Saturday, April 6, 2013

Shorebirds have Arrived! - 06 Apr 2013

Armed w/ the new Nikon D7100 I headed to Pt. Mouillee this morning to test it out.  Temps were in the 20's and a stiff wind was blowing from the east.  Too bad for me, I was heading in that direction...

I parked at Mouillee Creek and headed up the Middle Causeway just a little after 7 am.  Wanting to see what progress had been made in the Lautenschlager Unit I took the (new) dike trail to the north just inside the Middle Causeway entrance.  The ground was soft, and the wind was blowing sufficiently hard that I decided to walk the bike. A few Red-winged Blackbirds and Song Sparrows were flitting about, but that was it.  A few patches of flooded field were around but there appeared to be no new 'wetland'.

I heard a bugling Sandhill Crane and saw it lift off just as I reached the pond in the Lautenschlager Unit.  Though it was still somewhat dark I managed a few photos w/ the new camera as it circled around the area and headed back to the north.  The Auto ISO function worked well - I was shooting 1/400sec at ISO 1000.  A short distance later a Wilson's Snipe flew past me just close enough for an ID.

Heading back to the Middle Causeway I encountered large flocks of ducks: Redhead, Ring-necked, Lesser and Greater Scaup, Northern Shoveler and Green-winged Teal.  The birds were flying, but too far away to photograph.  Nearby more Red-winged Blackbirds and Song Sparrows were flying, so I turned the camera their way.  American Coot were swimming and flying in the Humphries Unit while a Northern Harrier was floating over the Bloody Run Unit.Part of the recent work in the area has included regrading the road, but also removal of the phragmites along causeway - the ditches are clean and a clear view of the L-Unit is now possible.

I headed out to Cell 3 and found white-caps on Lake Erie and a stiff wind blowing inshore.  As I walked to the NE corner I noticed big earth movers and dredgings being dumped in the NE corner where the large phragmites patch was found.  A large flock of Redhead and Greater Scaup were in Cell 4 - I managed a couple of shots of the Redhead and Common Goldeneye that were flying away. 

As I walked along the east dike my eyes were drawn to a large flock of 100+ Green-winged Teal along the east shoreline of Cell 3.  Putting the scope on them revealed a half-dozen Greater Yellowlegs.  Scanning the birds revealed more yellowlegs, and a flock of about 2-dozen Pectoral Sandpipers.  A bit farther toward the shore another flock of about 2-dozen Dunlin.  I tried to move closer but the flock took off and whirled around the cell before settling down toward the middle of the cell. Digiscoping was impossible in the winds, so I hiked down into the cell to move closer, and managed to get a few digiscoped images of the shorebirds as they foraged about 100' away.  Several of the Lesser Yellowlegs were in full-breeding plumage, while more of the Greater Yellowlegs were seen in mid-molt.  The shorebirds didn't stay long, and took off for the middle of the cell.  Returning to the bike I encountered singing American Tree Sparrow flocks in the NE corner.

With the high winds it was easy to get a few flight shots of the Ring-billed and Herring Gulls that were floating along the shoreline.  Out in the lake were a few Common Mergansers, but no loons or Horned Grebes.

As I returned to the Middle Causeway I ran into Todd Palgut and chatted w/ him awhile.  I then ran into Andrew Sturgess and chatted w/ him for a few minutes before heading back to the car.  I managed a couple flight shots of some passing Ring-necked Ducks before getting back to the car - too bad lighting wasn't better.

Given the lousy wind and cloudy skies the Nikon D7100 did a terrific job w/ birds in flight.  Focus was sharp, and the Auto-ISO function helped capture birds under very poor conditions.

1 comment:

Debbie Miller @HooootOwl said...

Wonderful flight images! You are going to love your new 7D!

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