Thursday, May 10, 2012

So Many Great Moments @ BWIB - 08 May 2012

Today was a day filled with many, many special moments!  Most of them, surprisingly, did not involve the birds, but the people who make the birds and birding so special.

I had the day off, so I headed to Magee Marsh and the Biggest Week in American Birding.  I arrived at the parking lot shortly after 7 am and decided to park at the east end of the boardwalk.  There, I ran into a couple of older gentleman (names unknown) and had a very pleasant discussion regarding cameras and photography (I was able to offer a couple of suggestions for budget bird photography).  I then walked onto the boardwalk and immediately ran into Jeff and Dawn Simmons Fine, and Gunnar Engblom, director of Kolibri Expeditions and author of  It had rained the night before, and the boardwalk was as slick as wet ice, so footing was very delicate. 

Warbling Vireo
Overcast skies made birding a bit difficult, but we were able to pick out Baltimore Orioles, Nashville Warblers, Least Flycatchers, Yellow Warblers, and Warbling Vireos.  Magnolia Warblers and the first of many Tennessee Warblers made brief appearances, as well.  The birds were high, so only record photos were obtained.  They had to take off for a photography seminar, so I continued on to look for something to photograph.

Near the south side of the boardwalk a pair of Black-capped Chickadees were courting, with a male presenting food to a quivering female.  I managed a couple of pics before they flew off.  A Blackpoll Warbler was calling in the distance, but failed to come close enough for any pics. 

The Prothonotary Warbler made a brief appearance, as did a Blue-headed Vireo.  A Brown Thrasher was foraging in the leaves near a large log, while both Veery and Swainson's Thrushes flew by the boardwalk. 

To my absolute delight I ran into the Nemesis Bird team of Alex Lamoreaux, Anna Fasoli, Andrew Weber and Justine Weber.  They had planned to be at Oak Openings today, so I'd been bummed that I was going to miss them.  If you're unfamiliar with them check out their blog site.  These are the birding stars and ornithologists of tomorrow!

I then ran into the great Charles Owen, and we walked the boardwalk toward the west end.  A Lincoln's Sparrow appeared briefly, and I heard a Kentucky WarblerYellow-bellied Flycatcher was seen earlier near marker #4, and was still there when we arrived.  Canada Warbler appeared, but refused to approach close enough for photos.  A Golden-winged Warbler was reported nearby, so we joined a large crowd looking for it, but it was a no-show.  Others would find a Golden-winged on the dike west of the parking lot on the lake, so at least two birds were in the area.  Several Woodcock were near the boardwalk, and a number of folks were looking for them.

The tower area was hosting a singing Prothonotary Warbler that provided great looks and photos to many folks, while a Northern Parula was singing near the top of the tower.  I saw local photography experts Rodney Laura and Andrew Sturgess, and got to talk with them for a few minutes. 

I decided to walk back to the car to grab my scope, as the sun was finally starting to poke out from the clouds.  It was also a good time to lose the rain jacket.  I walked the parking lot and looked for several Yellow Warblers, Chestnut-sided Warblers, and Tennesee Warblers that were singing from the cypress trees. I ran into Terri and Joe Janssen and chatted w/ them for a few minutes, then saw John Lowrey. It was only 10:30 am so I decided to walk out onto the lakeshore at the west end of the parking lot.  Along the way a beautiful Chestnut-sided Warbler appeared in the low branches, and allowed me to capture some nice closeup images.  Thank you, little beauty!

I spotted Iain Campbell, co-owner of Tropical Birding Tours and said a quick hello.  I then spotted Jeff Gordon, President of the American Birding Association.  I took the opportunity to introduce myself and we had a nice talk.  I took the opportunity to congratulate and thank him for the terrific job that he's doing w/ the ABA.  I'd wanted to get his picture, but was surprised when he asked to take mine, so we walked over to the boardwalk to get my picture taken for a possible spot in one of his future blogs.

I failed to find the Golden-winged Warbler along the lakeshore, but did hear a Black-billed Cuckoo on the way back.  I saw Charles again, and he offered to drive me back to the car, but I declined, wanting to check the parking lot again before I headed off to meet the Birding Ohio group at Porkey's just down the road from the Black Swamp Observatory.

I'm glad I declined the ride (no offense, Charles).  I stepped onto the boardwalk just long enough to get some nice (but distant) looks at a Blackburnian Warbler and female Summer Tanager.  As I was heading back to the car I spotted a flock of at least 4 Scarlet Tanagers foraging in the trees next to the parking lot.  All males!  A number of people were already looking/photographing them, so I headed over to try my luck.

One particular bird was quiet accomodating, flying low enough to get pics w/ the Nikon D300s and 300/2.8 VRII. 

It then perched on a low branch in full sunlight and stayed long enough for some digiscoped images from about 60'!  Gorgeous bird!

It was now noon, and I wanted to head to Porky's Pizza Trof, but first I had to stop by the Black Swamp Observatory to say 'hi' to fellow digiscoping guru Kevin Bolton, aka, the Jersey Digiscoper.  We didn't have time to chat too long, so I stuck around and said hello to Stephen Ingraham, optics expert for Carl Zeiss and another fellow digiscoper.

I arrived at Porky's and found the place just hopping w/ fellow friends and birders from Ohio, Michigan and parts beyond.  I got to say hi to folks like Jeff Schultz, Sherri Duris, Charles Owens, Katie Andersen, Bob and Judy Setzer, Liz McQuaid (my tour buddy from Saturday's Oak Opening outing), and others.  I sat with Jeff, Dawn, Gunnar and Linda Rockwell.  Kimberly Kaufman arrived, and I finally got to meet her in person (I even got a hug...:).  Kenn Kaufman was also there, and I got to have my picture taken with him and the great "Dr. Bob" Setzer, himself.

Jeff and Dawn Simmons Fine

Gunnar Engblom
This is a You-tube video of the song Gunnar sang: Priceless!

Judy and 'Dr. Bob' Setzer
This was going to be my last post for the Biggest Week, so it was an absolutely priceless day, and I couldn't have spent it with a nicer bunch of folks.  And the best part? I got to go home to my Robin!
Thank you, Ohio!

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