Monday, January 16, 2012

Slow Day - 15 Jan 2012

Not birding.  Me.  I was a bit slow w/ the camera today.  Consistently.

The afternoon started well.  Robin and I took a drive through Wyandotte on our way to Pt. Mouillee.  At the south end of the city I spotted the (resident?) Northern Mockingbird fly across Biddle Ave. and land atop the fence to our right.  It perched nice a pretty for a few photos, but I made the mistake of trying to photograph it through the passenger side window.  Heat from the car produced a shimmer that prevented the camera from focusing on the bird.  When I got out of the car the bird flew away...

We stopped at Pt. Mouillee HQ at the foot of Campau Rd on our next stop.  A juvenile Bald Eagle was perched atop a dead snag and presented a nice digiscoping opportunity.  I slowed the car behind the pine trees and tried to grab the scope, but the eagle flew just as I was setting it up behind the car.  I managed a couple of fly-away pics as it slowly drifted off toward the lake.

The mouth of Huron River was mostly frozen, but the small amounts of open water held large rafts of American Coot, and singles of Common Goldeneye, Common and Red-breasted Mergansers, Bufflehead, Redhead, and a few Canvasback.  Dozens of Tundra Swans were stretched along the edge of the ice that extended out into Lake Erie, as well as hundreds of Ring-billed and Herring Gulls.  As I scanned the the mostly-Herring Gull flock I managed to count 22 Great Black-backed Gulls.

As we left the headquarters I stopped by the fence to check out the Black-capped Chickadees, Northern Cardinals, American Tree Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, and House Sparrows.  I was hoping to get a few pics of the birds coming to the seed-piles left by the fence, but a pair of beautiful Black Laborador Retrievers killed that opportunity.  They appeared from the woods and were happily chasing anything that moved.  I couldn't be mad, they were too adorable!

We drove across the street to Riverside Park and scanned the river.  A flock of 6 Bonaparte's Gulls were foraging in the open water, while another 40 or so birds were flying in the large pond across the road.  A Belted Kingfisher was perched in the tree across the street, but of course, I was too slow w/ the camera.  We did see a pretty little black cat run across the road and attempt to back itself into the sewer pipes that were lining the road, but I could only manage a quick pic from inside the car.

A side trip down Roberts Rd. proved fruitless.  We didn't see anything.  An American Kestrel was perched out in a field but too far away to photograph.

We then headed down to Haagerman Rd. where I spotted a Northern Harrier (female) working the field to the north.  It drifted toward us, but banked at the last moment, and I was too slow to get sharp images at its closest point.  Still, it was a nice sighting, and more opportunities will present themselves w/ these birds.

Another Kestrel was perched along the fence surrounding the antennae farm, and I was able to get a pic or two of it 'not perched anymore'.

Deciding to head for home, I took a quick turn back down Reaume Rd. where we saw the harrier floating gracefully along the top of the Gibraltar Landfill.  In the bright afternoon sunshine it was neat to see its shadow bouncing off the snow-covered hillside. I sped up though, because it was flying toward us, and I was hoping for an opportunity to get an overhead shot as it cleared the tree.  Unfortunately, I was not fast enough, and the harrier passed directly overhead before I could stop the car. I tried sticking the camera out of the window and getting 'blind' shots of the bird, but missed horribly.  Seeing another American Kestrel perched atop a tree ahead didn't help as well, as it flew off before I could stop the car, and another set of 'blind' photos completely missed their target.  I took this queue to call it a day.

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