Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The south winds giveth ...

and the south winds taketh away.

I've tried April big days most years for the last several years and if there's one thing that's become clear it's that it's utterly pointless to attempt it if there's been North winds.  We've had South winds for the last 36 hours or so which had me more optimistic than some years.  They were a bit strong though, it was hard to hear much at night in the open areas and the strong wind during the day brought in 80 degree temps that just shut down activity by midday.

That being said, they blew in a heck of a bird to start the day off.  Rhoda and I were scanning at New Buffalo as the sun was trying to fight through the haze and I picked up a bird flying low over the water well out.  It wasn't a shape I've encountered in Michigan, initially I tried to pigeon-hold the long-narrow wings into some kind of large shorebird.  As it got closer, still flying straight at us, the head appeared much paler than the body and I started wondering if it was a Hudwit even though it really seemed that even with the odd angle that I should be getting a wingflash.  Eventually it crossed a threshold where it became clear it was a Plegadis ibis; what had seemed like a pale head was the white face head-on.  It got close enough that I was able to get ID-able photos; these are cropped though not lightened or sharpened or contrasted.
I adjusted the F-stop on the camera before the next series.
I think this is the 3rd record of White-faced Ibis for Berrien, I did see the last one, a bird that Tim found at 3 Oaks so this bird was a nice year list addition and one for the Self-found list.

There was some very dramatic lighting early in the morning, there was frequent heat lightning to the north for most of the nocturnal period.  In the morning at New Buffalo there was a large thunderhead to the north and west with the Sun trying to burn through some haze behind us.  Some TV's lifted off into the lighting, I'm going to have to work on my sunrise/sunset settings as this shot doesn't do justice to the yellow-orange backdrop.

We had a lot of the local breeders back and easier to find than most years.  Warbling Vireo, RB Grosbeak, Baltimore Oriole, Catbird, Kingbird, and several others were in multiple places.  We didn't quite get enough migrants however.  Some of the more interesting ones included Gray-cheeked Thrush (we didn't get Swainson's):
... Pine Warbler...
... and an Orange-crowned that wouldn't come out in the open, but did show his orange crown:

With the vegetation not very leafed out at all, hopefully I'll be able to get out when the first big push of migrant warblers comes through before everything is obscured again.


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