With only slight deference to the incomparable Julie Craves, sometimes good birders DO wear white. Or lucky ones...
I've been having visibility issues this winter with my all-black birding attire: black jacket, gloves, hat, tripod and (Nikon) camera equipment. Whenever I've approached the railing along the Detroit River here in Wyandotte's John Dingell Park, the ducks waste no time high-tailing it out of the vicinity. So, today I asked my dear friend Patricia Rydzewski if our colleagues in Chemical Engineering had any white Tyvek® Suits laying around. She was able to find me a pair.
With the sun shining and temperatures in the teens it actually felt fairly comfortable this afternoon as I arrived at the park after work. I pulled on the white coveralls and wondered if looking like a snowman might help my approachability index. As I approached the rail a pair of Canvasback that were swimming next to shore saw me, but did not flee for their lives! I stood in the corner at the south end of the park and actually felt that the ducks in the vicinity were (for the most part) ignoring me. That's when I saw one of the four Horned Grebes that were reported on Saturday by Patricia herself.
The small grebe was diving near shore just a few feet away and completely oblivious to my presence. I had the scope w/ me, and decided I'd rather digiscope the bird than photograph it w/ the D7100 and 300/2.8 VRII combo. It stayed long enough for me do both!
The added bonus was seeing one of the White-winged Scoters that had been frequenting the river near Mud Island. It too was drifting close enough to shore to see me, and although it appeared wary, did not swim away.
I spent the next 40 minutes digicoping both the grebe and the scoter, and getting ridiculously close looks (and photos). I could make out the blue eyes of the scoter next to its white tear-drop eye crescent. Only after the scoter drifted off far enough near Mud Island did I decide to head home (782 digiscoped images later).
Of note: a half-dozen more Red-breasted Mergansers appeared in the river today, joining the single bird I noticed yesterday at noon. The Greylag Goose continues to follow the Canada Geese gaggle that is spending time on shore and in the water. Bald Eagles are thinning a bit as the river opens, but today there were a dozen on the south side of Mud Island enjoying the afternoon sunlight.