Sunday, March 2, 2014

Winter is for writing reports...

The record setting winter in southeastern Michigan has kept me indoors more than normal. The up side is that I've had more time to get reports from last year's activities finished. These include the 2013 Hummingbird Banding Report (download a PDF here). Michigan had a record number of Rufous Hummingbirds last year, while Ohio and Indiana both had good numbers as well. Unlike most years, all of them departed by mid-December, apparently sensing what kind of winter was coming.

Adult male Rufous Hummingbird, banded in Westerville, OH

Also available is the Fall 2013 Banding Report from Lake St. Clair Metropark, Macomb Co., Michigan (download a PDF here).

Hatch-year Red-tailed Hawk

And, I have also updated the annual banding results from 2004-2013 (website link here).

Spring banding at Lake St. Clair Metropark is just around the corner, with opening day scheduled for the first weekend in April. Hopefully all our snow will be melted by then, and the banding area won't be flooded to badly.

I did manage to get out a little bit this winter, including a wonderful day at Port Huron on February 19 to observe the Long-tailed Duck spectacle that the near-record ice cover on the Great Lakes has produced there. A few photos from that day follow. Click on the images to view them full size.

 There were a few duck species present on the river, and I ran into a small group  of Canvasbacks very close to the shore, including this nice male.
Male Canvasback at Port Huron

 Slightly greater numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers were interspersed among the Long-tailed Duck hordes. This nice male was close to shore but was a challenge to photograph because it kept dozing off and had its eyes closed most of the time.
Male Red-breasted Merganser

I like the way the wake of this bird seems to reflect the shape and texture of its wispy crest. Artsy...
Male Red-breasted Merganser

My estimate was 25,000 Long-tailed Ducks in about a two-mile stretch of the St. Clair River; less than had been there a week ago, but more than I'd ever seen in one place before. The Coast Guard cutter flushed this group just as I was preparing to take video.
Long-tailed Ducks

There were many opportunities to photograph sitting birds nearby, but I was especially interested in getting some flight shots. This male cooperated nicely.
Male Long-tailed Duck

The landings were especially interesting, as they came in with feet swung forward and tail tips dragging the water.
Male Long-tailed Duck

At first, it looks like it might turn into a graceful landing...
Male Long-tailed Duck

But then they just PLOP breast first into the water, even bouncing once or twice like a skipping stone. Notice the out of focus male in the background of this image trying desperately to get out of the way of the "landing" bird!
Male Long-tailed Duck

A fun day capped off nicely by running into friends, Bob ("Dr. Bob") and Judy Setzer.