Sunday, February 8, 2015

Finally, A Bit o' Thaw - 07 Feb 2015

With the next two days of temps above freezing we're finally seeing a bit of a thaw. Last week was tough with 14" of snow on Sunday and near-zero temps the rest of the week, so today is a welcome relief.

I arrived at Point Mouillee shortly before overcast-up and hiked through heavy snow from the Mouillee Creek parking lot. Within a quarter mile, though, the snow on the dikes thinned to just a few inches, so walking became much easier. Unfortunately, birds were hard to come by. I did see a flock of ~60 American Tree Sparrows, but it was still too dark to photograph them. The highlight, however, was seeing 6 Northern Harriers! Two of them were males, while the remainders were females/juveniles.

A lone Coyote in the distance rounded out the sightings.

I did not see any Snowy Owls as I scanned the Humphries and Vermet Units from the Middle Causeway. Audible greetings included Northern Cardinal, Horned Lark, and European Starling. A Red-shouldered Hawk was seen early in my walk flying to the south, and I later heard it's "Keer-Keer-Keer" scream near the Roberts Rd. entrance.

I returned to the car early enough that I decided to drive out to Willow Run Airport in Romulus. I would not see any Snow Buntings or Lapland Longspurs, but a small group of six Horned Larks were feeding on the side of the road. One bird remained long enough for a few pics from just a few feet away.

This American Kestrel was perched in the field across from the airport along the service drive, and I was able to get a few digiscoped images before it flew off for good (it had flown off but returned to its perch after a light-hearted swoop over the snow).

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