Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sparrows! - 12 Oct 2014

Clear skies and 34F provided a promise of some nice birds this morning at Crosswinds Marsh in w. Wayne Co., MI. I decided to take the bike so that I could cover more ground. From the parking lot I headed north along the horse trail toward the power lines near Arkona Rd. American Robins and Blue Jays were moving through the trees in huge numbers.

Just beyond the woods I met the first wave of fall sparrows: Song, White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows. A dozen birds were moving through the brush with sounds of "tweet" and "Zer-zee-zee-zwiii". Light was still low, so digiscoping was not going to work. So I mounted the Nikon 1 V3 to my 300/2.8 VRII using the FT1 adapter (EFL=1377mm). With this rig I stood a much better chance at getting faster shutter speeds.

A Rufous-sided Towhee flew across the path up ahead and sang from the brush. A Hermit Thrush made a brief appearance, as well. Song and Swamp Sparrows bounced from tree to tree as I headed along the edge of the marsh.

I spent some time under the power lines, but had no birds nearby. Overhead Turkey Vultures were migrating south, so dozens passed slowly overhead and provided a chance for some flight shots using the Jobu Jr. 3 on the tripod. A Red-tailed Hawk also flew in overhead but landed on a distant snag for a few moments.

Another flock of White-throats, White-crowns and Song Sparrows appeared up ahead, and provided some nice pics from about 30' away. It was nice to be close enough to one White-crowned Sparrow to see the bright white orbital ring that covers only the bottom half of the eye! The top half is more buff-colored.

As I rode through the woods toward Bell Rd. I spotted the first-of-the season Dark-eyed Junco! Another flock of sparrows appeared along the west side of the marsh, and I spent some photographing more birds. Among them were several Ruby-crowned Kinglets and a single Nashville Warbler. Overhead a Broad-winged Hawk circled momentarily.

Along the south side of the marsh a flock of 15 Sandhill Cranes flew in and landed somewhere inside the marsh. As winds picked up I enjoyed distant views of several kettles of Turkey Vultures and Ring-billed Gulls over the landfill before heading back to the car.

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