This was the first time we ever went there. Last year as a new birder I kept reading about this special place from postings by Michigan birders. Yes, it is a great place, and I can see where it might really be "magical" at times! I wanted to go before the leaves obscured the birds (so we could take photos) and before the crowds of birders arrived. Mission accomplished! We caught two "lifers" plus a mink never seen where I shot it at the beginning of the boardwalk! Judy called out "Critter!" while I was changing my memory card (go figure, the one time I needed to do this!) and yet I managed to get the camera up before he left!
There were a few people from a local bird club pulling the invasive Garlic Mustard in the area and when I showed my pics to one of them, he walked me around to show it to the rest - including the "Mayor of the Boardwalk" - so I know it was a really cool sighting! Retrospectively, it was probably the presence of the club members off the boardwalk that spooked the mink to run. These are the only good mink pics I ever shot!
There were only about a dozen or so (10 to 20) birders on the boardwalk. It was great! Everyone was very friendly and helpful with what we saw - with the exception of one photographer who kept getting in front of me when I saw a bird. A "fancy lens a...ole" he was. He probably sells his photos. I just wonder if we could ever find out how to sort out reputable photographers from the trash? I was so upset I did not want to ask for his card or website. You probably know the type - if not this specific trash guy.
Anyway, my pics are free as usual. If I ever get a good one that you want, just let me know and I can sell you a higher quality one very cheaply - or just give it to you. I wish I had a fancy lens , but I am quite happy that my 70-300 mm catches some good stuff. Well, the secret is (sssh!): shoot lots, delete 90%, and just go birding and have fun!
Ed Levandowski had told me thatI would get all the Ruby-crowned Kinglets I wanted at Magee. Well, he was almost right! I saw lots! But these guys were so cool, I still want more! Even though I caught the red crown, I would love to see it raised more!
Another "lifer" was the White-throated Sparrow. I saw them a couple of times, but the most interesting thing was watching them "leaf-rustling" near the beginning of the boardwalk. These guys and a House Wren were lots of fun as they picked through the leaves - looking for bugs I think. Besides them, a female Red-winged Blackbird was doing the same thing, but I had seen it before, so it did not impress me so much.
House Wren on tree before "leaf rustling"
OK, so here are a couple of pics for discussion. I thought I was shooting a Great Egret, and just liked the posing and fishing, but after I saw the pics I think I might have caught the mythical "Great White Heron". What do you think? The bill is black or dark on the upper side and is very thick!
"Great White Heron"
Not too many warblers seen yet. A Palm Warbler and a Yellow-rumped Warbler (aka, "butter butt").
Here is the species list:
Purple Martins - lots - nesting at park office ( I shot my best pics so far - they were very close!)
Barn Swallows - lots - nesting at park office
Tree Swallows- lots
Great Egret- 5
Red-Winged Blackbirds - lots
Palm Warbler - 1
Yellow-Rumped Warbler - 2
Double-Crested Cormorants - 6
Ruby-Crowned Kinglets (many) (Lifer!)
Mallard - a few
Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher - few
White-Throated Sparrow - a few (Lifer!)
House Wren - a few
Hermit Thrush - 2
Great Blue Heron - 1
Downy Woodpecker - 2
Grackles - many
Painted Turtles - 5
Mink - 1
OK, to close with a pic, here is the best Painted Turtle pic I ever shot. Cute!
We will be going back next week (mid-week) to see perhaps some "magic" - like the "raining warblers" gestalt some website mentioned for this time period!
Go Bird! Go Magee Marsh!