Monday, December 29, 2008

Last Weekend for 2008 - 12/30/08

Normally I would be up north for New Years Eve but this time we went up early. We hadn't been up since Thanksgiving Weekend so we didn't know we would find 19" of snow in the driveway. The weather was a mixture of everything from rain to snow to high winds but unusually comfortable as far as temperatures go. Every weekend that I'm up north I get the usual visitors to photograph and this weekend was no different but early Sunday morning
I had a new visitor just strolling through the woods coming towards my blind - a Ruffed Grouse. As he approached I began snapping away (not sure if I was even getting him or if the lighting was okay) then suddenly he flew up into a tree, I tried to snap a few while he was up the tree and then decided to wait for him to come down, I snapped a few more when he came down and then he flew off. I would have tried to follow but the depth of the snow made it difficult to really track. The rest of the morningI just watched and snapped until 12:30 and then we decided to go get something to eat.

When we got back from eating I noticed that my finch feeder was finally getting some use - there were at least 10 Gold Finches on the feeder and another 6 in the tree behind the house. There were male and female and even though their colors a dull in the winter they are still very pretty. There was one other visitor that I had this weekend thast I haven't seen before or if I have never really noticed - a Pine Siskin. Very defined markings with the yellow streaking in his wings.

Monday morning would bring better lighting and my chance to get my photo of the Brown Creeper. While waiting for my chance he finally landed on the tree in front of my blind, he was kind of stunned by the commotion that was going on at the blind, not sure myself what happened I was so engrossed by getting this little guys photo that I didn't realize that a Black-capped Chickadee flew right into my blind and then out - only to perch himself on a branch just outside the blind. I heard the wings flapping and a lot of chirping but I never took my eye off the creeper - I was afraid I'd miss my chance.
This was my last weekend for the year 2008 - can't wait to see what the New Year brings. Til my next post have a Safe and Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Elizabeth Park - Dec 20, 2008

Around 9:30 this morning I decided to go out and see what I could find. First I drove out to Sterling State Park hoping to see maybe one of the 150 Bald Eagles that were counted the week before. Drove all the way to where the entrance to the camp grounds are and then turned around and turned into the first cleaned road I found. I sat in my vehicle because it sure was cold. I wasn't disappointed a Bald Eagle did fly over but was just a little too far for a clear enough photo to post.

After the State Park I headed on down the road and stopped in at Pte Mouillee HQ to check out the scenery. Lake Erie is frozen, except in some areas - this is where the Sea Gulls are hanging out along with some American Coots and a Common Golden Eye. Nothing else flying around except for a few Black-capped Chickadees, a White-throated Sparrow, a House Sparrow and a female Cardinal. Further down the road are some Doves and a few Juncos, other than that very quiet.
Next stop Lake Erie Metro Park to see what can be seen and the only thing there are two deer grazing in the snow. I did take a drive down to the boat launch and along the water walls where the houses are is where you'll find the American Coots, Canadian Geese and Mallards. Closer to the boat launch Mute Swans. Next stop: Elizabeth Park.

When I got to Elizabeth Park I decided to park and check out all the geese in the stream there, who knows maybe my goose from last year would be there. With camera in hand I trudged through the knee deep snow. By the time I got to the stream the geese got a little excited and "honk - honk" they all took off in flight. While standing and watching this take-off ther was a lot more activity going on in the trees behind me. The trees were full of European Starlings and these four wonderfully colored Cedar Waxwings.
It started off as two and the longer I stayed there to take pictures a third showed up and then a fourth. When they flew off to my right I turned to follow them when something else caught my eye flying low, a Red-tailed Hawk. As I stopped to see where he landed I could hear this crying like sound, looking around all I could see was a tiny black-squirrel but no hawk. Suddenly he was off again and I watched just a little closer to see where he would land. I walked in the snow as steady as I could but it was a little difficult with it being half way to my knees. He did sit long enough for me to grab a few photos and then he was off again only to land a short distance to my left. Again I walked slowly to see if he would allow a few more pictures and he did then he was off again. He made one more stop in the trees before he went across the street to roost (not sure where) in a tree where another Hawk took off after his arrival.

After watching the other hawk take off I watched to see where she may have headed and all she did was fly over the trees that set to the back looking for food I would imagine. I made my way back to my vehicle, drove slowly through the park to see if there was anything else to catch a shot of and then headed home. Til me next post.

Have a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend - 11/28/2008

Any weekend that you can walk away from - with a picture - of anything is a good weekend. The day after Thanksgiving we headed up north - temperatures were in the 30's and there was 3" of snow on the ground. I will have two days to just sit in my blind, take in the scenery and get a few photos (approximately 1500). The first time I ever sat in my blind (before it became modified and more permanent) I would set out corn, more bird feeders and suet holders than were probably necessary. There were weekends that I would sit out there and there would be nothing. Saturday morning I walked out to my blind about 8:30 a.m. - set my camera bag down and just took in the view, before I could get my camera out of the bag a young deer passed thru from my left. Not wanting to scare it off I just sat and watched, wishing the whole time I had taken my camera out of the case. Suddenly something spooked it and it was gone.
After the deer disappeared I got my camera all ready and sat with anticipation of what I might see. About twenty minutes after the first deer passed thru - a second one calmly passed thru. Since I didn't get a picture of the first I can't tell you if it was the same one or a different one. It won't be until I show the photo to a co-worker who will point out that this is a Button Buck and not a doe.

After the deer disappeared my feeder (about 25 feet from me) was attacked by the usual visitors: White-breasted Nuthatches (who I am certain alert all the birds that there is food), Red-breasted Nuthatches (who are normally chased away by the white-breasted nuthatches), Black-capped Chickadees (who will share with everyone), an abundance of Downy Woodpeckers and Hairy Woodpeckers. After a couple of hours of the usual the Tufted Titmouse make their appearance. Now while I'm sitting here watching them all fly in and fly out I start thinking about the Brown Creeper which I saw for the first time a couple of visits ago. The creeper is a year around bird and is very hard to see at times, he has the capability of clinging to a tree, spread his wings and blend in so well that you have to really look hard for it. If it wasn't for the white underside of it I would have never spotted it the first time as I did this time. Today though it has a little more movement and I try really hard to capture a decent photo of this little guy.

Sunday was a relatively quiet day - I kept hoping that the Pileated Woodpecker would appear but I didn't get that lucky that day. Before we packed up to go home a pair of Golden Finches appeared. Due to the overcast and the time I did manage to get a few decent shots before we left. So on this note I will say - til my next post.