Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Merlin! - 20 Dec 2016


I drove down to Sterling State Park this morning to look for Count-Week birds for the Monroe, MI Christmas Bird Count. Skies were overcast and generally dark, but I needed to give the camera a test-run. During Sunday's CBC the cold weather had rendered the camera inoperable; I would see f/0 and 1/2000 sec exposures at ISO 400, which generated dark images at 10-20 frames at a time. Turns out that the 1.7 TCII that I was using was shorting out the contact between lens and camera, thus ruining the exposures. So, when I removed the teleconverter, the camera seems to work just fine!

I arrived at the park at just before 8 am and captured a small flock of Horned Larks that landed on the road next to the car. 

As I drove south through the park a male Northern Harrier was spotted flying along the road ahead of the car. I couldn't get the bird to cooperate, but got a few decent pics. 

I decided to stop by the campground and look for the Killdeer that the Volkers had found on Sunday. Sure enough, the poor little guy was walking around the snow-covered parking lot looking for something to eat. Luckily, the creek to my right has open water, so there is hope that it won't perish.

As I tromped around down by the lakeshore a Hairy Woodpecker appeared overhead. I heard it call first, then saw its larger-than-a-Downy's bill.  I also took the opportunity to photograph some of the American Tree Sparrows and Song Sparrows that were foraging nearby.



As I was leaving the park I saw a dark falcon flying along Waterworks Dr. toward the entrance, and even watched it swoop at a pickup truck that was driving by. I landed in a tree next to the road, and gave me a chance to grab the scope and get some digiscoped images before it flew off into the field to the south.  This Merlin would give us a count-week bird and #81 for the Monroe, MI CBC.


By the way: the camera worked perfectly! Now, I just need to get used to only using the 300/2.8 VRII  w/o a teleconverter. The camera autofocuses faster, and vibration reduction is smooth and quiet now.

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