Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Finally, Some Odes! - 28 Jun 2014

My purpose for heading to Pt. Mouillee this morning was two-fold: to look for a pair of Little Gulls that have been reported this week, and to field-test the new Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 III camera for digiscoping. To end any suspense, neither venture faired well.  However, it was still a very good outing!

I parked at Mouillee Creek and headed east along the Middle Causeway and alongside Mouillee Creek.  It was going to be a hot and humid day, and at 7:30 am it was already sticky.  A Bald Eagle (juvenile) was perched in a tree near the pump house, while a Willow Flycatcher gave some nice looks from 50' away.  Though I would miss digiscoping the bird, I had a couple of opportunities w/ nearby Song Sparrows, but failed miserably to get a decent shot in the early morning hours.  I'll save the field-test summary for my Digiscoping Blog, only to say that the 20-75X Zoom eyepiece and Sony RX100 III did not play well together. I did get a few nice keepers, but overall my keeper rate was my worst in many years of digiscoping.

A ride along the east side of the Lautenschlager Unit produced some nice views of Redhead males and females, as well as Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal.  I rode around to the NW side with the idea of looking for the Black-necked Stilt that was seen several weeks ago, but the area only produced a few Warbling Vireos and another Willow Flycatcher.

Marsh Wrens were singing in the Bloody Run Unit as I headed north toward the North Causeway, but that was about all.  I then headed back toward the Middle Causeway between Vermet and Long Pond Units, and finally had another chance at digiscoping some birds.  A pair of American Goldfinch posed for me 30' away, but were backlit enough to make imaging difficult.  They were followed by a juvenile Northern Rough-winged Swallow and a Pied-billed Grebe.  I only managed a few pics of each.

I then ran into Frank and Cheryl Treece at the Middle Causeway, and had a nice visit with them.  They had just come from Cell 3 where they had missed seeing the American White Pelicans. I headed that way, passing ~100 Great Egrets in the NE corner of the Humphries Unit along the way. When I arrived at Cell 3 I could see the pelicans in the SW corner, but turned my attention to the Bonaparte's Gulls, Caspian, Forster's and Common Terns in the NW corner.

As I scanned the gull flock looking the Little Gulls, I spotted a Pectoral Sandpiper, then found a Wilson's Phalarope next to shore.  I was able to get a few digiscoped images from 100' before the bird flew off toward the south end of the cell.

I hiked out onto the mudflat, keeping among the Lady's Thumbprint patches until the sun was behind me and I was able to scope the gulls/terns from a better location.  I would dip on the Little Gulls, but would have a chance to get a few pics of the Bonaparte's Gulls, mostly 2nd cycle non-breeding birds.

As I walked toward the SW corner of Cell 3 I paused long enough to photograph and digiscope an Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly, the first 'Ode' my camera captured this year.  I ran into Tom and Mary Forston, who were scoping an American Avocet and Black-bellied Plover in the SW corner.

I continued on around to the S side of the cell where I was able to get some digiscoped images of the avocet before it headed back toward the far shoreline. I then took a few long-distance shots of the Black-bellied Plover for record.

I counted 12 American White Pelicans roosting on the muddy peninsula in the corner among a couple hundred Bonaparte's Gulls, and more Caspian, Forster's and Common Terns.  A pair of Semipalmated Sandpipers were the only peeps among the two dozen Killdeer that were foraging along the water's edge. Eastern Kingbirds were active in the corner, and closer than the Indigo Buntings in the NW corner of Cell 2.

I then returned to the west dike and spent some time photographing fly-by Common and Forster's Terns, and scoping the Black Terns that were out on the mudflats.  I was able to count 6 adult Black Terns and 6 juveniles!

From there I walked around to the NE corner of Cell 3, pausing long enough to chase a pair of Indigo Buntings, a Bobolink, and several Brown-headed Cowbirds.  As I walked the east dike I spotted several pairs of Gadwall and American Wigeon, Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal.  They all flushed, so I turned my attention to some of the dragonflies and damselflies that were swarming among the shrubbery.  Bluets, pondhawks, and forktails were everywhere!

As I was heading back toward the Middle Causeway I stopped and chatted a bit w/ Pat Jakel, then headed back to the car.  I then drove over to Haggerman Rd. to look for the Dickcissels near the antennae farm.  I would find two pair of birds along the fence line, and get more horrible digiscoped images. I would have better luck digiscoping nearby Savannah Sparrows and Halloween Pennants that were perching in better light.

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