Sunday, April 21, 2013

Big (Wind) Mistake - 20 Apr 2013

The last thing you seen when a Horned Grebe dives
Imagine riding uphill, in 10th gear, with someone hitting you in the face w/ a bag of ice.  That was Pt. Mouillee SGA yesterday. The winds were so strong yesterday that I had to walk the bike from Cell 3 back to the Siegler Rd. parking lot.

But I knew it was going to be rough, but the skies were clear (a first for me in weeks), so I decided to go for it.  I parked at Siegler Rd. and headed out the North Causeway for Cell 5.  The Huron River was low, with mud exposed all along the north shoreline.  I managed several pairs of Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, and a large flock of Forster's and Caspian Terns, and Bonaparte's Gulls.  The wind was pushing me so I had very little peddling to deal with.

Whitecaps on the Long Pond and Vermet Unit were unusual, and only the American Coot seemed to ignore the wind.  But they scattered a 1/4 mile ahead of me anyway, so there were photos.  Lake Erie waterfowl included more coot, Ruddy Ducks, Bufflehead, and a male Common Goldeneye.

The NE corner of Cell 5 held six Horned Grebes that were swimming and diving close to shore.  I managed to get a few keeper photos, but none as good as Dr. Bob's photos earlier in the week. I tried to digiscope a half-dozen Lesser Scaup from behind a large CAT tractor, but it was no use.

The only 'flying' birds that were cooperative were groups of Double-crested Cormorants and fly-by Mute Swans.  Other (uncooperative) flying birds included: 3 Osprey, 1 Bald Eagle, and 2 Northern Harriers too far away.

As I rode out to Cell 3 I found a large flock of 160 Dunlin on exposed mudflats in Cell 4.  I took a few flight shots as flushed, flew, whirled, and settled back down to forage.  A pair of Bonaparte's Gulls and a Greater Yellowlegs were also among them.

It was nice to see about 3 dozen Great Egrets roosting on the island in the Humphries Unit.  They were hunkered down out of the wind, so I was unable to verify any potential Cattle Egrets.  Cell 3 itself had whitecaps, and with all of the construction equipment and mud it wasn't worth the hike out to the east shoreline dike.

The wind was blowing from the SW, so I could ride just to the Middle Causeway.  I almost had to peddle going down the large hill from the Banana.  Once at the bottom I could only ride a few feet before having to walk the bike and my camera gear.  I would walk all the way back to the car.  Notable sightings included a pair of Osprey on the tower in the Humphries Unit, and a pair of singing Marsh Wrens along the west dike of the Long Pond Unit. A pair of Lesser Scaup were swimming/fighting the waves close enough for a few momentary shots.

I was glad I did it, but I paid for it.  I can barely walk today...

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