Copper Harbor, MI - 12 Oct 2007



I had the opportunity to travel to Houghton, MI to give an AFM talk to the Material Science and Engineering Dept. at Michigan Technological University. Arriving at Hancock A/P on Thursday afternoon I spotted a flock of Horned Larks near my rental car. Having no time to bird I headed to the hotel and checked in. Dr. Jarek Drelich picked me up and drove me to the University, where I toured the department and met up with Owen Mills. Owen and I had met earlier this year at Whitefish Point and he invited me to visit after finding out that I too was an electron microscopist.
On Friday morning Owen and I drove up to Copper Harbor to bird Westcoat’s Field. Things were a bit quiet, but we managed Savannah Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Tree Sparrows, and a very pretty Fox Sparrow.

From there we drove down to the harbor, where we had great looks and pics of a Horned Grebe in basic plumage. Farther out in the harbor a pair of female Surf Scoters challenged our ability to digiscope in the gusting winds and light rain. I had left my scope at home this trip, but Owen managed a couple of keepers with his Kowa and Coolpix 995. A drive through Copper Harbor yielded a few more Horned Grebes near shore.

Driving along the Lake Superior shoreline we stopped at a few locations and looked for Purple Sandpipers along the rocks. No luck. Stopping up at Brockway Mountain we saw the first snowflakes of the season, (2) and had (3) Horned Larks on the ground next to the car.
From there we drove to Eagle Harbor and saw a Bald Eagle flying away w/ something ishy in its talons. Stopping at the beach a Horned Lark flew in and landed just a few feet away, and gave us great looks and full-frame pics w/ the D70 and Sigma 400mm f/5.6.

A few dozen Tree Sparrows and Juncos later, we headed back into Hancock, where we stopped at his Mom’s house to look for a Harris’ Sparrow that’s been visiting her feeders the past few days. We dipped twice. White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows were present in abundance, but little else.

After dinner we saw a great Alan Parson’s Project concert at the Rosza Center. I had a great trip and the privilege to spend a couple of days w/ two very special people. Thank you Owen and Jarek for you kindness, hospitality and a great birding day!

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