Saturday, January 14, 2017
Gray Bird on a Gray Day! - 14 Jan 2017
Patrick Wright had found a Townsend's Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi) at Island Lake State Recreation Area on 8 Jan 2017. Since then, several birders have been able to relocate the bird despite its gregarious range in the SRA and the miserable crappy weather the past four days. I decided to drive out there this morning to look for the bird, myself.
My adventure started a bit early, unfortunately. I was forced off the highway on the way to my destination, which caused my camera to slide off the front seat and onto the floor. When I reached the parking lot I noticed the autofocus failed to work. Removing the teleconverter restored autofocus to the camera, but I then could not get it back on the camera. So, I went to work using the naked 300/2.8 VRII on the D500.
I met Joe Kasniewski in the parking lot near the dunes where the bird was last located. The flooded trails had frozen overnight so walking was treacherous. We found our way to the last known coordinates and started looking around. Nothing. We would eventually see Myles McNally, Andrew Simon and Andrea Rose in the area. Nothing from them, either.
We headed back to the dunes and split up. I headed back toward the trees, and after a few minutes spotted the bird flying out over the lake and landing in a tree near Joe. After a few minutes it flew back toward me, but I couldn't get the camera out of my harness and missed it flying right over my head. Ugh.
The poor lighting would require a digiscoped video in order to get any usable pics.
Joe and I would then head back to our cars, but not before stopping to try to get some last looks at the bird before it flew back toward the lake. It was great meeting you, Joe, and thanks for all the help finding the bird (and my car...).