Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Stupid or Lucky - 11/21/2009

Today I had a Sharp-shinned Hawk sitting on my back fence - and from my kitchen window I tried to take a picture only to have it fly off as soon as I raised the camera. "It'll come back" I said to myself and it did only to sit on the fence in the next yard with its back to me. By the time I walked out the side door and got to the back corner of the house he was gone. "It'll come back" I said again to myself and about ten minutes later there he sat on the cables in the alley.

I grabbed my camera and made my way out to the back of the yard (no he didn't fly off) - I opened the gate that led to the alley (no he didn't fly off). I walked to the back corner of my fence and then preceded to walk to the end of my neighbors fence and "no he didn't fly off".

On one of the posts happen to be two squirrels chasing one another - than the biggest of the two decided to take a walk on the wire - towards the hawk. I watched in amazement this squirrel and this very patient hawk (or very stunned hawk). The squirrel got within a foot of the hawk and then the hawk made its move. All it did was stomp its talons (more or less). The squirrel moved its way towards the pole and then decided to come back for a second go. In the middle of his dare he did manage to stop and chatter with a few squirrels that were in the yard in front or back of him (which ever way you look at him) while this hawk kept looking at him I'm sure wondering what this squirrel was trying to do or prove.

In his last challenge this squirrel moved in and out over the cables and decided to sit just below the hawk (approximately another foot away). Yes - the hawk did look at him like he was nuts but obviously this squirrel knew something that I didn't. A Downy Woodpecker landed on a wire just above the Hawk (yes the hawk looked up) and the squirrel made his way back to the pole and down and then was gone.

I guess a sitting still Hawk is no threat to a squirrel, maybe the Hawk needed height to attack, maybe the squirrel was too big for the Hawk or maybe it was the squirrels lucky day. Til my next post.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Repeat Performance - 11/08/2009

This past weekend was called "Indian Summer". Sun shining, slight breezes, great temperatures, and great to be outdoors. Took my usual ride down to Pte Moo - Roberts Rd to Campau Rd and then on to Lake Erie Metro Park. Roberts Road gave me one bird a Swainsons Thrush. I hesitate at times to take their picture because I'm never sure if it is or if it's a young Robin. Campau Rd - the gate at the HQ has a lot of brush cover, trees, pine trees, etc. alot of places for birds to hide and fly in and out of.

The Cardinals are plentiful but there is one that seems to be the "Godfather" because he keeps "hissing" away other cardinals and certain other birds (black-capped chickadees). He doesn't mind sharing the top of the post with the House Finches or a House Sparrow. There are a couple of Goldfinches hanging out and of course on the ground White-throat Sparrows, a Junco and pretty much anyone who can't get to the top of the post (because of the Cardinal).

After about an hour of snapping and watching I headed on to LEMP. If you've never walked through the trail at the one entrance there is a statue of a Black Lab (?) who really does look kind of scarey, I like to refer to him as "Cujo". In the area of Cujo the trees are full of Cedar Waxwings and Yellow-rump Warblers. There are a few Downy's close by and in the distance I can hear a Red-bellied Woodpecker - just couldn't find him.
Half way around the trail I stopped and sat on the bench just before you get to the back deck of the trail. White-throat Sparrow are moving around on the underbrush and logs and high up in hte trees moves a small Gold-crowned Kinglet. I stood off the trail and watched his every move hoping he would give me just a little hope of a shot of him - then he was gone and it was time for me to move on. I got a picture of a Dragonfly and a Butterfly before I got back to my vehicle.

Before going home I decided to head back over to Campau Rd - see Saturday there was a Red-bellied Woodpecker that showed up about noon or a little after and I wanted to see if I could get lucky enough to see him again - that noisey fella didn't let me down. Someone had just left a handful of birdseed on the post outside the gate and he came cratching in knocking seed to the ground every time he landed. I did notice that the Cardinals didn't stay around when he came flying in, of course, he really wasn't quiet about it either.

Hunger finally overcame me and it was time to go home. Hope you all had a good weekend. Til my next post.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Relaxing Morning 11/06/09

Today I decided to give myself a vacation day. Although the day was slightly chilly - the sun was shining bright - who wouldn't take advantage of the day to go looking for birds to photograph. After breakfast I grabbed my camera and headed over to Pte Moo HQ - the tree just outside the gate was very active. The first birds that I saw were two Gold finch unfortunately they were too far for a clear picture. I entered through the gate and parked just inside the entrance. The movement in the trees was constant.

