As I walked down Roberts Rd. this morning I did my best/worst Screech Owl imitation with the hopes of drawing in a bird or two. It was 6:30 am and the sun was still an hour or so away from rising. A full moon hang in the partly-cloudy skies, still fresh from yesterdays solstice and lunar eclipse. Far off in the distance a very faint whinny responded, followed by a flash of dark wingbeats overhead.
I finally spotted a tiny, dark shadow in the emerging daylight, an Eastern Screech Owl. Putting the flashlight between my knees I attempted to shine it on the owl so that I could get a photo using an SB-800 and Better Beamer on the Nikon D300. A couple of frames later I had a keeper!
The owl flew back and forth across the road, each time passing a bit closer to me, but always landing in an area heavy with grape vines and obscuring vegetation. This most recent pass, however, landed the owl directly in front of the full moon, so I tried to frame it with the moon in the background. Unfortunately the resulting frames were reduced to large glare spots from OOF vines and branches. Luckily, a heavy amount of cloning and a dry-brush filter in Photoshop helped salvage an image and produce (I think) a rather nice memory!
I then headed south along US Turnpike Rd. to Monroe and the J.R. Whiting Plant to look for the American White Pelican. Scott Jennex and Roseann Kovalcik were already there, and Mark Wloch had just joined them. The pelican was sleeping on the ice near a pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls about 100 yds. out. Both Scott and Roseann had refound the Orange-crowned Warbler and were on their way to respective places of employment. Mark and I chatted a bit before he left for home.
I plopped myself behind a tree and scoped the pelican and gulls for a bit before heading back north toward Pt. Mouillee.
A trip down Rheaume Rd. yielded no birds. However, I ran into Pat Gamburd, who had just seen a couple of Red-tailed Hawks and a Peregrine Falcon fly over Roberts Rd. We both drove over to Campau Rd. where I spotted a Sharp-shinned Hawk that flew off just moments after I attempted to grab the scope.
The Huron River continued to be frozen, so there were no birds about. As I headed back out a stop near the fence-line brought in a flock of Black-capped Chickadees, Northern Cardinals, White-throated Sparrows, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, and a Swamp Sparrow. The Chickadees were literally hovering near my open window looking for a handout, so when Pat called to report a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the evergreens near the boat dock, I urged her to come w/ bird seed! I took a few photos before heading toward Cove Point.
The marina at the foot of Lee Rd. was active with a small flock of Song Sparrows and Swamp Sparrows feeding near the bike path. Out on the lake an impressive raft of Canvasback floated several hundred yds. from shore, and extended for a 1/2 mile or better. I took about 12 frames with the 400mm/f5.6 Sigma and stiched them together using Photoshop's PhotoMerge utility to produce this image:
I spent a few minutes digiscoping a few of the Tundra Swans that were swimming near the raft of Canvasbacks before heading home.