Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Common Redpolls in the Yard 11/13/2018

   Common Redpolls showed up in my yard today quite a bit earlier than last year's December 26 arrival.

A Fox Sparrow has been lingering since Sunday

 Pine Siskins have also been hitting the feeders in singles and pairs.
The Rock Wren at Ludington State Park was still hanging around on November 5.

  Its also getting late for White-crowned Sparrows but an adult and 2 immatures were at the State Park feeders on November 9.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Rock Wren - Ludington State Park 11/02/2018

  Ludington has been drawing in the rare birds for the past 10 days.  First of all, the Ash-throated Flycatcher that was found at Ludington State Park on October 26 was showing well, up until at least yesterday.  Then earlier this week a Little Gull was hanging with the Bonaparte's Gulls at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.  The hot streak continued today when Andrew Simon and Lori Schutz found a Rock Wren hanging around the beach house at the aforementioned State Park.

    I got word of the Wren as I was in the checkout line while grocery shopping, when I received a text from Dave Boon nearly simultaneously as Dave Dister was leaving me a voicemail.  The unprecedented Double Dave Alert had me racing home to grab the camera and head to the park.

  Luckily when I arrived at the park, the target bird was still right at the beach house. It spend the next 3 hours prowling along snow fences on the beach and the first row of dunes east of the parking lot before eventually returning to beach house.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Little Gull Ludington WWTP 10/30/2018

    Around Noon today Reuben Yoder and Jacob Hostetler picked out a single Little Gull among the few hundred Bonaparte's Gulls.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Ash-Throated Flycatcher - Ludington 10/27/2018

  On Thursday Matt McConnell found an Ash-throated Flycatcher on the Island Lake Trail at Ludington State Park.  I made an unsuccessful attempt to see the bird around 6pm Friday. 

   Late this morning I made it back out there and found the bird to be quite cooperative once it was relocated.

   As I was finishing my photo-shoot with the flycatcher I received a call from Dave Dister who had located a possible Black-legged Kittiwake at the Wastewater Treatment Plant in Ludington.  Dave was still locked on the bird when I arrived with a small caravan of birders who followed from the State Park.  Upon further review it has been determined that the bird in question has been downgraded to a Bonaparte's Gull.

Monday, October 15, 2018

First Half of October Update

Tennessee Warbler
   The first half of October had a mix of warblers and sparrows passing through the yard.
White-throated Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow
   The Eastern Towhee seen below was the 108th species to visit the yard this year.
Eastern Towhee
Full cheeks give this chipmunk a bobble head look

  On October 7, a trip around the lower reservoir road at my work yielded an Eastern Phoebe...
 … and a few bucks.
10 points.....the hard way

More typical rack

    At the south pier of Ludington Harbor a Dunlin was seen on October 8.

   On Saturday October 15th a pair of plovers were active on the pier.
American Golden Plover
  Also on Saturday, a single Snow Goose was hanging out with a large flock of Canada Geese in Pere Marquette Lake at Peter Copeyon Park.

   The highlight on Sunday at Lake Erie Metropark was the first Golden Eagle of the year at the hawk count site.  

Turkey Vulture migration is peaking this time of year at the count.  Over 7000 were tallied on Sunday.

    The Goodyear Blimp took off from Grosse Ile Airport where it spent the night, after hovering over the Michigan-Wisconsin game in Ann Arbor on Saturday.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Throwback Thursday - The Strangest Photo I've Ever Taken

    Thirty years ago this past week on a trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I set up to take a series of photos to capture a wildfire-enhanced sunset with the picturesque Corolla Lighthouse in the foreground.   The wildfires were nowhere near the east coast but were actually the historic 1,000,000 acre blaze in and around Yellowstone National Park nearly 2,000 miles away.  The fire blackened over half a million acres within the park boundary or 63% of the park.

   The smoke and ash was carried eastward by the jetstream and created a milky haze that made its way to the Atlantic coast. The airborne particulate created colorful sunrises and sunsets across the US for weeks.

    In that summer of 1988 I had recently purchased a set of Cokin Filters and experimented with them in conjunction with Kodachrome and Ektachrome slide film.  The photo below shot on Kodachrome 200 was the startling result of stacked Cokin red, orange and yellow filters handheld in front of a $99 Kmart 500mm f/8 lens.

 I had one of those 'I remember exactly where I was' moments in life when I first previewed the box of processed slides in my Chevy Nova parked outside of the old Positive Images photo shop in Riverview. The inexplicable way the rim of the sun is darker than the surrounding sky was and still is jaw-droppingly confusing.  In the weeks following the North Carolina trip I tried to duplicate the effect using the same setup but never came close. 
   The photo above was copied in a cheap slide duplicator to convert it to a digital format.  The digital version was not enhanced in any way and in fact pales slightly compared to the original slide.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Warblers in the Yard 9/22/2018

   On Saturday I had a couple waves of warblers drop out of the sky to the oak and maple canopy of my yard.  The first group consisted of roughly 30 birds that included
Wilson's Warbler

Northern Parula

Black-throated Green Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler

Tennessee Warbler
    Later a group of about twenty warblers stopped by to feed on insects in the trees.  The remarkable thing about this group was that almost all of them were Nashville Warblers.  A single Blue-headed Vireo tagged along with the warblers.
Blue-headed Vireo
  The Wilson's and an unphotographed Orange-crowned Warbler brought the 2018 yardlist up to 107 species.