Cardinals (male and females), Black-capped Chickadees, White-throat Sparrows, House Finches (male and female), and Juncos. A Gold-crowned Kinglet came out of the pine tree close to the gate and a Tree Sparrow also came out of hiding.

After an hour the activity kind of stopped so I decided to mae a stop at Lake Erie Metro Park and take a slow walk through the nature trail. Inside the trail I was greeted by two deer eating in the bushes until I appeared then they were watching me as I walked pass and stopped to take a couple of pictures of them.

The trail was rather quiet but I kept on walking and stopped every now and then to listen. A white object flew amongst the brush and trees and finally when it landed I noticed that it was a Brown Creeper. Other than a Downy and a few more Black-capped Chickadees there wasn't much to take pictures of.

The walk took me approximately an hour and I decided to head on home to cut grass, fill feeders and trim rose bushes. Tomorrow is suppose to be another nice day and a little warmer - can't wait. Til my next post.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mio - 10/18/2009

With temperatures on the chilly side we drove up to Mio for a couple of days. The colors going up weren't what I had expected - sort of washed out. The man on the radio mentioned that this was the peak of the colors.

After we got to the house I went through my usual ritual of filling all the feeders. No sooner did I get the seeds in one feeder the birds came in from everywhere as if there was a blue-light special. Out back was no different. I have replaced a lot of my suet holders with drilled holes in a few rather dead trees for suet plugs which seem to work just great. We went up to the local feed store to get corn and some more suet cakes only to find it closed early. Went to the local hardware store to get some screening to repair one of my feeders and lucked out on finding the suet cakes at a pretty good price.

When we got back I noticed turkeys on the entrance of the trail that leads out back. I went in to get my camera and sat on the porch step - the turkeys came toward the house and started to peck away at the bird seed on the ground beneath one of my feeders. The count was twenty - males and females. When they were through at the house I followed them out to my blind where there are acouple more feeders. I watched them for a good hour before they decided to move on.

After the turkeys left I noticed in the underbrush under my suet tree Juncos moving around. By this time it was around 7:00 p.m. and I didn't have my beamer with me so I used the flash from the camera. All I could do is hope that these guys would come out a little earlier on Sunday so I could get a picture in the day-light.

Sunday morning was cold but with all the activity going on at the feeders at my blind you really didn't notice the cold that much. The blind has a heater in it so when it got too cold I would go in for a moment to warm a little. The usual visitors White-breasted Nuthatch and Red, Black-capped Chickadees, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers andf Blue Jays. A loud tapping in the woods took me on a walk of curiosity - turned out to be a little Downy making all the noise. A Red-bellied Woodpecker made an appearance so I chased him for a while until he flew off a little deaper into the woods. After lunch I almost had an opportunity to get a better and closer shot of the Red-bellied Woodpecker, there he was perched against the tree eating the suet, raised my camera to focus in and a Blue Jay came in and scared the bird away. I sat on that bench for two hours and that bird never came back.
The Juncos finally made an appearance before lunch - one gave me the opportunity to snap this photo.
This was my weekend, to some boring, to me just to sit out in the woods and listen - very relaxing.
Til my next post.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

With a slow start - Saturday turned out to be a pretty decent day. A drive over to Pte Moo HQ gave me nothing and my trip over to Roberts Road gave me a Red-bellied Woodpecker and Yellow-rump Warblers flying back and forth across the street. With nothing else to take a photo of I decided to go over to Lake Erie Metro Park and venture a walk around the nature trail. When I got there my friend Jerry and his three nieces and wife Robin were just packing it up and getting ready to leave. After a brief conversation and introductions Jerry and group went their way and I started my walk. I was very surprised that with all the rain that we had on Friday that the trail was actually dry- except for a couple of the benches that I sat on.

The Blue Jays were flying through the path like they were playing a game of catch me if you can. In the brushes the White-throat Sparrows were moving around - you could see there shadowed figures moving but just couldn't get them to get to a spot that would allow a clean shot. They would move from the brush to a tree branch behind another tree and I would sit and wish for it to move to the edge of the branch - but instead of doing that they would just fly across the path to the brush on the other side of the trail.

