Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Stroke of Luck - 11_23_08

This morning I took my little ride over to Campau Road and then to Lake Erie Metro Park. Driving through the park I scan the trees from top to bottom - with window open to listen. I drive all the way to the end and then turn around praying: "Just let me get one lucky shot of a hawk." As I approached the stop sign instead of looking both ways I catch sight of a Northern Goshawk sitting on a branch (eye level) across the street. I pulled my vehicle over to grab some shots, creeping forward little by little til I am directly across from him. I decided to pull my vehicle just a little closer so I crossed the line towards him, unfortunately being two car widths away was just a little too close for this guy and he's off.

Heading on down the road making my way over to the Marshland Museum I pass my friend Jerry stopping for a while we chat about what we've seen and then we're off, Jerry goes his way and I go mine. When I get to the Museum I make a pass through the parking lot along the outside of the Nature Tail - all is quiet. Not sure which end I want to start at I decide to start at the end where the Eagle House is just a I cross over the boardwalk I am greeted by a deer. She stands and stares at me then walks calmly away - right behind her comes another and then another. They both stop and also stare, after they move on another follows quickly only to stop when she is in the thicket.

At this point I have decided not to continue and go across the way instead and walk the path down to the boat launch and around. While walking along the path near the lake I hear a constant "chip chip chip chip", almost as if a there were a chipmunk running around complaining. I see it jumping through the trees and try very hard to get a picture. Between it's movement and the branches from the foilage around I finally get a chance to identify my little friend - a Carolina Wren. Some of the shots taken were shadowed due to the fact that the sun was behind it and the only really good shot that I got has a high spot and glared. None the less a decent shot of the Wren.

I finished my little walk around and headed back to my vehicle. Anxious to see how my pictures came out I decided to head on home. Til my next post.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Always Go With Your Hunch - 11/22/08

This morning I decided to go out to Lake Erie Metro Park again to see if I could spot the Hawks and possibly get a shot. While there I did take a walk along the Nature Trail - which did turn out to be a trifle uneventful. I did spot the Hawk however and of course he was very uncooperative again, even when I tried to digiscope him - he just didn't want his picture taken.

Heading home down Jefferson Avenue just as I passed Humbug Marsh I notice this bird sitting on a wire. My first guess is it's a pigeon or a dove but there's something about this bird that makes me think twice. Watching to make sure there are no cars coming I turn around and drive up the road a little and then turn around again. I pulled over and grabbed the camera to see if I can get a better view, sure enough my hunch was right - not a pigeon - not a dove - an American Kestrel. With no traffic again I drove across and turned around in the entrance and starting firing away. It posed for the longest time and finally he had enough.

My last stop on the way home is Elizabeth Park where I tried to get a picture of an American Kestrel flying overhead - just too high up. Not an abundant amount of pictures taken today but any day you can get just one that you haven't taken in a while is a good day. Til my next post.

Worth Taking The Chance - 11-21-08

The weather report said 19 degrees - partly cloudy and the high by 5:00 was only going to be 28. Knowing that the only thing I needed to do today was enter time I decided to take the day off and go over to Lake Erie Metro Park, entering everyone's time could wait til noon. Before going to LEMP I a stop off first at Campau Road. The only activity on the lake are the gulls and all they're doing is either sitting on the frozen water or diving where it's not. There are two Pied-bill Grebes, one where the boats launch and one to the south of the parking lot. There's also a female Bufflehead on that side, tried to get a photo but all I have with me is my Canon and 500mm lens - picture wasn't close enough to post. Next stop Lake Erie Metro Park.

When get to LEMP the first thing I ususally do is drive through the park to the marina only to scan the trees for Hawks and Eagles. There's nothing going but on my return there are two Red-tail Hawks sitting on a branch together. Since I don't have my tri-pod I can't digiscope these two so I back my vehicle up to the gate without disturbing them, not a smart idea but none the less an idea. I did take a few shots of the two before they decide to fly off. As I pull back onto the road I can see something large and white sitting in another tree. I tried to get as close as I could so I parked my vehicle and walked across the street trying to get some shots along the way. I guess I took too many steps at a point because he screamed at me turned his back and then flew off. Oh well I tried and there will be another time.
Off to the Marshland Museum where on the road side the deer are out and grazing - four ahead of me, two as I make the turn to the museum and then there were three that I came upon on my walk thru the trail. In the four hours that I was out I will have taken 1500 pictures of which alot will be deleted for one reason or another. My photos will consist of the cooperative to the not so cooperative. I saw a Gold-crowned Kinglet, White-throat Sparrow and a Black-eyed Junco, Downy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, House Finch (male & female), European Starlings, Rusty Blackbird, an American Tree Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Cardinals (male & female). I'd say a very productive day. Til my next post.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Winter's In The Air - 11/08/08

While my friend Jerry is in Mexico enjoying temperatures in the 70's I am sitting near the boat launch over on Campau Road. The temperature for today is in low 40's with a 30% chance of rain. I can tell you it is cold, cloudy and windy. Near the boat launch stands a pine tree where the Tree Sparrows are gathering to shield themselves from the winds. Every now and then five or more leave the tree - fly a short distance and then return. The chirping is loud enough to think that there just might be at least a hundred of those little guys in there, but I really don't think there are.

The trees have shed their leaves and all that remains are the empty nest where life once lived. As I drive down the road (with the window down hoping to hear a sound and possibly a sign that there is still life out there) I round the corner to watch the movement in the bushes. Finally one stops long enough for me to catch a glimpse and a shot, a Yellow-rumped Warbler. He gathers his berry and he disappears from sight. The little creeks that once were filled with water, fishes, painted turtles, and ducks are at the moment dried up. As I continue down the road I can hear a Chickadee singing.

