While rummaging through photos taken yesterday the title of this blog became apparent. Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but branches are a photographer's worst nightmare.
I drove out to Lake Erie Metropark late yesterday morning to look for a Hermit Thrush, and possibly an owl. I was happy to find a Hermit Thrush right at the entrance to the woods across from the Marshland Museum. I tried my best to get some pics of the bird through the branches, but it managed to keep several well-placed sticks between me and a great photograph.
It was snowing big fluffy flakes with no wind, so it was a nice walk. I brought the flash and Better Beamer along since lighting was going to be tough, and I was glad I did. The Hermit Thrush was gone, so I turned my attention on the American Robins that were foraging on the dried (Privet?) berries.
No owls later, I walked the trail next to the Boat Launch and came across a nice mixed flock of Winter Wren (2), Black-capped Chickadees (7), White-throated Sparrows (5), and Golden-crowned Kinglets (2). The kinglet was most uncooperative, while the Winter Wren failed to respond to a poor attempt at 'pishing'. The chickadees were very cooperative, however, and provided some nice pics from just a few feet away. Again, a branch here and branch there made things distracting. Luckily one chickadee finally gave me a clean subject. Check out the white edging on the flight feathers - they are lacking on the near-identical Carolina Chickadees.
A pair of Swamp Sparrows was a nice treat, but were constantly moving through the phragmites along the boardwalk, and provided only a momentary glimpse.
While heading back to the museum a Fox Sparrow made a brief appearance in the shadows, but never fully-revealed itself. I tracked it along the boardwalk for a few minutes until it flew back into the woods next to the boat launch parking lot.
I stopped in to the office at the Marshland Museum and chatted a bit with Paul Cypher and Kevin Arnold. The new Michigan Sea Grant poster "Dabblers & Divers, Great Lakes Waterfowl" was recently issued. It features photos taken of diving and dabbling ducks local to the area by a photographer with the same name as mine! Thanks, Todd Marsee and MSG for using my photos - what a treat. I gave one to my mom and made her put it on the refrigerator - that's the refrigerator behind the poster. :)
With snow falling heavily now, I drove over to Campau Rd. and the Point Mouillee HQ parking lot to look for ducks on the Huron River. The rivermouth was completely frozen, so no birds were about. There was a nice mix of songbirds at the gate, including a dozen Northern Cardinals, a pair of Song Sparrows, several American Tree Sparrows, a Red-winged Blackbird, Downy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker (a 5-second appearance) and a single, skulking Swamp Sparrow.
While waiting for the Swampy to appear I took advantage of the nice portraits provided by the chickadees and the cardinals. I think the female Northern Cardinal is perhaps the loveliest of the winter birds in Michigan. With the hawthorn needles looking ominous the description of 'beauty and the beast' came to mind.
The Swamp Sparrow finally appeared, but liked to stay between several trees and my lens. So branches weren't a problem as much as tree stumps were...
Two dozen Tree Sparrows were the only other birds sighted along Reaume Rd. A drive down Haagerman Rd. yielded no Horned Larks or Lapland Longspurs. So I headed home to warm up.