When it comes to birding I found that this is where I have my most patience - because the longer you stand and listen (or in my case sit) one will eventually give you a shot - as did this White-throat Sparrow.

The Yellow-rump Warblers were moving through the trees and eventually one or two did come in for a landing and gave me an opportunity to get a few shots as well.

My surprising shot of the day was a picture of a Blue-headed Vireo.

My walk through the nature trail took me a little longer than I had anticipated but well worth it. I packed up my camera and headed for home.

Til my next post!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Solution To An Ongoing Problem - 10/08/2009

My backyard through the year has been a feeding frenzy and I would like to keep it that way - with a few changes. I have had numerous Pigeons, Doves, Grackles, Starlings, Sparrows, Finches, Woodpeckers, Robins and Blue Jays. Oh yeah! did I mention the squirrels (three of them)? I have replaced suet cakes on a daily basis (because of the bigger birds and the squirrels) thistle was every other day (until I moved it to another spot), the black oiled sunflower seeds also every other day (because of the squirrels - even though it's caged). I have watched this and decided that something had to be done.

At the beginning of the year I bought a decorative bird cage, one that you would put artificial flowers in, maybe a fake bird to add to it. The ribbing on the cage is as wide as the suet holders so what I did was hooked my suet holder in the center of the cage and hung it out on a shepards hook. The little birds have figured out that they can fit through the openings - this keeps the larger birds out of this suet cake. Now I replace this double holder once a week.

On the back fence I have another double holder and what I did to this one is took one of those clear baffles and bolted it to the front of the holder. It took a while for the little birds to figure out how this works - a few of them got it down, some are still trying to get at it by flying straight at it. This keeps the big birds out and the squirrels.

The Downy's that visit my yard were my concern - especially for the winter. Since they cling to the fence they figured that they just need to side step through or step down. Hopefully this cake will last a little longer and the baffle should protect its visitors in the winter.
I realize that this won't get rid of all the pigeons, doves, grackles, starlings, squirrels, but this should keep them from attacking these two feeders and leaving something for the little ones that visit. Besides without a few of these guys around - the Hawk that visited last year and has made an appearance this year won't come back.
Til my next post!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Last Weekend of the Month 09/27/09

Headed up north on Friday (last days for fishing on the Ausable River) to give ourselves an extra day for fishing. Saturday was overcast with no rain and Sunday was the best out of all three days. Friday out on the river gave me nothing but Saturday I did get a rainbow which makes this year (after eleven years) the first time I didn't get skinked on the last day.

I decided to move a bench out to the area of my blind. Every now and then while sitting in my blind I always hear sounds and noises on the roof and even though I do go out and look around and walk a little it always seems like I'm missing something. With the bench in place I can go out now and keep an eye on all feeders and also watch the trees tops.

The feeders were full of Chickadees and Nuthatches, a couple Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, but the tree tops had some activity of its own and without the bench in place I would have missed: a Cape May Warbler, a female American Redstart, and a Yellow-rumped Warbler. A Brown Creeper has been spotted a couple of times but not close enough to get a shot and certainly not while the sun was out. From the blind in the thicket just under the window appeared an immature White-crowned Sparrow.

The bench serves another purpose - see while I'm sitting on it the squirrels stay away - my little scavenger (a chipmunk) feels free to run around gathering what the birds drop from the feeders and the Blue Jays keep their distance.

Six white tails ran through my little wildlife refuge I've created for myself, but too fast to snap a picture. Over this weekend I decided to do a little planting as well (in hopes to add to my little spot). I planted some trumpet pods, some sumac and some crab apples. Not sure if they'll take - it is sandy ground - but it's worth trying. Til my next post.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hawk Fest Visited - 9/19/09

The Hawk Fest was the 19 and 20 of September and the first time I've been home to go to this event. I started out by visiting Pte Mouillee HQ to see the Hawk counters - surprised that there were only maybe a handful (~10-15 people). Then I went over to Lake Erie Metro Park, parked my vehicle and walked down to the boat launch where there too were only a handful of viewers.

