Sunday, April 14, 2013

Prelude to the Biggest Week - 14 Apr 2013

It was cool, cloudy and cold this morning on the Magee Marsh Boardwalk.  With all of the rains we had to endure this past week many were surprised to see so few birders on the boardwalk.  The Biggest Week in American Birding festival is still two weeks away, but the birds are here, and migrants are moving.  See Kenn Kaufman's predictions for the upcoming week.

The marshland surrounding the boardwalk was alive with American Coot, Northern Shovelers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Blue-winged Teal, Hooded Mergansers, Gadwall, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, and American Tree Swallows.  I heard one Swamp Sparrow on the drive in.  Ducks were moving on Lake Erie, but I didn't go over to check out the assortment.

Hermit Thrushes are in full-bloom everywhere (the one at top was on the rail at the west entrance)! Ruby-crowned Kinglets have arrived, and one fella was working the ground and thickets close enough to the boardwalk for a pic or two.  I was using a Better Beamer on the SB800 Flash unit attached to a Nikon D7100, otherwise lighting was horrible for bird photos.

Some of the birds heard or seen at great distances included: Common Grackles (everywhere), Golden-crowned Kinglets, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Wood Ducks, Sora (sorry, that was a European Starling doing a great impression - unless Sora are found in tree-tops), Rufous-sided Towhees, Yellow-rumped Warblers (too far to photograph, but singing already), Carolina and Winter Wren, and Fox Sparrows. Lots of Fox Sparrows...

The birds were generally camera-shy this morning.  At one stretch I had Winter Wrens, Eastern Phoebes, Hermit Thrushes and Rufous-sided Towhees appearing on the boardwalk ahead of me, but not staying long enough to even raise the camera.

I finally stumbled upon this Brown Creeper that gave wonderful looks from just a few feet away.  I was so close that the 300/2.8 VRII was acting more like a macro lens w/ very shallow depth-of-field.  I got lots of razor-sharp images of bird-butt... This is a stunning bird!

This is one instance where I was wishing that I had time to turn off the flash.  This Fox Sparrow appeared momentarily and looked gorgeous in the low light of the swamp.  I knew even before pressing the shutter that I was gonna wish the flash didn't fire. The natural lighting was terrific...

It was nice to see a Bald Eagle nest over the parking lot at the boardwalk area.  Hopefully the crowds in the upcoming weeks won't be a distraction.  Gonna be fun!

Human sightings included Kenn Kaufman, Sherrie Duris, and Paul Cypher.  Sherrie would later find a Louisiana Waterthrush at post #23.

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