Monthly Archives: May 2013

May 29, 2013 – Still Going

Montrose was fairly birdy this morning, especially for Empidonax flycatchers, American Redstarts, and Common Yellowthroats. Here’s some of what I saw in about an hour and a half:

Lesser Scaup – 1 male in Lake Michigan just off the beach
Horned Grebe – 1 in full breeding plumage just off the beach
Semipalmated Sandpiper – ~50
Pectoral Sandpiper – 1
Semipalmated Plover – 1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo – 1 seen and heard giving the “rain crow” call
Ruby-throated Hummingbird – 1
Olive-sided Flycatcher – 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee – ~5
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher – 6
Least Flycatcher – 3
Willow Flycatcher – 3
Willow/Alder Flycatcher – ~4
Philadelphia Vireo – 1
Blue Jay – ~40 migrating west
Swainson’s Thrush – 3
Veery – 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1
Cape May Warbler – 1
Magnolia Warbler – ~4
Black-throated Green Warbler – 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler – 1 female
Canada Warbler – 3
Wilson’s Warbler – ~6
Ovenbird – 1
Common Yellowthroat – ~15
American Redstart – ~15
Lincoln’s Sparrow – 2
White-throated Sparrow – 1
Orchard Oriole – 1

Blast From the Past – Black Rail, May 30, 1994

Black Rail

Photo by Kanae Hirabayashi (click to see the larger version).

On May 30, 1994, Chicago birder Kanae Hirabayashi found a Black Rail at Montrose. The bird put on quite a show for the dozens of people who saw it, walking around in the open and giving mouth watering looks. This bird was a lifer for many birders, including myself, and I haven’t seen one since. On a side note, all of the rails that have been recorded in Illinois have been seen at Montrose.

Digiscoping With a Questar

Digiscoping – The practice of using a digital camera with a telescope for magnification.

In March, 2003, I bought a Fujifilm A303 digital camera to use with my Questar telescope for photographing birds and other wildlife. The Fujifilm A303 is basically a point-and-shoot camera that doesn’t have many bells and whistles, which is just as well – the less time I have to futz with the camera’s settings the more time I can concentrate on taking pictures. Besides, the camera does a reasonably good job of automatically adjusting the Fstop, shutter speed, and other settings.

Digiscoping with a Questar

Photo by Kanae Hirabayashi

The most popular camera that birdwatchers use for digiscoping is one of the Nikon Coolpix models. I decided against buying a Coolpix because of the cost and the fact that it’s a big, bulky camera that almost requires an adapter to use with a telescope. By comparison, the Fujifilm A303 is small and using it with my Questar is fairly straightforward and easy: I center and focus the subject in my scope and hold the camera up to the eyepiece and shoot. Unfortunately the resulting images aren’t always stellar so an image editing program such as Photoshop is necessary to make corrections.

The main problem I have with using the camera with my Questar is that there’s a perceptible delay between depressing the shutter and recording the image, a problem that doesn’t occur with SLRs or high-end digital cameras. This delay is most noticeable (and most annoying) when a bird moves out of view just before the image is recorded. Another problem is that the autofocus on the camera sometimes gets confused about what exactly to focus on. This happens, for example, when I’m trying to photograph a bird in a tree and there are branches between the camera and bird. The resulting image has the bird slightly out of focus but the branches in focus. Finally, photographing flying birds is almost impossible – it’s simply too hard to follow a flying bird with the scope and hold the camera at the same time. Despite the shortcomings, I’ve had good results (and good luck) photographing birds and insects with this camera/scope arrangement.

Update

My Fujifilm A303 digital camera died in July, 2007. In August I purchased a Fujifilm A610 digital camera, which is similar to the A303 but has more megapixels (6.3 versus 3.2) and a larger LCD. In November, 2007 I lost my A610 and I bought a Fujifilm A820 to replace it. Hopefully I won’t lose this one.

May 21, 2013

There were decent numbers of birds this morning. Last night’s south winds did us some good. Flycatchers seemed to be everywhere. Warblers were dominated by American Redstarts, Magnolia, Wilson’s and Common Yellowthroat. Most sparrows seemed to have pulled out. Here’s some of what I saw in about an hour and a half:

Blue-winged Teal – 2, pair
Black-bellied Plover – 1
Semipalmated Plover – 2
Ruddy Turnstone – 2
Dunlin – 2
Sanderling – 2
Semipalmated Sandpiper – ~15
Ruby-throated Hummingbird – 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee – ~8
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher – 3
Alder Flycatcher – 2
Willow Flycatcher – 2
Alder/Willow Flycatcher – ~8
Least Flycatcher – 3
Eastern Kingbird – ~10
Cliff Swallow – ~8
Bank Swallow – ~10
Eastern Bluebird – 1
Veery – 2
Swainson’s Thrush – ~5
Gray-cheeked Thrush – 2
Cedar Waxwing – ~60
Chestnut-sided Warbler – 1
Magnolia Warbler – ~15
Black-and-white Warbler – 1
Black-throated Green Warbler – 1
Bay-breasted Warbler – 1
Mourning Warbler – 2
Kentucky Warbler – 1 in the Magic Hedge
Canada Warbler – 1
Wilson’s Warbler – ~20
Common Yellowthroat – ~20
American Redstart – ~25
Bobolink – 1

May 14, 2013 – South Winds Rock!

Montrose was fairly busy this morning. Obviously last night’s south winds brought in some birds. There were good numbers of Savannah and White-crowned Sparrows and a notable influx of American Redstarts and Common Yellowthroats. Overall warbler numbers and diversity were low though. Here’s some of what I saw in about an hour and a half:

Common Tern – 3
Green Heron – 1
Turkey Vulture – 1 flying south. A good bird for Montrose in the spring.
Black-billed Cuckoo – 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 1, a good bird for Montrose at anytime
Eastern Wood-Pewee – ~6
Least Flycatcher – 3
Alder/Willow Flycatcher – 1
Eastern Kingbird – ~6
Great Crested Flycatcher – 1
Red-eyed Vireo – 1
Warbling Vireo – 1
Marsh Wren – 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 2
Wood Thrush – 1
Veery – 2
Gray-cheeked Thrush – 1
Swainson’s Thrush – 2
Gray Catbird – ~20
American Pipit – 1
Cedar Waxwing – ~12
Tennessee Warbler – 1
Orange-crowned Warbler – 1
Nashville Warbler – 2
Northern Parula – 1
Cape May Warbler – 1
Magnolia Warbler – ~5
Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1
Black-and-white Warbler – 3
Blackburnian Warbler – 1
Black-throated Green Warbler – 1
Palm Warbler – 2
Wilson’s Warbler – 1
Northern Waterthrush – 2
Common Yellowthroat – ~15
American Redtstart – ~15
Scarlet Tanager – 1
Clay-colored Sparrow – 1
Savannah Sparrow – 50-100, everywhere, in the dunes, in the meadow, in treetops
Lincoln’s Sparrow – ~10
Swamp Sparrow – ~20
White-crowned Sparrow – ~75
White-throated Sparrow – ~15
Rose-breasted Grosbeak – 3
Indigo Bunting – 1
Bobolink – 3
Orchard Oriole – 1

Warm-Up

Another cold morning at Montrose with very few birds. A nice warm-up is on the way and Wednesday and Thursday look promising. Stay tuned!