Thursday, March 16, 2017

Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch 3/16/2017

  March is the beginning of raptors passing through Michigan from their overwintering sites to their summer breeding grounds. Around the middle of this month eagles and some large hawks make a significant push along their favored routes.  As they pass north through the lower peninsula they are funneled toward the Straits of Mackinac in order to navigate to the UP and points beyond. 
  Today I traveled to the Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch in Mackinaw City in hopes of observing this yearly phenomena. 

Here are some photos taken from the watch location.
   More than 260 Golden Eagles have been counted in the month of March in each of the last two years.

Golden Eagle
   This Bald Eagle was determined to be one of a local pair.

Rough-legged Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk
  Finally an update on the planet Venus.  We are just 9 days from Venus moving from the evening sky to the morning sky.  It now displays a 4% illuminated crescent the spans almost on arc minute in diameter (for reference the Moon is 30 arc minutes in diameter).

Friday, March 10, 2017

Snowy Owl, Mason County

  Dave Dister left a message on my phone about 11 Ross's Geese initially found by Linda Scribner in Free Soil Twp, Mason County.  By the time I arrived at the location on US-31 the only geese at the location were Canadas, but a Snowy Owl was a nice consolation prize. 
   I later refound the Rosss' a couple of miles south on Fountain Rd they were too far out in a field to even get an ID photo.  Here the consolation birds were Rough-legged Hawks.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

What Iss It?


   At first (through maybe ten) glance(s) the above photo appears to be an empty or extremely underexposed black field.  It is neither.
   Here is the technical data of the image....
                                                Time/Date.........0643 AM/March 4, 2017.
                                                Exposure..........1/1250 sec @ f/16 at ISO 2500
                                                Focal Length ..700mm (500mm x 1.4x teleconverter)
                                                Camera.............Canon 5d Mark IV

  This version of the photo highlights the location of the subject.

   A closer crop reveals there actually is something in the photo. But what? A planet?

    No.  A tighter crop shows the subject has an irregular shape to it.
   A plane?
  Nope, it's the International Space Station.  The 356' wide object was 264 miles from my driveway when I took the handheld photo.  I'm somewhat pleased with the result that I was able to attain with  my manually-focused lens at an effective 700mm focal length (500mm lens with a 1.4x teleconverter).

   Things closer to my house than the ISS was when I took this photo....
                           Wrigley Field Chicago, IL.............153 miles
                           Ford Field Detroit, MI...................204 miles
                           Fort Wayne, IN..............................209 miles
                           Crane Creek SP, OH......................231 miles
                           Dubuque, IA..................................236 miles
                           Point Pelee NP Ontario.................243 miles
                           Copper Harbor, MI........................251 miles
                           Winona, MN..................................260 miles

Friday, February 24, 2017

Finches on Ice

  From what I hear the forecast afternoon high for my old neighborhood today is expected to be in the upper 60's.  Not so here.  This morning I woke at 5 AM to flashes of lightning that accompanied a light rain.  I got up to the let the cat in and noticed the temperature was only 31 F which caused the rain to coat the trees with a glaze of ice..  After daybreak I was able to photograph goldfinches as they perched on my iced up oak tree.
    On Sunday I thought I heard Pine Siskins in the yard but was unable to locate them. Tuesday they came down out of the trees and hit the feeders.  Today they posed for photos.

  On Tuesday the local Red-shouldered Hawks were calling as they soared overhead

    Over the weekend last week I practiced astrophotography with the new camera with shots of the third quarter moon...
 ....and daytime planet Venus.

What Won't People Believe........

........still searching.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Mountain Bluebird Macomb County 12/22/2016

  The Mountain Bluebird at the boat launch at the end of South River road was still present this morning, providing good views and photo-ops. 

  Below is a Pileated Woodpecker that has been visiting the suet cakes in my Ludington yard daily.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pier to Pier Review....Ludington Purple Sandpiper and Manistee Brant 11/22/2016

   Yesterday Van Burmiester found a Purple Sandpiper on the South Breakwater at Ludington Harbor.  I didn't get a chance to look for it then but I was out there soon after sunrise this morning.  Just past the bend of the pier I found the Dunlin that has been hanging out for a couple of weeks now.

  Just after I finished photographing the Dunlin, Dave Dister called and told me that a Brant had been found near the 1st Street Pier in Manistee.  Soon after the call from Dave I found the Purple Sandpiper and was able to get some close shots in good lighting.

Purple Sandpiper

   With the day still young I headed home and picked up my wife and we headed north to Manistee to look for the Brant. When we arrived at the Manistee pier there were a pair of birders, Carl and Judi Manning who had a spotting scope aimed at the wayward goose.  I was only able to obtain distant photos of the bird as it hunkered down near the end of the breakwater.