Sunday, June 7, 2015

Windy June Birding - 06 Jun 2015

A storm front moved through the area last evening so winds were blowing as the skies began to clear this morning. It made for a nice sunrise over Pt. Mouillee SGA as I rode the Middle Causeway from the Mouillee Creek parking lot.

A Willow Flycatcher was perched on a dead snag just inside the gate, but directly backlit by the rising sun. I could not sneak past it without it flying away. But, another Willow Flycatcher was in the trees next to the pump house and provided some nice digiscoped images from 50' away. It's "Fitzbew" call helped identify the bird from other Empidonax spp.

A pair of Warbling Vireos popped out into the open for just seconds, but long enough to get the camera on one bird before it flew off.

I decided to ride north along the east dike of the Laughtenschlager Unit to see if any Plegadis ibis, Tricolored Herons, or Black-necked Stilts might be around. I found none, but was delighted to see a pair of bugling Sandhill Cranes. A few long-distance pics w/ the D7100 and 300/2.8 VRII allowed me to notice that a hatchling colt was with them!

A Swamp Sparrow singing in the cattails was a challenging subject for digiscoping in the rising winds. But another Swampy a bit closer provided at least a nice watercolor-filtered image for record.

The trails were soft and the wind was making biking a real challenge, but I muscled back to the Middle Causeway and rode toward the Banana Unit. A Cliff Swallow was a nice fly-by bird with its bright white forehead and buffy rump. No Yellow-headed Blackbirds were seen despite numerous small flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds were flying about the grassland on either side of the trail.

I arrived at Cell 3 and found high water levels and sparse mud flats. Only a dozen Dunlin were foraging among another half-dozen Semipalmated Sandpipers. I scanned the Bonaparte's Gulls and Common Terns out on the flats but found no Little Gulls. I did spot a pair of Red Knots, which was an even better consolation prize!

As I swung the scope along the near shore I spotted another 4 Dunlin and (what I thought was) a Killdeer. But, when I got the scope on it I realized it was a phalarope! I immediately thought Red-necked Phalarope because of the amount of red on head and shoulders, but the bird flushed and flew past me before I could raise the camera for any flight shots. Out of sheer, dumb luck, I managed to capture a record shot literally 'from the hip'. It would turn out to be a Wilson's Phalarope!

I had better luck with a fly-by Caspian Tern. The blowing wind was slowing it down like crazy, which made it easy for me to get dozens of sharp images as it hovered and flew past me into the wind.

I then rode back toward the North Causeway. I spotted 6 American White Pelicans quietly roosting in the middle of the Vermet Unit.

I looked for the Black-necked Stilts but did not see any in the Long Pond. I would make another pass by the Laughtenschlager Unit but would see only a cooperative Tree Swallow roosting next to the trail. It was a fun bird to digiscope.

I got back to the car and made a quick trip to the Antennae Farm to see if any Bobolink were around. Several were heard, but only this Savannah Sparrow was near enough for any photos.


Sande said...

Beautiful shots! I didn't know sandhill cranes nested around here.

Cathy Carroll said...

I love the middle causeway when it looks like that.

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