Sunday, December 29, 2013

Red-breasted Nuthatch

   In the winter(non-breeding season) of 2012-13 I had Red-breasted Nuthatches visit my yard over 160 days between Sept.17 and May 16.   Today I had my first visit of this winter.  A review of eBird data shows  a few November sightings but no other reports this month in Wayne County. That doesn't mean there aren't any here now but they are much less numerous than during last winter's irruption.

  This morning I spotted the Bald Eagles pictured below north of Lake Erie Metropark just off West Jefferson.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

White-winged Scoters and Redheads

  Here are some photos of the White-winged Scoters that were found at the power plant in Erie during last weeks Christmas Bird Count

Scoter showing White Wing

Scoters and Redheads

  At the corner of Labo and North Dixie in Berlin Twp about 500 Tundra Swans gathered. Here is a photo of some swans flying in.

Venus gets photobombed

     This morning I stayed over an hour into dayshift.  During the hour working with my buddy Sean, who recently bought a telescope, the conversation turned to planets currently visible.  I mentioned to him that Venus is now a large crescent as it is heading to a January 11th  alignment with the Sun.
    This afternoon I awoke to a beautiful late-December clear sky with a temperature in the mid-40's, a perfect opportunity to try to find Venus during the day.  I found it almost immediately with binoculars but with the smaller field of view of my telescope the low-contrast sky made for a frustrating hour-long search before I finally found it. Once it was located I removed the telescope eyepiece and hooked up my camera, refocused and fired off 4 photos.  When I reviewed the photos, I was shocked to see that Delta Airlines photobombed my Venus portrait by flying a DC-9 through my field of view. 

  Four photos and I was done. I wasn't going to top that.  The funny thing is, is that I never saw the plane even after I noticed I had captured a photo of it.   Although the jet looks like it is low, consider that this was taken through a scope of 2000mm focal length, so the planes angular size is only 9 minutes of arc, less than 1/3 of the 30 minutes of arc that the moon appears. 
  Here is the calculation of the distance to the jet.  9 arc minutes =0.15 degrees.  Sine of 0.15 degrees = 0.00261799.  The length of a DC-9 fuselage is 104.4 ft.  The length of the fuselage divided by the distance to the plane=sine of 0.15.
   So 104.4 ft divided by 0.00261799 (the sine of the angle) = 39877 ft
  Among certain circles there are rumors that I heavily photoshop my photos.  Here is the original photo. You can judge the degree of photoshopping.

Breaking News put my photo on their front page here is the link.

Here is a screengrab of their home page from December 28, 2013.  So if you click on the link above after my photo has been replaced you can check their archives by entering the date above in the archive search in their right hand column.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Same Birds Same Place

   This morning I searched the Antennae Farm area for Snowy Owls.  Didn't  find any but I got some better shots of the Lapland Longspurs and Horned Larks.  This time I counted 12 Longspurs among 50 Horned Larks.

  Below is a photo of two of my co-workers, one works in my department and the other does about 24 hours of work per year and spends the rest of the year judging others.  Coincidentally,  I think he's from Lapland also.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

2013 Monroe CBC Erie, Michigan

   The Monroe Christmas Bird Count took place yesterday in the just about the coldest steadiest light rain possible.  The temperatures hovered in the mid-30's as the rain took just under 4 hours to penetrate my jacket, hoodie, sweatshirt, thermal shirt and T-shirt,   My camera rig held up extremely well thanks to a garbage bag wrapped around my Canon 5D and cannon-like 500mm lens.

  A half hour before the sunless sunrise I joined Allen Chartier and Will Weber at the Mostly Birds (but not always) afterhours headquarters for my 3rd and their 37th CBC at the site. Here are the best  blurry drab poorly lit grainy photos I was able to take.      
Canada Geese five minutes before sunrise

Tundra Swans


Birds of the Day....White-winged Scoters

Summer lingerers  Double-crested Cormorant and Black-crowned Night Heron

Wood Duck

3 year-old Bald Eagle showing lots of white

Belted Kingfisher

Toledo Mudhen

Hooded Mergansers

Redheads, Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Ducks

Adult Bald Eagles

Tree Sparrow

Song Sparrow
   The photos below were taken on Thursday in better lighting at the same location.
Great Black-backed Gulls

    The photo below shows  an imprint in the snow of the primary and secondary feathers of a raptor that swooped down on an unfortunate rodent.
Poor lens selection
    Allen and Will continued on to Erie Marsh which reportedly was not sunny and warm . The highlights there included Swamp Sparrows,  a light morph Rough-legged Hawk, two Northern Harriers, (the male being attacked by a Great Horned Owl) and an adult Red-shouldered Hawk.  I unfortunately had to head home for a towel and a (restless survivor's-guilt interrupted) nap because I had to return to the count site at 4 PM to monitor the bird-attracting machinery until midnight.

  This post was brought to you in part by Carhartt...makers of outdoorwear able to keep you dry at a rate of just under an hour per layer. And Hefty... keeping sensitive electronics dry with a wide-range of low-cost aesthetically pleasing improvisable waterproof  products.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lapland Longspurs at Antennae Farm

  On my way home from work this morning I drove past the Antennae Farm on Haggerman Rd., near the Pt. Mouillee State Game Area and found a pair of Lapland Longspurs within a flock of a dozen Horned Larks.  The poor photo quality was due to bad lighting, distance, thermal waves caused by temperature differential between the car and the ambient 15 degree air and as always operator error.
Lapland Longspur

Horned Lark

Google Map showing Antennae Farm location

Below are some photos taken at Sterling State Park
Eagle on Monday

This morning there were a pair of Whitetail does feeding off the Winterberry(?) trees.

Bipedal Deer

Careful, you might get some in your mouth

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sterling State Park Eagles

 This morning after work I stopped by Sterling State Park and found 22 Bald Eagles on the ice and in the  trees around the south lagoon. 

Six Eagles on ice

Six Eagles in flight

Common Mergansers

Hooded Merganser

Saturday, December 7, 2013

2013 Monroe CBC Reconnaissance

  The 2013 Monroe Christmas Bird Count will take place on Saturday December 21.  This morning I scouted the Lake Erie shore at Erie Rd., one of sites that will be surveyed for the count.  Didn't see a whole lot but as the Lake freezes in the next couple of weeks the birds should be drawn to the open water at this location.
Belted Kingfisher

Two Lesser Black-backed Gulls

 Lesser Black-backed Gull in flight

 Lesser Black-backed Gull with two Bonaparte's Gulls

Close up of  Lesser Black-backed Gull

 Bonaparte's Gull in light snow

 Bonaparte's Gull head in the water

 Bonaparte's Gull