30 feet. This little streaky bird caught my attention. Hmm... Plain head, streaky sides, wing bar. House Finch? Pine Siskin? What was your initial thought? If you had read Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink" you may have correctly identified this bird at first glance, without knowing exactly what tipped you off. Many times that initial 'gut feeling' is the correct one. But then we start thinking about what we're seeing and then change our minds with negative consequences. But before I give the correct answer (I think) I'd like to review the rest of my day.
The weekend's rains brought localized flooding and soggy everything. But this Monday afternoon the sun was shining and winds were calm. With numerous sightings of migrating geese (Greater White-fronted, Snow and Ross') coming from around the state and Canada, I felt a need to at least make a quick run down to Pt. Mouillee in case something good should fly into my windshield.

Driving down West Jefferson past Lake Erie Metropark I spotted a roosting American Kestrel next to the road, but was unable to stop due to traffic pressure. Continuing on to Campau Rd. I slowly cruised the muddy road looking for anything to photograph. Alas, things were quiet. The creeks and ditches were flooded and swollen, and only a Great Blue Heron and a pair of Hooded Mergansers could be seen in the distance. The water surrounding the HQ were up and oddly devoid of waterfowl. Only a pair of Canada Geese, a small group of six Ruddy Ducks, and a Greater Scaup could be seen toward the mouth of the Huron River. Deciding not to stick around I made a quick trip to the parking lot at the foot of Siegler Rd.

The bare field on the north side of the road was soaked with water, but no birds were found. Still too early for Woodcock or Wilson's Snipe... A large flock of Common Grackles were flying back and forth between the trees lining the shoreline and the corn field in the Nelson Unit. A few pics from the car window and I was heading back to Lake Erie Metropark.

The Great Horned Owl nesting at the entrance was sitting high atop her/his nest and could easily be seen from the road. I put the scope on her/him but visible air convections in my view convinced me not to try digiscoping from a distance.

I parked at the Marshland Museum and took a quick walk along the trail. I met a nice couple looking for the Long-eared Owl(s) and talked with them for a few minutes. Though we failed to see any owls I did manage a few photos of a flock of passing Cedar Waxwings. Leaving them to continue looking I continued on around the path.

As I approached the second Great Horned Owl nest I managed to see it through a break in the woods. Standing on a short stump next to the path I used the monopod to capture this image from a meaty distance. Continuing on I came across a few Red-winged Blackbirds and Black-capped Chickadees, but that was it. I decided to head back to the car and get home in time for dinner.

Oh, and by the way. Our mystery bird? A Common Redpoll! Were you right? Or did the lack of a visible red cap give you pause?

More rain tomorrow.


Cathy Carroll said...

Jerry, my guess was House Finch! Very clever post. I haven't read Blink, but Malcolm Gladwell is one of my favorite writers from his New Yorker essays Cathy

Anonymous said...

No yellow so it is not a Siskin--must be a Redpoll

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