Friday, July 31, 2009

Robert H. Long Park - A Kingfisher Day!

2009-07-31 10:00am - 12:00 pm Robert H. Long Park

Every day is different! Today Judy and I went to Robert Long Park, and were immediately rewarded with the sighting of a fishing Belted Kingfisher as we left the parking lot! In our prior experience the Kingfisher is one of spookiest and most difficult birds to photograph, so we were overjoyed! As it turns out, we heard and saw them all day. I think there were several because we heard and saw them in several places, but at least there were two that we saw feeding together at once. A truly "Kingfisher Day"! We got our best shots ever!

And, it turned out to be a "Wood Duck Day" as well. In the same "Outcast Corner" where we had previously seen at most two Wood Ducks, we saw at least eight! A whole bunch of kids (really "teens"). Yes (WRT my prior birder's memo), this is my former "ring-cheeked duck".

We caught a couple of new "peeps" (sandpiper things), but I have yet to process the pics.

The confirmed species list follows, and as I play with the pics, I will change a thing or two.

Belted Kingfishers
Killdeer (lots)
Ring-Billed Gulls (locally lots)
Lesser Yellowlegs (one)
Barn Swallows (several - some still feeding nested kids at bridge)
Red-Winged Blackbirds
Pied-Billed Grebe (at least two)
Great Egret (a few)
Double-crested Cormorant ( a couple - normally they are far off on stumps - today I shot them feeding and flying much closer)
Mute Swans (several - as usual)
Cedar Waxwings (occasional)
Wood Ducks (maybe 10-12 - where were they before?)
Canada Geese (lots - of course)
Great Blue Heron (we saw only one - unusual to not see more)
American Goldfinch (uncommon)
Eastern Kingbird (uncommon)
Mourning Dove
Chickadee (three - only seen in forest beyond bridge - but friendly and seemed expectant for feeding)
House Sparrow - Common near entrance (trash birds), but seen actually "working" in other places so I count them
House Wren (heard only - same place as usual just past bridge)
Two new "peeps" (sandpiper things) yet to be determined
Two swimming mammals (muskrat and?)
And a new dragonfly (I put it here especially for "Stylurus" to ID - he has lots of records of new D'flies from there and was kind enough to respond to my "Long blog" previously). Hey! I do not know about anyone else, but when I am looking for birds, any of those "fluttering things" grab my attention! I guess I will just have to walk thru the open door and learn about B'files and D'flies in the process! They are so beautiful!

Disappointingly, the guy (mentioned before in my blog) training his unleashed bird dog was back and active. I thought we might have made a difference! "Not!" I asked him if there were another site where he could do this that was not a nature park, and he replied "Not really". (I know Kensington is only about 10 minutes away...). I guess we had not made a difference after all! He threw his training "baits" into the water at minimally three primary sites we use for birding and flushed all local birds in the process. It is a good dog - it is the owner who needs training. As with most "evaders", he leashes his dog at and near the parking lot where some enforcement person might see him. I say he is another "Big proud macho man" and other unrepeatable things I have learned over the years... At our first encounter today, the unleashed dog ran up to us while we sat on a bench and (fortunately) only slimed Judy's upper forearm (but I was certainly unsure and weaponless other than my camera that I was willing to sacrifice!) at the time! (Photos of dog, owner, and truck license available on request...). Oh, well...

Anyway, it was a great "Kingfisher Day", and a "Wood Duck Day" besides.

No Red-Head today that we saw. And, we met no other birders - hey, it's Friday! Short lunch hour so leaving early is an option!

Yes, we love this place! And, it is so cool that birders frequent it! We got at least 23 species, and undoubtedly missed many more! We heard at least a half-dozen unknown birds sounds.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A 'Long' Red-Head and some comments about birders

We finally saw the Red-Headed Woodpecker at Robert H. Long Nature Park today!

