So after four days off in row and no real options of skipping town, I finally managed to get out for a short bit today. Hold on - let me clarify that. I finally got out when the sun was up. These past few days, I have been inside doing various things (like hoping my fingers don't bleed from endless hours of guitar playing). Yes, I got out both Saturday and Sunday nights, but the days have been cloudy and dreary. No real motivation to get out, right? With today slipping away, I needed to get out for short time - clouds or not.
My first objective was to head out to the Pointe Mouillee State Area Headquarters. I was hoping to get a shot or two of the American Pipit that has been hanging out in the area. Boy, did it cooperate! At one point, this tail-bobbing beauty was basically ten feet from my car window. One could not have asked for a better study opportunity! If I was so inclined, I could have collected a stool sample. I saw him drop one - it was that close!
Is there a big deal here with this bird? You bet! If you check out the maps here, you can see this bird has no business really being in the region. It should have been long gone. For whatever reason, it decided southeast Michigan might be a fine place to spend the winter. According to a buddy of mine, if is survives the winter here, it will the first time a pipit has done it!
After that, I figured heading out the farm fields was worth a go. A buddy of mine had two different Peregrine Falcons out there a few days back. Anything can happen, right? Maybe a Snowy Owl or some nice Snow Bunting shots? I have been trying to get good perched Red-tailed Hawk pics for a good while now. Today, a lot of the chips fell in place.
As I was driving down a back road with lots of shrubs and such on the shoulder, I saw him vault from the ground (a missed kill?) and land on the gate (that is a gate in the pic, not a fence). The vegetation blocked his view of me once I cleared the "driveway". I turned the car around so he would be on the driver's side, got the camera ready, and crept forward. When I cleared the branch that I knew would be a problem, I stopped the car and started banging away on the shutter.
In The Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo points out that the Empire's ships always dump their garbage before they make the jump to light speed. I would presume that this makes them lighter for travel (yeah, they are in space, but with work me here, okay?) Ultimately, birds of prey do the same thing - they dump their garbage before they go to light speed. They will often poop before they go airborne. If they poop in a standing posture, it will make a big mess all over thier tail feathers, right? The solution? Lean forward and lift the tail! I knew when the tail came up, I was gonna lose him. I did, but not before I snagged the image. A split second after this pic (and the unseen poop) was popped, he parted. (Yes, it is a Red-tailed Hawk. It is simply immature. If it lives long enough, it will get the brick red tail feathers in the coming months.)
Speaking of poop, beer #705, the Raspberry Wheat from the Big Buck Brewery, just doesn't cut it. I have been drinking it as I type and I am not impressed. Looking like apple juice with a head (short-lived, by the way), the aroma is obviously fruity. Hardly a surprise. But the taste is just that bitterness and yuck that I find so common with fruity beers. It is hard to describe. Fortunately, I had some cheese on hand to make it more palatable. A two at best.