Friday, January 22, 2010

A few pictures with the TCON17

I got one year older last week (my age is now a prime it not exciting?, the next time it will happen will be in 4 years.....any guess?), as a result my beloved wife bought me a TCON17, which allows me to multiply my fz28 zoom by 1.7. While I did not expect any miracle from this, I thought it was a great (I mean cheap) way to get better ID shots, and once a while, a cool picture or two to print.

Light was really bad last week, but I could not help trying my new toy in the local park....

A white throated sparrow was my first target, and he was quite cooperative. Despite the terrible light, I managed a couple of acceptable (not by the National Geographic, though!) picture of this cute bird.

In similar light, a surprisingly bright goldfinch

A Tree Sparrow, in much better light. I could not come as close as I wished, but the pictures came out ok.

House finch, in bright light at my work place

I will try to post a more scientific post on the TCON17 in the near future, but so far, I was quite pleased with the results.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

8 reasons to spend the winter in michigan..

1) You learn quite a bit about how to convert Farenheit into Celsius, because of the Arborland mall sign

2) Nobody will steal your car during the night, because it would be just too much work

Which one is mine anyway?

3) Winter keeps you in good shape :

Long Jump to get across the snow piles, in order juste to get food. The alternative is a quarter mile walk around it, on the parking lot.

A little warm up before to go to work in the morning

4) You have the beaches of lake michigan all for yourself (go figure..)

5) You can learn quite a bit of unusual sciences

Strength of material testing (on ice)

6) What's about a snowshoe hike in Waterloo Recreation Area, looking for crossbills?

Can't think about a better place to be, on a sunny day
7) All things considered, there is still a lot more sun in Michigan than in the north of Europe

Not the best place in the US, but still about 2400 hours of sun a year

I grew up in a city located between Paris and Lille....less than 1750 hours of sun a year!

8) Spring eventually replaces winter, and that feels sooo good!

It does not mean there is no snow (picture taken in mid April)!

Monday, January 11, 2010

snow buntings (lots of them)!!!

Bonne Annee!!!!!

Happy new year!!!!

Back from europe, I did not do much birding lately. Mostly took care of my feeder, where I picked up a nice variety of birds on January 1st (12), always a nice way to start the year!! I finally managed to pass the 200 bird for the year in december, in the least glamourous way. I was checking my notes from 2007, and realized I forgot to report a ruffed grouse I flushed while I was orienteering during the spring 2007, in the waterloo recreation area. This forgotten bird was enough to make me reach the 200 mark for the county, which had been my goal for the year 2010.

Yesterday I managed to join the washtenaw audubon society for a field trip, with the goal to pick up a few winter birds for my year list. Redpolls and Pine Siskins have been proven to be totally absent from the south east side of the state this year, so we reported our hopes into snow buntings, lapland longspurs, and possibly a norther shrike that had been reported during the previous week. Another possibility was a freak mockingbird who decided to winter in our county , feeding on frozen berries.

Weather was quite cold as we met on the parking lot of the mall (5-6 Fahrenheit), but the wind shill made it even worst when we reached the most popular winter destination of the county, named Vreeland Road in Superior Township.

The trip started nicely with a HUGE flock of tree sparrows (200-300 of them!!) next to the conservation farm. Too far for a shot, but I took one anyway, on the road....

But everyone forgot about the cold as we reached the best spot...

SNOW BUNTINGS....dozens, hundreds of them, flying around in flock, landing for a few bites of the putrefied pumpkins. We counted at least 300 of them, spotting amoung them a few horned larks and at least 6 lapland longspurs.

The mockingbird and the shrike were nowhere to be seen, but a sharpie was a nice consolation price. That was three birds I did not list last year in the county, so that's a great start for the year!