Friday, December 2, 2011

Sterling State Park - 30 Nov 2011

I took the afternoon off today and headed down to Monroe to look for better pics of the Pacific Loon.  The sun was shining, and it was relatively mild enough for some good digiscoping. 

Arriving just after 12:30 pm I cruised the east side of the lagoon where the bird was first found and noticed immediately the lack of birds on the water.  Luckily, a small raft of a dozen Red-breasted Mergansers were still near the south end, and the loon was among them.  I parked at the south end (near the foot bridge) and hiked down to the shoreline near the fishing dock.  The bird was several hundred feet out from shore, so I had to settle for long-distance images.

For the next half-hour or so the bird remained in its location, diving every few minutes after looking wildly about to make sure the coast was clear.  It was at this point that Jeremy Joswick arrived, and joined the party. We chatted and waited for the bird, but a female Red-breasted Merganser was our only consolation.

The next several hours were spent walking the west shoreline trying to get closer to the bird, which decided that the dead middle of the lake was the place to be.  Though we had nice looks at the bird all afternoon through our scopes our prospects for getting closeup images were dashed.

A single Horned Grebe was also present in the lagoon, but it too refused to cooperate w/ our cameras.  A fly-over Bald Eagle was a nice treat.

By about 2:30 pm the loon finally moved to north end of the lagoon, where it stayed among a raft of Red-breasted and Common Mergansers, and a pair of Common Goldeneye.  Though we kept walking south along the shoreline it managed to stay well out of range for digiscoping.

Dave Mendus stopped by and spent a few minutes with us before I decided to pack it in.  While we talked a pair of Great Egrets flew overhead and headed to the larger lagoon to the west. I headed north along Dixie Hwy. and decided to make a quick swing through Rheaume Rd.  Cruising slowly I spotted an adult Cooper's Hawk that was perched in the trees to my left.  It took flight just as I reached for the camera, but I managed to grab a series of frames before it disappeared into the trees.  Eye-level shots of an angry Cooper's Hawk is a good capture anyday...

After making a swing through Campau Rd. I headed for home. At the corner of Fort Street and Gibralter Rds I spotted a Red-tailed Hawk perched on an overhead wire.  It seemed to be oblivious to the traffic whipping by, so I pulled over to get a few pics from inside the car.  It paid me no attention, so I slowly got out of the car, grabbed the scope, crouched behind the car, and proceeded to get several digiscoped frames from about 60' away!  It wasn't until a large semi blasted by and spooked the bird and slammed me into the back end of the car w/ its wind blast...  I decided it was time to call it a day.

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