I walked over to the Museum where there were tents set up with the best in spotting scopes and tri-pods. Books and pamplets on birds, butterflies, plants and more. Learning areas where you could learn how to describe a bird. And of course there were the raptors on display. To get a chance to see these powerful creatures from the smallest - an American Ketrel - to the largest owl in the world - an Eurasian Eagle Owl was great.

Looking at this Eurasian Eagle Owl, I would have thought it was a Great Horned, but this guy has a body length of 24-29 inches; a wingspand of 5 - 6 feet and weighs anywhere from 3.5 - 9 pounds.

The Great Horned Owl has a body length of approximately 22 inches; wingspan of 44 inches and weighs approximately 3.1 pounds.

A Peregrine Falcon was sitting on a perch under the tent. I managed to get this close-up after the crowd moved away. Although he sat still - at one point he started to quiver or shiver (not quite sure). I know with the hawks every now and then they would try to take flight as the trainers would pull them back in and then spritz them with water. Is this shivering that the Peregrine did a way of cooling down?
Ther were two Red-tail Hawks a female and two males. Another trainer (ungloved) held an American Kestrel and finally decided to put the bird on a perch because his little talons were starting to hurt. Unfortunately this little guy would only give me a back of the head shot and although he is only 9 inches tall and weighs 4.1 ounces I wasn't going to argue the direction he was looking in.

I never got a chance to go back on Sunday - I was curious as to what birds they might have had that day but there were other things I needed to take care of before the weekend was over. Oh well at least I got a chance to see a Hawk Fest for a day - glad I did. Til my next post.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Quiet Weekend - 09/12/2009

With the Waterfowl Festival going on over the weekend on Campau Road I headed on over to Roberts Road. Not a soul parked on the road, not a bird flying back and forth across the street. I headed all the way down to the end ofthe road and parked near the small boat launch. There was alot of singing and some flying back and forth. With the sun not quite up over the fragmites any shot taken was dark and not viewable. Behind me there was alittle racket going on so I stopped to turn and watch what my appear. In the depths of the growth a Common Yellow-throat made its way to the front and then in view where I could get a good shot of him.

Across from that area a Gray Catbird is making himself heard and seen, in fact the trip down Roberts Road on Saturday and Sunday produced quite a few views of the Catbird. The Cedar Waxwings are still in numbers in the area. The Black-capped Chickadee can be heard but is keeping itself hidden in the thicket. A Great-crested Flycatcher sits atop a tree while a Downy Woodpecker plays hide and seek where I can't get a photo. A Dragonfly in a thicket patch gives me a challenge but I manage to focus on the stem of the flower just below him and get my shot.

After leaving Roberts Road I headed over to Lake Erie Metro Park to see if any is happening over there. A quick trek down to the picnic area gives me the opportunity to get a shot of a Hawk sitting on the bat house on the little road to the right - just before you get to the bridge.

On Sunday I make my way back down to Roberts Road to see if I can get some more photos - while standing down at the edge of the boat launch I see something flying towards. As it passes me I notice that it's a Hummingbird. What were my chances? By the time I could get a focus on him he was gone. Feeling like I missed my chance I decided to leave only to turn back and park. No one was there and where was I going to go. Standing back down at the edge of the boat launch that little bugger came back and hovered over the rock that he disappeared behind early. Not the best picture but I did get one.

A quick stop on the way home to LEMP to take a walk around the trail to the boat launch gave me no photos. Headed on home.

Next weekend the Hawkfest but I'll be up north. Good luck to all who will be out there counting the hawks. Til my next post.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wrens, Warblers and more...8/29/2009

Inspite of the gloomy start to Saturday morning I decided to take a ride out to Pte. Mouillee. First I traveled down Campau Road to look and listen for activity. If you've ever been down this road you know that there are a couple bridges that cross inlets. The first one to the right has a lot of greenery growing and nothing was there. The second bridge however had an Egret standing in front of the log that sits in the center where three young Wood Ducks are just biding their time. About midway between the road and the log there are about six just doing nothing. I tried to get a photo of these guys but because of the gray skies I just couldn't get them in focus. The last bridge is just before you reach the gate to the HQ and on the left side there are a couple of adults and quite a few young Wood Ducks. They were in the shadows so no real good photo there either.