A morning visit to Robert Long was rewarded not only with most of the birds we had previously seen, but also the Red-Head! Not too many new ones today except the Red-Head, but we got updates and verifications to the previous list. (Geez! After shooting the Red-Head, I needed no more!)

Again on this trip we were delighted to meet a few birders.

(BTW, I really appreciated the comments on my previous posting where one of the "lunch birders" I had mentioned in my blog identified himself and offered IDs - he had "been there - done that" at the same time(!) and knew exactly of what I spoke, and to Laurent who so tactfully and kindly suggested my "juvenile cormorant" was a Pied-Billed Grebe!)

This blogging thing is just "so cool" and informative so far! It's really another great medium! (A few years ago, who would have ever imagined!!! Like, imagined not only "the web", but a place to share and get feedback on your personal experiences.)

We first met Dick Sleeman (the guy with the big tripoded camo-Canon - if you ever see him you will know of what I speak) and his protege Matthew. Dick had been reading reports on the birder's list about this park and chose to try it out today for the first time. We really enjoyed some wonderful photographic tips and stories! I had met Dick previously at his great bird photography lecture at WBU in Rochester Hills. It was great to see him "in action" and catch a few more tips.

Then we met a birder walking back from one of the observation decks, and asked him what he had seen. He mentioned the Red-Head. Then (most birders are so cool!), he proceeded to look from our present location back towards where he had sighted the bird, and after awhile, saw the bird and exactly described the location (quite remarkable in itself!) to us. Judy always says "it's in the tree - you know, the tree over there". He knew when I saw it by the sound of my camera shutter firing several times. Thank you, thank you!!!

Dick told me later the birder was Mike Mencotti of Macomb Audubon and SE Michigan birding fame. (Interestingly, I had told Judy when I first saw him "he is an experienced birder" - it was the shoulder harness for the binocs that gave him away). [Hey, where do I get a shoulder harness? I would like to take the stress off my cervical vertebrae!]

"Just another couple of guys" at the Robert H. Long Park we met along the way today.

Oh, I do believe this was "just" another chance meeting! "Just" friends we meet along our birding ways. No presumptions, no reservations about sharing. "Just" helping fellow birders.

I am emphasizing this ("just" - obviously it means much more to me!) because it reminds me so much of the "old days" (think 2 or 3 decades?) when anyone outdoors could be trusted and would share anything they had. Those were my "old days" on the west coast when you could set up your base camp and leave everything in your tent and go exploring for few days and come back to still find everything there. There was always a sharing and respect in nature in "those days". I have not seen or felt this for years!

With the birders we have met in our brief time birding this year, I am finding the same comaraderie and sharing I have missed for many years. The "lesson" here is to for you birders to "just" keep doing what you do! It is something you are "giving forward" (a current term) without regard for immediate benefits, but with a lasting impression for those you encounter!

Thank you Dick, Matthew, and Mike for helping "make our day"!!!

Unfortunately, on a sadder note, we found that a few slats had been kicked out of two observation decks (why???) since a couple of days ago.

And a man on the bridge was teaching his dog to "fetch" in the ponds (we had wondered about the weird whistle...a bird?...). I suggested this was a nature park and was posted with the fact that dogs should be leashed, and he replied "He is in the water". Yeah, right! I further mentioned aquatic birds. I thought it made a difference (... or maybe because Judy and I took photos...), but shortly thereafter we saw him walking the leashed dog (a lovely dog!- golden lab?) (I really thought we had made a difference...) towards the exit, and then unleashing the dog for one more fetch near the entrance. Oh well, we tried... Maybe he will think about it before returning for a repeat.

Yes, a different world now than the "old days" I remember, but I choose to focus on (and remember in the future) the gifts we were given today. We saw some great birds, and we also had some fantastic unexpected sharing encounters with birders. These are the memories I will replay as I fall asleep tonight. These are like my memories of "the old days"! These are my living memories!

I thank all the birders and nature lovers who give me inspiration and share with us on our learning "adventure"!!!

