Monday, April 30, 2012

Red Knot in the pouring rain....

I got a call from Tom Heatley..... Red Knot (148) on the beach at Metrobeach.... I was in St. Clair seeing a patient..... hopped in my car and flew down the highway as soon as I was done..... Arrived at the same time as Kevin Rysiewski..... we slowly moved toward where we knew the Red Knot was and of course it flew out over the water to the oppisite side of the beach..... We followed it and were both able to get some photos.... all while in the pouring rain... Coat over my camera...  Wonderful colors in this bird.... Thanks again Tom for the call!!!!!!!  

Earlier in the day I had a Black and White Warbler (147) in the woods behind the AMC theatre in Sterling Heights.... also came face to face with a Doe that was protective of her area... stomped her hoof at me trying to scare me.....  Click to enlarge
Red Knot

Red Knot

Red Knot

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Virginia Rail.... I think I like the new lens...

I birded Metrobeach this morning for a couple of hours.. Highlights included a Marsh Wren (141), 3 Yellow Warblers (142), Palm Warbler (143), Warbling Vireo (144) and a couple of Goofy Virginia Rails that gave a few people a show.... The two rails were in the South Marsh on the loop... They were working the edge of the cattails and making a ton of noise... I sat quietly as the sun came up and was able to get a couple of photos from about 10 feet away... The new lens did a great job zooming in on the birds...  There wasn't a ton of movement in the woods... I ran into Mike Mencotti and he had seen a Lincoln Sparrow.... A few dozen Cormorants flew over and I saw 4 Wilson's Snipe in the Marsh along the service Rd...

In the evening I took a walk at Wolcott Mills Metropark... I found a pair of Bank Swallows(145) nesting on the bluff overlooking the river... 7 Cedar Waxwings (146) were my FOY.... I am probaly the only person in Macomb County that hasn't seen them yet this year.... Eastern Towhee were everywhere.... I heard a Eastern Screech Owl calling along the river.... Just as I was leaving the Park I heard the loud call of a Pileated Woodpecker and looked up and he was above my head.... Unfortunately it was between the Sun and I, and no pictures.... Bummer.... With the warm weather coming this week, migration should explode.... Hope so..... click to enlarge..
Virginia Rail

Virginia Rail

Tree Swallow trying to warm up in the morning sun

Eastern Towhee

Parachute over my head at Wolcott Mills

Saturday, April 28, 2012

New lens

I got a new zoom today.... It a Sigma zoom that will go out to 500mm... I tested it out today in the cloudy dark weather.... figured that since this is a lens that does not like the dark, then what better place to test it out.... So I headed over to Macomb Corners Park and found some baby Killdeer in the middle of the pond running around to test it on.... they were in the middle of the pond, maybe 25 yrds... I shot at Iso 800 and used F10.... OS on.... (shop talk for photographers... LOL).... I was impressed for the first day..... When I shot the Song Sparrow the lens did look for him... but the lens focused well.... I am going to shoot with it for a couple of weeks before I decide to keep it, but so far... I am happy... click to enlarge

chicks underneath Mom

Back from Austin Texas

I got back last night from a week in Austin Texas... It was work related and I only had the one day to bird and I didn't start until noon.... Not the best options... But I headed out any ways around Lady Bird lake on a 4 mile loop... I didn't bring my camera this time because I knew I would only have the one day to shoot, so it figures, I got up close and personal with Carolina Wren, Bewicks Wren, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Yellow breasted Chat, Clay-colored Sparrow and Green Herons (they were everywhere)... I also saw plenty of Western Kingbirds, Mockingbirds, Great-Tailed Grackle, Chimney Swifts..... I tried to pick a Cave Swallow out of the million Cliff Swallows circling just about every bridge over the lake, but no luck.... Nashville Warbler, Canada Warbler, White-eyed Vireo, Carolina Chickadee, Black-crested Titmouse, were some of the other notables..... Best bird was a couple of Upland Sandpipers at the airport.... My plane landed and as we were taxing to the terminal the plane stopped for a minute... I looked out to the right on the grass bordering the runway and there were a couple of Upland Sandpipers staring at the Jet.... it was pretty comical....

Friday, April 20, 2012

First Photo - Not too shabby!!