The tree to the right of the gate has a lot of activity so I drove through to the waters edge and then parked just before passing back through the gate. "Patience is definitely a virtue" for birding and it seems these days I have more for the birds than I do for people. I sat and watched every movement of the branches - not just in the tree but in the bushes that are in that little horse-shoe shaped driveway. The Black-capped Chickadees are just "chicka-dee-dee -dee" their way back and forth. There's a Warbling Vireo jumping around in the branches "come on baby just a little closer to the edge". Well he didn't get all the way to the edge but he tried.

In the bushes to my right while looking a the tree there's a lot of movement. It pays to watch that jagged movement of the bushes - you never know what's going to pop out of it. The first movement I watched produced a squirrel - not far from that one popped a House Wren who was very cooperative. He looked this way and that - looked at me - then turned around so I could get the back view - then he was gone. In the bushes over just a little more was a Common Yellow-throat making it's way through the branches. After spending a couple hours there I decided to take a ride down to Roberts Road to see if there was any activity there.

Roberts Road was a very productive. The Great-crested Flycatchers were in abundance, just as the Cedar Waxwings were months before. The area was full of Baltimore Orioles, Warblers, Eastern Kingbirds, Goldfinch, Tanagers, Catbirds and more.

On Sunday I made the same trip - same route and had the opportunity to get some more photos of some of the birds I saw on Saturday and a few new ones. My time on Sunday was only two hours but in that time I took about 627 pictures (600 on Saturday).

My final shot for the day and my very first decent shot was this of an Osprey having breakfast in an old tree that sat off of Jefferson Road between Roberts Road and Campau Road.

Coming up next Labor day weekend and I'm heading north. Til my next post.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Very Active Weekend - Mio - 08/16/2009

I have mentioned a couple of times that my birding has become a little limited, this is due to the fact that I need knee surgery and walking isn’t very pleasant at times. My weekends up north are my salvation to do my birding and in the past couple of months I can say “it’s been crappy”. I was beginning to think that all the birds went on vacation – even the Black-capped Chickadees who I thought were always around no matter what. This past weekend however was great. The first birds to hit the feeder behind the house was a Black-capped Chickadee, then came a White-breasted Nuthatch and sitting in a tree at the side of the house in the shade of the trees was an immature Eastern Phoebe.

I continued to fill all my feeders and then wait around for a while to see if I can here that “yank, yank, yank” from the White-breasted Nuthatch. Once he’s heard everybody comes a flying in. Feeders are all filled and now I’m off to go fishing – when I get back I’ll check the feeders to see if there’s been any activity while I was gone. Its 9 p.m. by the time we get back from fishing - so checking the feeders will have to wait til the morning.

Sunday morning with bag and camera and scope (if things are slow) and after making coffee I head out to my blind where there is more movement than I have seen in along time. The Black-capped Chickadees are everywhere, a Red-breasted Nuthatch flies in to the tree to my right and finds its way down to the feeder where I have black oiled sunflower seeds. In flies a White-breasted Nuthatch chasing the Red-breasted Nuthatch away. A little striped bird keeps bouncing through the thicket just below the window of my blind; finally he lands in a spot where I can get a look at it and then where I can actually get a picture. The bird is moving around so much that I’m taken by surprise when it lands on a branch an arm lengths reach out my window – a very pretty Black and White Warbler. This little one will come and go several times before he calls it quits.

As fast as the birds come in and entertain me they suddenly disappear and for a brief 20 minutes all is quiet except for a little bit of stirring in the thicket below my window. As I look down I catch the glimpse of something small moving around. I thought it might be a chipmunk checking around for seeds that I occasionally drop for him so he doesn’t get beat up by the squirrels. As I keep watching I see this little yellow face peek through – then the body and now he’s making his way to the top of branches – a Canada Warbler (a first for me). Since 9 a.m. and some 700 pictures later it is now 12:15 and time for lunch. I have taken photos of the Black-capped Chickadees, White and Red-breasted Nuthatches, an immature Eastern Phoebe, a young Chipped Sparrow and an adult, Black and White Warbler, Canada Warbler, the Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, Grackles and a Willow Flycatcher.

