Sunday, February 28, 2010

Northern Shrike

I went to the Novi Wetlands this morning and was finally able to get some photos of the Northern Shrike that has been wintering there. Before I had only seen the bird when I forgot my camera and this time he was very flighty so I wasn't able to get very close.

Afterwards I went over to Robert Long and could only find an American Black Duck and a Hooded Merganser with the Mallards. The Song Sparrows were singing in the reeds and I was able to find one of the Swamp Sparrows as well. Hopefully it is a sign that spring will be here soon.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Thumb Birding

I birded the Thumb today starting at Port Huron where I saw several Long-tailed Ducks along with Common and Red-breasted Mergansers, Common Goldeneyes, and Buffleheads. The Long-tailed Ducks were much closer than in November and I was able to manage a few shots despite the gray skies. Here is a shot of a male and female.

I then headed up toward Port Sanilac and was surprised to see that most of Lake Huron was not frozen. I was able to pull off a bit after Lexington where I saw a Bald Eagle and three Long-tailed Ducks fly by. After this I headed for the dump east of Carsonville in the hopes of seeing the Glaucous-winged Gull that was seen there last Friday and Saturday. Not surprisingly, I couldn't relocate the bird, it didn't help that a Cooper's Hawk flushed all of the gulls after I had been looking at them for just ten or so minutes. The only gulls I was able to count before this were about a hundred Ring-billed and six Glaucous Gulls. The trip to the dump was not a waste however, as a Dark Morph Rough-legged Hawk provided some great views and photo opportunities.

Also notable were the large flocks of Wild Turkeys of about twenty that I encountered twice in Sanilac County and once in Tuscola County where there was also a Light Morph Rough-legged Hawk. It was a pretty enjoyable day of birding, especially as it is February, which I generally consider my least favorite month to bird.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Weekend Birding

This morning I birded Robert Long and the Novi Wetlands. At first glance Robert Long did not look promising as I could only find Mallards. After a minute or so, however, I noticed a bright white spot on the north shore of the pond. When I looked through my binoculars I discovered that I was looking at the bright white throat of a male Northern Pintail. Two of these beautiful birds have been appearing off and on throughout the winter and they seem to have a habit of disappearing for a few weeks and then reappearing just when we are sure they are gone. I tried to sneak up on it without flushing it but was unsuccessful and it flushed with a few other Mallards to land out of camera range in the pond. I did manage one decent flight shot though.

Sparrow variety was decent as well; I had six or so American Tree Sparrows, one Song Sparrow, and one Swamp Sparrow. It seems that my luck has run out on seeing the Shrike at the Novi Wetlands, I failed to see it for the third or fourth straight time after seeing it two straight times. I did manage one decent shot of an American Kestrel.

On Saturday I went on the Detroit Audubon Society field trip to Belle Isle. We had a relatively good day for ducks with two male Red-breasted Mergansers being the highlight for me. I did not see the Long-tailed Duck seen by other members of the group though thanks to a kayaker who flushed the flock of ducks that it was in.

On Friday I drove along Gotfredson and Vreeland Roads and saw many of the same birds that I saw last week, including the Rough-legged Hawk and Lapland Longspurs. I also saw a flock of a hundred or so Snow Buntings and a flock of Wild Turkeys nearby. Here is a picture of one I took on Thursday at Kensington which is now the place to see Wild Turkeys in the winter in Oakland County.
Anyway, nothing terribly exciting but not bad for February.