Got an email from my lifelong friend and birding buddy since we were 7yrs old.... His new 7D and Canon 100-400L lens had arrived and he sent me the first picture he took.... I am impressed!! I look forward to seeing his many future bird pics with this nice setup!!   Great Job Mick!!  click to enlarge

Northern Waterthrush.... Metro

Quick run to Metrobeach today was productive for two FOY birds... Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (139) behind the Nature Ctr and a Northern Waterthrush (140) on the middle trail.... The Waterthrush was spotted by Tom Heatley and we quickly followed it as it darted across the path.... Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me today.... Tom managed to get some photos of a Virginia Rail that was calling in the marsh and slowly made its way out in the open for us to see.... Look forward to seeing that pic up on the monitor... he was very close...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Semipalmated Plover and Solitary Sandpipers

My daily tour during migration to my hot spots.... Macomb Corners Park had 3 Solitary Sandpipers (135), Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs.... Stoney Creek Metropark Eastwood Beach was good for one Semipalmated Plover (136) near the Lifeguard tower and Cliff Swallows (137) are back and nesting on the Concessions building (thanks Kevin R)... Cliff Swallows were also at the North Dam.... At Wolcott Mills Metropark on the corner of 30 mi rd and Kuntsman, a House Wren (138) was calling....  Nothing new at Holland Ponds but I did manage to get some Butterfly Pics and a Northern Water Snake.... at least I believe thats what it is... I am no Herpetologist.....  click to enlarge
Solitary Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper

Semipalmated Plover

Cliff Swallow

House Wren

Northern Water Snake

Spring Azure

Horace's Duskywing

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pine Warbler - Stoney Creek Metropark

I knew my window for seeing a Pine Warbler (133) this spring was slowly coming to a close... For some reason I don't get them often in Macomb County... Then again, I don't look hard for them in early spring either... When I heard from Kevin Rysiewski earlier in the day that they were at Stoney Creek Metropark, I knew at some point I would have to get over there to see if I could find them.... They were still there when I got a chance to go... at Lakeview Picnic area near the North Dam.... earlier in the day Kevin also had Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher in the same location.... Kevin showed me where he had seen them and sure enough they were there in the pines at the end of the parking lot.... Also stopped at Waldenburg Park in Macomb Twp after my appt this evening and to my surpise an Ovenbird (134) was calling... I think this is the earliest I have ever had them.... what a wierd spring...
Pine Warbler

White-throated Sparrow

Monday, April 16, 2012

So Windy, suprised I got any photos... Broad-Winged Hawk and Dunlin

Took a spin by Wolcott Mills today and had a couple of Hawks flying low across the tree tops... At first I thought they were Red-shouldered, but looking at the banding in the tail, I realized that they were Broad-winged Hawks (129).... Took some shots, almost getting blown over and then as I was leaving the park, a Gray Catbird(130) began singing from the thick brush near the booth at the entrance... I couldn't pissh him to the top of the bush for a pic, but with the wind he was sitting in the middle of the bush... He was the only bird singing..... Glad to see them back...

On the way out of Wolcott I spied an American Kestrel on the wire and took its photo right from my drivers side window.... I love using my jeep as a moving blind...

One more stop before heading home.... Macomb Corners Park.... Yes!!  Dunlin (131) in the pond with Lesser Yellowlegs and one Greater yellowlegs..... Tired of the wind.... birding done for the evening...

The recent influx of Red Admiral Butterflies has been impressive... they are all over my yard and the field behind my house.... click on photos to enlarge...

Broad-winged Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk

Broad-Winged Hawk

American Kestrel

Dunlin (two up front)

American Lady

Red Admiral

Red Admiral

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Post rain birding.... nothing new...

I woke up at 0630 to the sound of rain.... I looked at the radar and decided that I was going back to bed.... The rain stopped around 1030 and I headed out... First stop was Macomb Corners Park near my home...  I have had a few issues identifying some of the Yellowlegs this year with long bills.... Not today... the 7 Greater Yellowlegs in the Mudflats in the park were calling loudly....  I left there and headed toward Metrobeach (Lk St. Clair Metropark) to see if I could find the Pine Warber reported the day before... On the way there, I stopped at the little ponds on Town Centre dr and found 3 Spotted Sandpipers.... Metro was quiet except for 2 Brown Thrashers... No Pine Warbler... 1 Yellow-rumped and a few Hermit Thrush... It began to rain and as I moved down the middle trail behind the Nature Center, I noticed one of the young Great Horned Owls staring me down... LOL.... so I stopped and grabbed a quick pic..... I checked out the mudflats behind Walmart on Hall Rd and they were under water with all the rain.... No shorebird here for a few days.... First day in a while I have not had FOY bird......
Great Horned Owl