At lunch I mention to my better half that it’s been a year since I last saw the Pileated Woodpecker in our woods and to see him or her today would really top off my weekend. So after lunch I went back out to the blind and he went to take a nap before we head home. As I sit out there I watch a Hairy Woodpecker chase off a Downy Woodpecker. The Downy sits patiently waiting its turn to feed on the suet when the Hairy is done. In the meantime while sitting and watching I feel a nudge at the bottom of my chair, as I look down I see a chipmunk has come to visit. Since I really don’t want him in there for now I open the door and scurry him out the – as I step back in I look over to the left and notice my wish. There chipping away is a Pileated Woodpecker, a young one is my guess, and she didn’t seem to be bothered by my movements as I tried to get closer to get some photos. In fact, instead of flying away she kept coming closer to my blind with every short flight. She did land on a short stump that is just outside my blind which stands every bit of 24” and I would say that she came up ~6” short of that stump.

Approximately 200 shots later she flew away and I grabbed all of my toys, locked up my blind and headed for the house. This weekend truly did make up for what I haven’t been able to get in the past couple of months. Til my next post.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Birding By Car - 07/31/2009

With my birding being limited these days- I decided to take Friday off from work to do a little birding from my vehicle. Usually when I do this I travel down Compau Road but this morning I decided to head down Roberts Rd just to see - maybe even get lucky. As I travel I can see the birds flying back and forth across the road and with the morning sun on my left I can guarantee that's the side the birds are. A Song Sparrow sits on a wire with an Indigo Bunting sitting not too far from him.

When I got to the end of the road (and since there were cars there) I decided to park and take a short walk. I have never ventured that part and was amazed at how pretty the view was. I walked up to where there were some guys fishing and then turned around to go back to my vehicle. I stopped just outside the gate to watch the activity in a tree. When all was quiet I got into my vehicle and started my (very) slow drive back down Roberts Road.

I managed photos of a juvenile European Starling which worked it's way through the branches to the top of the tree - a couple of Goldfinches and a Yellow Warbler that sat very pretty while I snapped away. An Indigo Bunting flew up from the grasses and clung to the stalk long enough for me to get my first good shot of one. Several shots of a Cabbage White, a Common Sulfur and a Viceroy. While driving through I spotted a Black-billed Cuckoo with the hopes of him landing in a spot that would give me a decent shot. He did. My favorite out of all the birds I saw and photographed is the Cedar Waxwing. Last year was the first time I had ever seen one and this year I have seen them in abundance, such an elegant bird.

That was my outing - and it wasn't a disappointment.
Til my next post.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Oh Baby! Baby! - 7/19/2009

For the past couple of weeks I have done most of my birding from my backyard. While doing this I have noticed a lot of noisey little birds (babies) chirping and throwing tantrums for mom's attention. With all the babies here I was hoping to see some littles up north. Thursday morning I and my better half headed up to St Ignace where it was cold and wet. My intentions were to go to Mackinac Island one day and hopefully Seney Wildlife Refuge on another. The weather definitely controlled where we went and Saturday being the better of the two Seney won and Mackinac Island lost.

Overcast and wind made it difficult to get some good shots but remembering what I saw was great. Yellow-rump Warblers were numerous and flying everywhere and landing in impossible spots to photograph. As we drove the the trail there was a Mallard with 5 ducklings and another one swimming close to the shore with 4 ducklings hiding in the grasses. Two Trumpeter Swans in the tall grasses to the right with 2 little ones staying close and a lone Trumpeter with 4 swimming and eating close to their mom. A young doe came out of the grasses and watched us, while taking pictures and talking to her she moved closer and closer to the truck while she ate. A little way down the road we came upon two speckled back fawns that ran for cover behind some bushes. The one ran for cover and I think the other just ran because its sibling ran. The one watched very intently as I got out of the truck and tried to maneuver my way down the road to get a clear shot of both of them - of course I couldn't. Mom wasn't too far up the road eating. There was also a Wood Duck swimming the pond with her 5 little ducklings.

The highlight of this trip was seeing a Loon with her baby on her back. I have seen pictures in magazines but have never actually seen this and I wasn't disappointed. There she was - baby on her back and another floating along side them - beautiful. I tried to get a good shot of this wonderful sight and with the help of my friend Jerry (for cleaning this one up for me) I can add it to this post. As we left the park I couldn't get that picture out of my head this one really did move me.

