I spent the better part of two beautiful afternoons wandering the coastline of Old Mission. The weather is very changeable this time of year, but it's fun to grab the good days when you can.
I’ve been trying different telephoto lenses and finally decided on a 100-500 mm lens, which will give me more reach and do better in low light. The lens arrived late last week when the weather was bad and I didn’t want to drive. Saturday afternoon things seemed to brighten up so I ventured out into my neighborhood.
I caught this robin with fruit in its mouth in a nearby tree. Most people associate robins with eating worms, but that’s what they feed their young. They prefer fruit as their favored meal.
Feeling confident in the driving conditions, I headed over to Clinch Park where there are always birds in the marina to practice on. I found this seagull just ready to fly off the breakwater.
It lifted off and I grabbed a good action shot. I headed home, but wrestled with myself whether to drive to Kingsley farm country. It was less than ten miles and wasn’t snowing at all, yet the wind had picked up some.
The trip to Kingsley ended up being uneventful. I entered farm country where I often shoot, and went straight to the Roadkill Cafe where I found two Bald Eagles and two crows feasting on a carcass there.
Fairly soon, a juvenile eagle joined its parents in the eating frenzy. I could tell the wind was picking up and the snow was blowing around.
It wasn’t long before whiteout conditions nearly concealed the eagles. I decided it was time to head back to TC and home.
I stopped to snap this picture of the field where I’d seen a solitary crane a few days earlier. I hoped it had found safety somewhere nearby.
Suddenly, two Sandhill Cranes flew in front of my car from right to left, their loud bugling call waking Gracie from a sound sleep in the seat beside me. My camera had been in my lap so I hurried to get off a shot, capturing just one of them in flight.
Not being able to resist a trip around the block to see where they’d landed, I found them eating corn dregs in a field next to where I’ve seen them in the past. I left then, and had an uneventful drive home. I took 626 pictures that afternoon, giving the new lens a good workout. I’ve decided it’s a keeper.
Daylight Saving Time has arrived and the Spring Equinox will bring the official beginning to spring on Monday at 5:24 pm. Despite these changes, spring doesn’t feel like it’s imminent, especially with the current weather report.
The bird migration is underway, too, yet it’s been a slow start this year. Birdcast is only showing around 2,000 to 3,000 nocturnal overnight visitors.
I’ve been out many times over the last two weeks and have seen little evidence of the migration. I expected to see Red-winged Blackbirds but the ponds were frozen and air silent of their distinctive birdsong. I braved muddy, washboarded roads driving to the Anderson Creek marsh where I knew there would be open water and, hopefully, RWBBs.
On another day, I saw this pair of Trumpeter Swans feasting on corn field dregs. But I was pretty sure they were on a stopover while migrating back to Alaska and other points Northwest.
My last two times out my luck began to turn. Last Saturday, I saw this lone Sandhill Crane in the same field where I always see my favorite pair. Was this one of them? It was standing in the snow and pretty far away so I moved on.
The last migrant I saw was this Red-shouldered Hawk. I hadn’t photographed one before so it was a real treat.
At first I thought it was a Cooper’s Hawk, but Merlin identified it correctly as a Red-shouldered, making it #71 on my Birding Life List.
I got an Audubon alert that the Roadkill Cafe had been restocked and there were five Bald Eagles there. I’d been following this extended family for two years and was eager to see them again. The roadkill has been meager this winter so I was happy to hear the road commission had dropped some roadkill deer on the site. (Sad for the deer, of course.)
It didn’t take long, though, for the fifth eagle, another juvenile, to swoop in from the north.
I am amazed at the tracking abilities of these modern mirrorless cameras. Even as the eagle through through the trees, the camera's focus held on to the flying bird.
Its powerful and steady wing beats sent the young eagle closer to its family in the tree.
It was a wonder how the 10+ pound juvenile with an eight-foot wingspan navigated its way through all the branches!
As it reached its destination, the young eagle dropped its feet as landing gear, ready to grab onto a branch.
The young ones didn’t remain on the tree for long, however, preferring to fly down to the cafe to feed. Soon it was only Pa and Ma Eagle watching over the site.
On clear mornings, I can see a sunrise from my study as the sun returns north. And Saturday night, I saw my first sunset over water in months. I pulled into the roadside park on Old Mission where I often shoot sunsets and there were already several cars lined up. We are all hungry for the sun! I love shooting sunsets over the bay in this first image. But the sun wasn’t there yet, so I panned my camera a bit toward the south and caught the sun. While it wasn’t a perfect sunset, it was still a beauty.