As I ventured into the park heading towards Meig's Point, an adult Red-tailed Hawk passed overhead. I couldn't stop to photograph him as I lost him over the trees. However, I was granted an opportunity with a juvenile. The crows were far less amused with his presence than I was and I thanked the bird for his generosity in letting me see him. Call me crazy but I do believe in thanking the animals for gracing me with their presence. People think it nuts and the truth of the matter is I feel very strongly that Nature is full of beauty if one opens their eyes and their minds to it - and I am thankful for it.
There was not a lot to see as the clouds rolled in and the waves were pretty high that made photography difficult. So, good conversation and birding with Scotsman Robert Hutton and his friends became the true highlight of this venture outside. He conversed with folks walking their dogs bringing a smile to all of our faces and we chatted about different birds we had seen and about techniques to photograph birds. With the internet, it's anonymity many times - people chatting from across great distances online sharing pictures and stories and never really knowing who is on the other end. I've been out to Hammo twice and have been able to put a few faces to names now.
The weather wasn't exactly great for birding but it was nice to just get outside for a bit. Along the way, we passed a Northern Mockingbird in a tree. Robins were working the thawing ground for tasty tidbits. Gulls flew in the air and we were able to snag a glimpse of a female Merlin hunting while a Red-shouldered Hawk passed by on the other side. A pair of Red-breasted Mergansers floated in the water off the Moraine trail with a pair of scaups off in the distance. The Nature Center parking area proved good again for viewing Horned Larks, a few Snow Buntings and two Lapland Longspurs. Unfortunately, the winds were pretty strong to cause digiscoping problems. It was too hard to even use my Sigma lens as these birds are very skittish and approaching closely is rather difficult to do.
With the clouds rolling in, the winds, and a definite chill in the air, it became a bit too cold for me to continue on. I was happy to at least have the chance to get outside and share some time with fellow birders and to look forward to another weekend to do more exploring with some excellent birders - or on my own!