Back at the hotel I decided to take a look out over the lake to see if there was anything out there - swimming very calmly until I moved closer to the water was a Merganser and her 5 little darlings. As I moved closer to try and get a better shot coming from the grasses in a little pond close by came a lot of chirping. As I moved closer to see if I could find who was making all the noise I was stopped by a very upset female Red-winged Blackbird. I can assure you I did not linger, especially since she had dinner hanging out of her beak I knew someone had to be hungry.

Sunday morning came quickly and our long weekend was over. Traveling home we were still talking about the speckeld back fawns that we saw, the doe that we couldn't get over how close she kept moving towards us and the babies - especially the Loon with baby in tow and in float. My only hope next year is that I can pick a weekend that will give me more sun and less rain.

Til my next post.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Morning After - 06/20/2009

Recently, alot of my birding has been done in my own backyard. This weekend past weekend wasn't any different. Friday, as the weather started to make its changes throughout the day I watched the birds in my yard hang on to the feeders as the winds picked up and the rain began to fall. After awhile I got distracted by my son telling me that water was coming into the basement - thankfully it wasn't the sewer and it was a small amount. I did however, pray that it would stop raining soon. The next morning with latte in hand and camera I decided to sit out in the backyard and just watch the activity after the storm.

I still have a backyard of at least a dozen pigeons that seem to take flight at every sound and/or movement. There are about five mourning doves that stay to the back of my yard and one that likes to be with the smaller birds. Six House Finches still frequent my black oiled sunflower feeder (four male and two female) and there's still a Goldfinch couple that likes the thistle feeders. Two Downy Woodpeckers scale my back fence waiting for the activity to stop at the suet feeder. House Sparrows fly in at out making their way through the Grackles, Pigeons, Doves and Starlings on the other feeder.

There are three squirrels that live in my maple tree at the back of the my yard as well and they're out there too, chasing each other around the tree. It takes a peanut butter sandwich to keep one of them out of the feeders, the other two go off to other places.

I started a small flower garden in the northeast corner of my yard. There are orange, pink, and bright yellow lilies, a lilac bush which has started to take off, other plants that bush and give kind of a ground cover and a few rose bushes with trellises behind for the birds to perch on. This is where a majority of the birds that come to my yard hang out. I guess if they visit my yard it's not a bad place to be. Til my next post.

"To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhiliarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an eening saunter; to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring - these are some of the rewards of the simple life." ~ John Burroughs

Friday, June 5, 2009

Backyard Photographing - 05/31/2009

Tonight while I was redoing a park bench in my backyard I happened to glance up at my lilac bush (which is a late bloomer) and caught the fluttering wings of a Black Swallowtail. When I came in for the night I suddenly remembered the photos that I took last weekend. Last weekend was a weekend of no birding - a funeral on Saturday and a day spent with my sister on Sunday took up pretty much of my time. But Sunday - late afternoon as I walked out into the backyard to get the lawnmower out of the shed a yellow flutter caught my eye, I ran into the house to grab my camera and take a few hundred shots of a very pretty Tiger Swallowtail.

While I sit here writing about what happened a week ago and this evening I am watching two Goldfinch eat out of the thistle feeder. My kittens Bailey and Peanut sit in the window and watch the birds - every now and then they cry a little because they can't have them but they are content to just sit and watch.

It's beginning to get late and time to catch up on a few more things before I go to sleep. So I say "goodnight" til my next post.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Peregrine Falcon @ BASF - Wyandotte - 5/29/2009

About 30 ft from the entrance to the Chemical Engineering Bldg at BASF are a row of poles that go about 20 - 30 ft up, perched upon one of them on Wednesday morning was what a colleauge thought might be a hawk. By the time I got to the door to see the bird was gone. I had another chance to view this bird just a little after lunch - checking out a little closer we identified it to be a Peregrine Falcon. On the lines not far away from the falcon was a frantic and very boisterous Robin who was doing everything she could possibly think of to get the falcons attention away from where it was sitting. My conclusion was that possibly the Robin had a nest there or the Falcon caught mate or maybe did get one of her young or possibly all and was having a snack. Whatever the reason the Falcon wasn't giving an inch or giving up. The Robin did relunctantly leave and the Falcon after digging around in the top of the pole grab whatever last morsel there was, shook it and carried it off - maybe to its nest. At the end of the day I thought it wouldn't be back, but I was wrong.

