17 May 2010

Pelee Weekend

There are more pictures, but not more time to process them.

Thanks to the kindness of a friend, I got down to Point Pelee this weekend.  From a birding perspective, it was a definite success; two lifers (black tern, Wilson's Warbler), an immature-or-female Summer Tanager, a possible snowy plover (didn't get close enough to be definitive about this, but much smaller than a killdeer (since some were conveniently present for scale), extremely pale, dark bill, and non-yellow legs), and managing to find a Great Horned Owl.

The owl above is a not-quite-out-of-the-nest Great Horned Owl; the park staff had very kindly marked off the road next to the nest tree (which is well back from the road) with caution tape, and there was a convenient spot to set a scope up.  (The picture is courtesy of the X90's ridiculous zoom, not the scope.  Digiscoping may come, but not yet.)  So there was an excellent view of the not-quite-fledgling; all soft, downy fluff, orange feathers around the mad staring eyes, and large rending beak, the perfect picture of "when I learn how to fly, I'm going to eat your face".

A little further down the road, a small group of birders had managed to pick one of the adult owls out of a wretched thicket of tall maples on the border of the beach, and getting the scope on it was (as seems to be customary with Great Horned Owls) necessary to be sure it really was an owl, and not a tree.

While various people were borrowing the scope to look at that owl, I heard a Great Horned Owl begging call -- stuffing all those bird songs into my music player might be helping after all -- and looked at where the noise was coming from, and there, looking like a badly maintained squirrel nest, was the second and just fledged (reported as having flown the previous day) nestling.  It was even a better scope target; I was very pleased with myself, because so far, my experience of spotting owls is that the people who are good at it seem to be using mystic arts.

That was the Syncra scope's first outing; I am not completely satisfied with the visual back (why is it so completely threaded on the inside?  Is the erecting prism really going in there as co-axial as it ought?) but the performance was splendid.  I could get individual feather detail in the red breast streaks of a yellow warbler at 75x off the top of the marsh observation tower, and have an entirely serviceable (though not usable on top of a timber tower people are running up and down) 107x.  So I'm very pleased about it.

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