With Dea Armstrong and Artemis Eyster and the Jackson and Washtenaw Audubon group led by Gary Siegrist and Lathe Claflin, we had a great weekend birding in the Soo. I'll own up immediately to it being a difficult weekend for photographs. None of the photos I offer up here are anything to brag about. I selected these as the most presentable to anchor my blog entry. Late Saturday morning it seemed like the sun might try to break through. No luck. The sky remained low gray all weekend thereby providing terrible lighting.
Arriving Friday afternoon we took the back roads into the Soo and the first bird we saw was this Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) spotted by Dea and perched on the utility pole on the upper M48. It was a very dark bird and we thought it to be a juvenile female.
This young light morph Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus) was near 129 and lower M48. Over the two days we saw approximately ten Rough-legged including two dark morphs.
Before driving into the Soo to check into the motel, this Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor) was seen on Riverside Drive to end the day on Friday. I might add that all three of the above birds were found by the driver, Dea Armstrong. Northern Shrike was also a fairly common bird over our two days.
On Saturday morning after stopping at the power plant for goldeneyes and mergansers, we went to the Sharp-tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus) lek on Nicolet Road. Still needing lots of practice, I captured the above 59 second video of nine distant males dancing on their lek. The video is terrible; again, the high-definition is better and the HD You Tube upload is here for comparison. Again, much more work on processing video required.
Dunbar Forest feeder station had lots of little birds; redpolls, (no Hoary), siskens, nuthatches, chickadees, and one male Pine Grosbeak. The photo above is terrible, but I love the color on this redpoll.
On Saturday, Lathe and Gary relocated this guy perched on the wooden structure out in the middle of a huge field near Centerline Road. This bird was lighter than the Snowy seen on Friday and we thought it likely to be a juvenile male. Even though the owl is but a speck, I do like the composition and color of this photo.
Lathe and Gary relocated the large flocks of both Pine Grosbeaks (Pinicola enucleator) and Bohemian Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus) eating off trees laden with crabapples behind the Dafter post office. The flock of grosbeaks probably offered everyone the best photo opportunities of the trip. This is one of my best photos.
The birds in the photo above are Bohemian Waxwings with one Pine Grosbeak on the left. This was a large flock of perhaps 100 birds. They were skittish and took off sometime shortly after our arrival. We returned on Sunday morning to see them a second time, but before anyone even stepped out of the car, the entire flock again flew off.
The long drive home on Sunday was uneventful. Weather much worse in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area than anywhere in the Soo.