The next morning as I left for work I decided to grab my camera (even though I thought he wouldn't be back). At lunchtime I had to leave my builiding to go to another and there the Falcon sat - pecking away at a much larger morsel - atop the same pole. This bird sat for at least 25 minutes and even though it was overcast and misty I fired off approxiamtely 170 pictures in hopes that one would be good.
Today is Friday and the Falcon hasn't been been seen today (so far) but that doesn't necessarily mean it won't be. Here's hoping he does come back. Til my next post.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lake Erie Metro Park - 5/17/2009

With the weather being on the cool side and the sun shining brightly I decided to head over to Lake Erie Metro Park and walk the nature trail. The first bird that greeted me on my left was a Black and White Warbler and to my right I have no idea because the little guy just moved too quickly for me. In fact all the birds (except for a few) are moving very quickly. My hopes on this walk is to get a glimpse and hopefully a shot at some of the Warblers that migrated in our area last weekend.

I spotted a Chestnut-sided Warbler - who stayed pretty much behind the leaves so trying to focus in on his head as he moved around was my goal. A Black-throated Blue Warbler jumped from ground to branch - unfortunately when I thought I had a good shot a little unseen something got in the way and all I got was a blur.

I began my walk around 10:15 and ended it around 2:30, in this time I walked the Nature Trail and the path along the river - to the boat launch - and back to my vehicle. The photos I managed to get: Black and White Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler (not a good photo, but a photo), House Wren, Magnolia Warbler, Palm Warbler, Rose-breasted Groesbeak, Baltimore Oriole, Yellow Warbler (very cooperative), Common Yellow Throat and an Eastern Wood Peewee. A very nice outing on a very nice day. Til my next post.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mio Weekend - 05/09/2009

With temperatures still in the low 50's it's quite evident that spring has not reached 200 miles north of us. Windy conditions knocked down quite a few of the tall trees on the property, they also seemed to keep the birds away. After filling all of the feeders and as soon as I saw the first Nuthatch I thought for sure others would follow, but no such thing. I was really excited to get up north this weekend only because it meant that the Great Crested Flycatcher would be setting up house again - but there was no sign of him either. Since there were no birds my better half and I decided to go fishing. The winds were strong and so was the current so after about an hour or so we called it quits and headed for home. On the way home a small bird darted across the hood of the truck, telling my better half to stop I grabbed my camera and snapped a few shots of the warbler in the tree - a Yellow-rumped Warbler. I was hoping for another warbler but I'll take this one.

Let me explain this road - this road is a dirt road that about 8 or 9 years back they set up a big cage to trap the cowbirds, on this road were planted Jack Pines and every time we travel down this road I always hope to see a Kirkland Warbler. We're not really far from the Jack Pines Wildlife Refuge where the Kirkland Warbler begins showing up around May. So when I see a bird flying in the area we stop and I watch and if the opportunity arises I take a photo and hope. So far - no luck.

When we got back to the house there sitting in the birdfeeder was a Rose-breasted Groesbeak who stayed around for a long while letting me take a photo of him everytime I walked around him. As I turned away from the Groesbeak I noticed leaves being tossed up from the ground, there doing all the tossing was a Hermit Thrush. For me this is the first time I have seen a Hermit Thrush up north.
Sunday morning was quiet as well. The sky was overcast and the sun wouldn't be out til afternoon so the only thing I could do was sit and wait. Except for a few Black-capped Chickadees, a Nuthatch here and there - there was really nothing out there. I did sit out in my blind for a couple of hours - no squirrel to keep me amused, no woodpeckers, no little chipmunks - just sound. Then appeared a couple of Tuft Titmouse and they were oh so cute. Nothing like watching a bird courting or catering to a mother-to-be. Back at the house the Hermit Thrush did show up again and I managed to get a few more photos of it. After lunch I went back out to my blind where a couple of Chipping Sparrows made an appearance - these guys were a first for me up north.

To view other pictures that were taken on my weekend up north go to my pBase gallery.
Nothing more to report - so til my next post.