Greater Yellowlegs

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Got rained on, but still enjoyed my morning

Birded at Metrobeach Metropark in Harrison Twp this morning (Lake St. Clair Metropark). It rained off and on for most of the morning, so I left the camera in the car... I met up with Tom Heatley and we birded together... There were good numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers and White-throated Sparrows throughout the park. One Sora was calling in the South Marsh.. We managed to see 3 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers on the trails behind the nature center... One Purple Martin (127) was flying over head amongst the many Tree Swallows and Northern Rough-winged Swallows... Again I missed out on hearing a Virginia Rail.... However, we managed to see 9 Wilson's Snipe in the Marsh along the Service Rd.... Several Ruby-crowned Kinglets were also seen.... Near the shore, Tom and I saw an Osprey hovering above the water.... soon it crossed over our heads.... Hermit Thrush continue to be seen in good numbers on all trails....

After leaving the park, radar showed that we only had about 45 minutes of dry weather before the next storm moved in... Tom and I decided to head to the ponds/mudflats near Partridge Creek Mall in Clinton Twp... We parked in the Walmart Parking lot and immediately noticed some "pipers" running thru the Mud... 8 Pectoral Sandpipers (128) and one Lesser Yellowlegs were out in the middle of the flat...  Knowing that  Kevin Rysiewski  needed the Pectorals for his yearly county list, we put out the call... Kevin joined us a short time later... While standing there scoping the pipers, a Greater Yellowlegs came in and landed near the Lesser... very cool... Kevin managed a picture of the two side by side... Tired and wet and feeling chilled... I headed for home.... this coming week should be good.... Photos courtesy of Kevin Rysiewski..  click to enlarge

Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs

Pectoral Sandpipers

Friday, April 13, 2012

Vesper Sparrow and Yellowlegs....

My target when I got out of bed this morning was to find a Vesper Sparrow(125)... Work ended in Romeo this afternoon, so I decided that I would cruise thru the farmland of Northern Macomb County until I reached my home in the 26 mile area... I stopped every quarter mile or so when the habitat looked good, and listened for a Vesper Singing.... It only took about 5 miles (LOL) before I heard one on Kuntsman Rd and 29 mile... It was sitting in an Oak on the edge of a field that is used as a runway for a Skydiving plane.... It sang for a bit and then descended into the field and foraged not to far from me...

Next stop was to Macomb Corners Park where I had seen Lesser Yellowlegs the night before while walking with my wife... I did not have my binoculars or my camera, so I went back to look for and photograph the Sandpipers... Now the dilemma... One has a shorter bill, one has a longer bill... It was hard to tell size from across the marsh/mud flat.... although they appeared smaller.... I got home and looked at my pictures and there is a noticeable difference in the bills.... Hmmmm, interesting.... (update: general consensus among those I consulted is that they were indeed Lesser Yellowlegs.)

I also spotted a Spotted Sandpiper (126) today in a little pond near 21 mile Rd and I-94... first of the year for this bird.... they have not arrived behind the house yet.....

Vesper Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Flock of Wilson's Snipe.... A first for me....

My target today was Wetzel State Park... chosen because its near my home... As I was driving down Werderman Rd I looked to my left... in a small area in the field where a small area of water had collected, I spied a group of Sandpipers....  Pectorals? Dunlin?  As I got closer, I noticed the long bills.... pulled out the binoculars and there were 8 Wilson's Snipe sitting out in the open in the field... I shot a few pics right from the driver side window of my car.... I have plenty of Snipe behind my home in the spring, but I can't say I have ever seen them in a flock.... very interesting to say the least...
Wetzel itself was just the usual... Highlights included 6 Great Egrets, the most I have seen this year in one location. Savannah Sparrows were singing loudly from every open field....

After I got home and ate dinner, the Wife and I took a walk at Macomb Corners Park near my house... They built a new mile long walking trail that cuts thru the woods.... Macomb Twp has done a real nice job with this park... They left a Marsh/mudflat untouched and built the trail around it... I have been spying it for a week waiting on some shorebirds to appear.... As luck would have it, on my walk tonight I came across two Lesser Yellowlegs (124) wading in the mud... No camera with me, but I am going to go back tomorrow if time allows.... click to enlarge
Great Egret

Savannah Sparrow

Wilson's Snipe

Wilson's Snipe

Wilson's Snipe