Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Karma? - 18 Apr 2009

I arrived at the Mouillee Creek entrance to Pt. Mouillee SGA early Saturday morning. Pulling into the parking lot there I couldn't help notice how much litter was strewn about. Damn sickening how little respect we Americans have for natural areas.

Since I only had a few plastic shopping bags in the car I decided to do a bit of a cleanup before heading in. I walked around the parking lot and picked up the flotsam and carefully packed it into the trunk of the Escape. With no more bags to pick up garbage with I had to leave the stuff littering the woods next to parking lot.

Three hours later, when I returned to the parking I immediately became aware of piles of carpeting that were neatly stacked near my car. They weren't there when I arrived earlier, and I quickly suspected that someone had dumped them while I was gone. As I stowed the bike I decided to see about picking that up. That's when I noticed that all of the litter that was in the woods next to the lot was gone! Turns out that someone had done a cleanup while I was riding the dikes. The carpeting had been pulled out of the thickets and neatly stacked for pickup, and a garbage can was left for folks to deposit their waste. Wow, a tiny bit of faith in humankind restored. It made me wonder if my tiny bit of effort inspired a bit of Karmic reward. Thank you, whoever you are, for cleaning up this area!

It was absolutely gorgeous Saturday morning. Forecasts called for clear skies and mid 70's. No wind. As I entered the Middle Causeway I was greeted by singing Song Sparrows and Swamp Sparrows. As I rode past at least 4 singing Swamp Sparrows I spotted an immature Bald Eagle flying low over Mouillee Creek. It passed me just on the other side of the phragmites and flew low over the water. I was ready with the camera, but the bird never rose above the phragmites before disappearing southward.

Out in the Walpatich Unit Ruddy Ducks swam among Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, American Coot and Wood Ducks. A Sora was calling from somewhere out in the cattails, and efforts to attract it with the iBirdPod failed. Great Egrets were feeding as well as fly-by Tree Swallows.

The Lautenschager Unit hosted 2 dozen Blue-winged Teal and 8 Green-winged Teal. Three birds swimming in the canal next to the Bloody Run Unit and allowed a few digiscoped images to be taken from about 50 yds. One bird in the large pond was nicely illuminated by the early morning sunrise. A flyover Lesser Yellowlegs was the only shorebird around before I spotted a movement in the nearby corn field.

A Pectoral Sandpiper was feeding in a puddle in the cornfield, and was accompanied by several more BW Teal. As I approached the birds flushed and flew past me, allowing for quick photos w/ the D300. One bird remained in the water and was close enough for a photo w/ the D300. Eventually it, and several more birds, flew off toward the Nelson Unit. The GW Teal were a bit more shy and only allowed long distance shots as they flew off toward the Vermet Unit.

Hundreds, if not a thousand, American Coot were in the Lead Unit. Gadwall, Bufflehead, and Lesser Scaup were also present. Another 8 GW Teal were in the Long Pond Unit. A Marsh Wren was singing from the phragmites at the junction with the Vermet Unit. More teal were in the Vermet, but the bright sun obscured any details. I could only see silhouettes of Pied-billed Grebes, Caspian Terns, Canada Geese, Northern Shovelers, Great Egrets, and Killdeer.

I stopped only briefly along the Middle Causeway to scan the hundreds of Red-winged Blackbirds for any errant Yellow-headed Blackbirds, but saw or heard none. I did hear an Eastern Meadowlark nearby, and grabbed a quick photo of a posing Eastern Phoebe.

In the SW corner of Cell 4 I found a Song Sparrow bouncing from rock to rock. Leaving the bike I walked toward Cell 3 where I could see dozens of Caspian Terns, Bonaparte's Gulls, and Forster's Terns. A flock of 27 Dunlin in basic plumage fed at the edge of the mudflats, and
flushed when several Caspian Terns flew in. As they banked in unison and flew as a single entity I managed to grab several frames when they passed my way. I then turned my attention (and camera) to a passing Caspian Tern.

Returning to the bike I refound the Song Sparrow now perched in tree next to the dike. The bird stayed long enough for some nice digiscoped images from about 30 feet away. Heading north toward the Vermet Unit and Cell 5 I stopped briefly to admire a displaying RW Blackbird. Cell 5 held only a few pair of Greater Scaup, Double-crested Cormorants, and Bufflehead. The cottonwoods north of Cell 5 held noisy RW Blackbirds, Common Grackles, and Tree Swallows. I was hoping to find some fresh migrant passerines, but had to settle for a small flock of Dark-eyed Juncos. I managed a few pics of one bird as it perched on bare branches.

Yet more coots crowded the east end of the Vermet Unit. A few Gadwall and American Wigeon were present but scattered the moment they spotted me a mile away. One pair of Wigeon swam slow enough to allow a distant photo.

As I returned west along the North Causeway I found a group of Caspian Terns huddling on a small mud flat near the NW corner of the Long Pond Unit. I spent a few minutes digiscoping them before riding south along the edge of the Long Pond Unit. As I headed back to the Walpatich Unit a flyover Turkey Vulture floated low enough for a few more pics.

And, just before reaching the parking lot at Mouillee Creek I decided to try the iBirdPod on a Swamp Sparrow that was hiding somewhere across the channel. It only took a single play of the song to bring the bird out of hiding and onto the near bank, where it flitted from tree to stump trying to decide if I was a worthy mate, or an unworthy intruder. I grabbed a dozen or so frames before he flew back to his perch to continue singing. I continued back to the parking lot to find Karma at work.


Cathy Carroll said...

Great post, Jerry. It's great when we have experiences like the one you share. I, too, pick up trash on occasion. On Sunday, I went to Belle Isle with friends and we observed the same massive littering and find it so difficult to understand.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful Saturday! I'm glad you pick up other people's trash. I do the same. If more of us do that it will counterbalance the negative effects of littering.

I enjoy your photos tremendously and appreciate your birding knowledge. Thank you for sharing with me.


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