It's beginning to drizzle and I want to make one more stop at Lake Erie Metro Park and take a ride just along the outside of the Nature Trail. There's a female Cardinal just chippin away in the trees (I'm sure there's a male somewhere I can hear him) but for now she is all I hear and can see. There are three Downy Woodpeckers flying through the trees (one male and two female), I tried to get a photo but due to the cloudiness, shutter was slow and photos came out a little blurry. There's a Palm Sparrow jumping from branch to branch and then to the ground but I can't get a photo of him either.

The drizzle picked up a little and I am off to get some work done at home. I wanted to kick myself later in the day, the sun did come out and I couldn't get away to try and get the photos that I missed. This weekend I will head up north , sit in my blind and watch and listen I never know what I'm going to see. Maybe the little Brown Creeper will appear again and I'll be able to get a better photo. That's about it for now - so til my next post.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Weather Permitted - Mio - Nov 2, 2008

The weather in Mio this weekend was great. Saturday was warm and very clear. We unloaded the truck and after getting the kits all settled in I went out to fill the feeders and suet holders. First to take care of the ones close to the house, then off to my blind at the back end of the property. As I get the feeder filled with seed and the first suet holder filled I can hear the Nuthatch calling out as if to say "Come on guys, foods on". The last feeder I fill is the suet plugs in the dead tree about 30' from the blind.

It's about 4:00 when I find out what birds will be visiting me this weekend. First it's the White-breasted Nuthatch that shows, followed by the Black-capped Chickadee and now by the Tufted Titmouse. A Downy Woodpecker has made it's presence known and so does the Hairy.

I decided to go back and get my tripod to put in my blind so I'll be ready in the morning and won't have to carry so much out. As I walk to my blind I here the flapping of something big, landing on a tree in front of me is the Pileated Woodpecker. She stays attached to the tree for awhile and then she's off. Now I know Sunday has to be a good day.

Sunday morning (~8:00) I grab my bag and coffee and head out to my blind, there I will sit for the next 4 hours. The morning will bring the usual: White-breasted and Red-breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Downy Woodpecker and the Hairy Woodpecker and something new to my area a Brown Creeper. While scoping out the area and making sure all is set up right I see something crawling around the tree, not sure what it is and not sure what I see I take aim and digiscope this little guy to find out later if I really got something. Thank God it wasn't my imagination.
When all is quiet I went out to the back path to sprinkle a little corn on the trail hoping that it will attract a deer for me to photograph but what it did do was kept the squirrels busy - that meant they weren't in my feeders. The corn and the bird seed dropped on the ground by the birds also brought the Turkeys (8 to be exact - 7 grown and 1 youngen).
On my way walking back to my blind - just as I stepped in I looked out the window and there she was the Pileated Woodpecker. Slowly I grabbed my Canon w/500mm lens and shot away. I had hoped to get a movie of this bird but as usual her timing was just right and my was off. I set up my tripod so I could get ready to digiscope a movie, stepped into my blind to get my small Nikon and wouldn't you know it there she flew in. Once this bird has landed you pretty much want to stay right where you are because they don't hang around too long after movement. Oh well there's always next time up.
Well that was my weekend, time to start packing up and getting on the road. Til my next post.

Weather - Good Reason To Get Away - Nov. 5, 2008

The weather report this morning said today wasn't going to be as nice as yesterday (71) but it was going to be up there (70). When I got to work this morning I found myself writing an email that said if all went well and with the weather being 70 I was out of there by 10:30. Okay so it was 11:00 but I was out of there, went home to grab my cameras and head out to Pte Mouillee - Campau Road. The only birds I found out on Campau Road were Robins so I decided to head over to Lake Erie Metro Park. The walk around the Nature Trail gave me a picutre of an American Tree Sparrow and a nice walk so I decided to make a run over to U of M Dearborn Campus and walk the Nature Trail there.

As you walk the trail and it takes along the lake you come to an open field (Jensen's Meadow) from here there are some little paths that will lead you to a number of spots on Henry Ford's property. As I approached the meadow there was a lot of tick - tick - tick along the bushes, there were about six Dark-eyed Junco flying through the thickets and one flew over head and landed on the grass. I managed to get a few shots of the little guy before he flew off. Not far from him was the entrance to a little path that will take you to the Lily Pond on the Mansion grounds as I approached the opening I could here a dihlip in the trees. I approached the trees very cautiously to see if I could find the bird making the noise. When I finally find him I snapped away - it's not until I get home that I found out that I had a picture of a Carolina Wren.

I continued to walk around the lake where there is a lot of sounds I just don't know what they all are yet. I heard a Cardinal and the Nuthatch but didn't see them til I was about to leave the trails. On the North end of the Lake are Mr & Mrs Mallard and a Painted Turtle taking advantage of the sun. As I said I can here the sounds at that point you stop and wait for movement. As I reach the end of the trail four Red-bellied Woodpeckers are playing in the taller bushes in front of me. Above me where I stoppped to take the photo is a nest that one of the females flew up to. I continued my walk which took me right to the feeders where there is a lot of activity.

Well it's was soon close to 4:00 and I wanted to make one more stop at the mansion to see if there might be anything there. I didn't take a long walk just around to see if the falls were running. On the way back to my vehicle I can here little see -see sounds. I scoped the tree out very closely and suddenly there she is - a little thing - and of course the leaves on the tree seem to be larger than she is. She's at the very top jumping from branch to branch never in a good spot to take a picture - but I can wait sooner or later she has to give in. Finally I get my shot, actually I got a couple - a Golden-crowned Kinglet, definitely worth the wait and now it's time to go home. Til my next post.