Tuesday, February 4, 2014

February 3-4th: Waterfowl & Snowies

The days are getting longer, slowly...Part of me dies a little bit during the winter here. But birding has been able to alleviate some of the pain and get me behind the lens more than I would in the past. This past weekend, I spent some time birding with my dad for his birthday. We decided to check out the Huron River for stretches of open water in hopes of photographing some waterfowl. We arrived at a city park in Ann Arbor and immediately saw a wealth of ducks. We spent some time there and also spent some time just below a dam on the river.

Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), Island Park, Washtenaw County, MI
Redhead (Aythya americana), Island Park, Washtenaw County, MI
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), Island Park, Washtenaw County, MI
The Guy Who Inspired Me about Nature
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor), Barton Dam, Washtenaw County, MI

Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator) Island Park, Washtenaw County, MI
It was a fantastic day, anytime my dad and I can get out and shoot is great. The next morning I arose early and headed north. I swung through a state game area in hopes of seeing some shrikes and hopefully eagles. I however, spotted a completely different bird which had been hanging around the spot for a few weeks.

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus), Immature Female, Gratiot County, MI
It was a pleasant surprise, making this the fourth county I've seen snowies in this winter. She looked half asleep, squinting from the bright morning sun reflecting off a fresh blanket of snow. I moved on around the area, trying to get close enough to a shrike to get a decent photo, I did not succeed. Shrikes are skittish little birds which quickly flee when approached. I did see one individual along a road, as well as a few skittish Rough-legged Hawks. I also managed to catch a glimpse of a male Northern Harrier perched at ground level before it flew off.

Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus), Adult Male, Gratiot County, MI
It was a decent haul for a 20 minute swing through the area. Later on in the afternoon, I decided to drive out to some farm country because of the fantastic light to try and get some nicely lit photos of snowies. There is one particular agricultural area that is 1-2 square miles in size which has at least two snowies visiting. As I came up to a good road around 4:00 PM, I noticed a large white bird top a low utility pole.

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus), Immature Female, Isabella County, MI

I wish I wouldn't have been as tight as I was when she flushed, as this photo would have been truly wonderful had I been zoomed out a bit, but the result is still nice I think. She flew over the horizon I disappeared, I would see her about an hour later but didn't stop to bother her. I drove a little further down the road, and spotted another owl sitting atop the same antenna I saw one utilizing back on January 21st, which you can read about in the blog post Sunset in Snowy Country.

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus), Immature Male, Isabella County, MI
It's amazing how much of a difference good lighting can make when photographing these birds. At first I was pretty sure this was the same bird I saw a few weeks ago, but less then 100 yards down the road I spotted another owl sitting atop a large silo.

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus), Immature Male, Isabella County, MI
I was pretty astounded to see three snowies utilizing a fairly small area, food must be abundant. It was a fantastic way to close an awesome two day stretch and to get behind the lens. February usually marks the last majorly harsh winter weather we have, as I've seen tiger salamanders in the first week of March the past two years. Though that doesn't mean the same will go for this year. Here's to the approaching warmer weather, though these owls are pretty awesome for now. Until next time...

No comments:

Post a Comment