Monday, May 26, 2014

Kirtland's Warbler Tour, Mio - 24 May 2014

I woke at 2:15 am and drove up to Hartwick Pines State Park for a 7 am Kirtland's Warbler Tour sponsored by Michigan Audubon Society.  Alison Világ, who is working as a tour guide here this summer, greeted about 12 of us and led the tour to an area where the birds were displaying and on territory.

While waiting for the rest of the folks to arrive several of us enjoyed the flock of Evening Grosbeaks feeding just on the other side of the Visitor Center windows.  I was happy to get a single photo of a bird as it was 6:45 am, the birds were feeding in the shadows, and I was shooting through glass (1/6 sec at ISO 400 w/ EFL=510mm).  I had tried to photograph a Ruby-throated Hummingbird drinking at the fountain at the base of the feeding station, but all I could manage was 'blurry' shot (1 sec exposure).  So converted that into a watercolor image for posterity.

We arrived at the Kirtland's Warbler territory and immediately heard several birds calling from nearby 5-6 ft tall Jack Pines.  Unfortunately for us it was relatively cool outside, and the males were less than cooperative.  They tended to sing from branches obscured by trees and other branches, so the best we could do was 1-2 second sightings - certainly no chance to get the scope on them long enough to even view let alone digiscope.  But it was nice seeing the birds we did see and also listening / seeing Clay-colored, Vesper and Lincoln's Sparrows, Rufous-sided Towhees, Brown Thrashers and Nashville Warblers.

My best chance for seeing a Kirtland's Warbler was while returning to the car. This male perched atop a dead snag for several moments then flew into a deciduous tree long enough to get the scope on it.  Shooting into the sun from 300' away was not the best of conditions, but I was happy enough to get a record shot.

Thank you Michigan Audubon and Alison for a nice tour!  Its good to hear that the birds are recovering nicely.

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