Sunday, November 17, 2013

Good Raptors, Bad Lighting - 16 Nov 2013

"The forecast for today is clear skies giving way to some clouds by this evening. Currently cloudy." ???. Unfortunately the forecast was correct. It was cloudy. And dark. Scattered drizzle meant twilight conditions the entire morning. A bit of a shame, too, 'cause the raptor photo opps were pretty good this morning.

I made a swing through Elizabeth Park in Trenton, MI this morning and spotted a small falcon atop the dead tree next to the marina parking lot. At first I thought American Kestrel, but was pleasantly surprised to see that it was a Merlin!  I digiscoped a few pics from behind the car before walking to the edge of the fence so that I could at least get a bit in front of the bird silhouetted against the overcast/dark skies.

I had to open the Nikon V1 to +2.00 EV and use the self-timer on the camera to capture any images.  At 1/5 sec. there was no hand-holding images this morning.  Luckily the Merlin was quite content to rest there for several minutes and allow some nice portraits in the low-light skies.

I then drove down to Lake Erie Metropark and walked the Trapper's Run Trail behind the Marshland Museum.  Very quiet, except for the occasional Carolina Wren and several nice deer (including a 12-point buck).  I then headed across the road to walk the Cherry Island Trail down toward the Boat Launch and Detroit River Hawkwatch site.  As I turned onto the trail from the bike path a Great Horned Owl suddenly launched itself from the tree just to my right and flew across the water to the trees about 200' away.  I managed a short digiscoped video of it before it flew off again using the scope at full magnification (~6075 mm).  American Coot and Bufflehead numbers are starting to increase along the Lake Erie shoreline.

The hawkwatch crew (Don Sherwood, Andrew Sturgess) were not enjoying the lack of bird movement this morning.  No hawks.  Only a handful of Bonaparte's Gulls provided any interest while I was there, but lighting was too low to capture any sharp flight shots. As I walked the boardwalk trail back toward the Marshland Museum a flock of 150 Rusty Blackbirds flushed from a gray dogwood bush a short distance inside the marsh.

I drove over to Campau Rd. and Pt. Mouillee HQ but saw no birds.  I then drove over to Roberts Rd. to look for hawks, and managed to photograph a couple of Red-tailed Hawks from the car.

As I was leaving, an eagle flew overhead and headed toward the landfill.  Since I couldn't discount a possible Golden Eagle, I double-backed to Roberts Rd. and followed it to Rheaume Rd. where it hooked up with three other 1st-year Bald Eagles just inside the quarry property.

For the next ten minutes I watched and photographed the birds circle into view as they hovered only about 100' away from me.  Too bad the lighting wasn't a bit better - I got some wonderful looks at these majestic birds!

Robin and I would then drive down to Carleton to visit my sister (Jo) and photograph our Great-Nephew (Sam). Another Red-tailed Hawk was perched next to Labo Rd. near Grafton Rd., so we double-backed to photograph it.  Again, overcast skies foiled the opportunity for some nice shots, but the bird cooperated long enough to grab a few photos from the car before it flew off across the field.

1 comment:

Beverly Benson Wolf said...

Your images are beautiful, Jerry. The +2 exposure was perfect. We don't care about the bald skies, it's the details that are great. If you don't already, you should be submitting your images to birding magazines.

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