What I have learned about BlogSpot

We finally saw the Red-Headed Woodpecker today!!! I'll tell the story later.

I am still experimenting with BlogSpot. I have learned that BlogSpot tags each new blog with the posting date, and displays blogs in date order. What this means is: if I try to go back and add blogs discussing dates past, it will tag them with the current (posting) date. And, being somewhat "Monk-ish" by nature (a reference to a cable TV show), this will destroy my perception of the continuity I wish to maintain and display.

So I think that I must post a brief note (any brief note) about what I want to share on or near the date I want to have in the blog-record, then I can go back and edit it and add photos at my leisure and it will still retain the posting date. (So far it seems to work - I have edited blogs posted previously and BlogSpot retains the original posting date.)

At least that is what I have observed.

I should also note that I really enjoy the many birder's blogs that have inspired me to take on the techno-challenge to start and update my own!

So after having said that, I will proceed and talk about our uncommon woodpecker sighting in the next (more recent) blog-world posting.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Robert H. Long Nature Park - Commerce Twp. - MI

2009-07-24 10:00 am - 12:30 pm

Judy and I returned to Robert Long Park for another try at seeing the Red-Headed Woodpecker and Black-Crowned Night Heron we missed last time. Again we saw neither. But again, we had a wonderful time and added a new bird or two.

Here is the species list:

Canada Geese (lots!)
Great Egret (several). We were able to come fairly close to one who was feeding. Great photo ops!
Great Blue Herons (several)
Barn Swallows (nesting in the bridge and pavilion - some babies, but the babies have mostly left)
American Robins
Northern Flicker (one juvenile)
Red-Winged Blackbirds (common)
Ring-Billed gulls (lots)
Killdeer (several)
Mute Swans (several). It was interesting to get some pics with its wings sread out. You can really see that it was probably a swan that inspired artists' conceptions of angel wings!
American Goldfinch (uncommon)
Mallards (lots - lots of juveniles)
Mourning Doves (uncommon)
Double-Crested Cormorants(five adults sitting on stumps)
Pied-Billed Grebe

Cedar Waxwings (two)
Wood Duck? (young male)
Tree Swallows (a few - localized)
Phoebe or Wood-Peewee (pics too fuzzy to ID - I'll call it a "peephe" until I delete it)
Juvenile Brown-Headed Cowbird (I thought it was a House Finch with a weird beak))
House Wren (very vocal!)

Lesser Yellowlegs (a sandpiper guy)

I thought we finally heard the "Drink your tea" bird, but it only had one final note, and not the repeated last note I seem to find for the towhee usually associated with this mnemonic. (I'll have to keep searching...)

And, we saw a muskrat, several turtles, dragonflies (many species), butterflies (one monarch, and white ones).

This is a great place with several habitats, although the aquatic birds are most abundant.

It was interesting to see a couple of birders in business casual taking a lunch break here. What a great way to take lunch!

Another birder we met (who seems to frequent the spot) said he had not seen the Red-headed Woodpecker for a week or more, but told us where he normally saw it.

We plan to return periodically to see what shows up! What fun!

"Dr. Bob"

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Holland Ponds Update

It was a Cedar Waxwing Day!

Each trip seems to be so different!

When we went to Holland Ponds today, it was the Cedar Waxwings that were most abundant and prominent. I think juveniles must have contributed to the prominence. Many waxwings had no fear. It seemed as if every posing bird we shot was a waxwing! We have some great pics of these beautiful birds. (I will post them later...). Last time we went there (last week), the Mourning Doves were the most abundant bird, and we saw none today! It really amazes us that within a few days the avifauna changes so dramatically!

(more later...)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Trying to add a pic

This is a great pic of Judy and I taken at Christmas time a couple of years ago! It is appropriate to start my "blogging" with the wonderful woman who tolerates my frequent absentia into cyberspace!
Note - both of us have lost weight since then!
I just created a"blog"!!! This is a test!