Friday, September 14, 2012

Birds and Turtles at Kensington Metropark

Arrowhead with beetle.

Several weeks ago we took a weekend morning and visited Kensington Metropark, a wonderful park not 20 minutes from our house. At 4,481 acres it's a pretty big park. Kent Lake sits in the middle of it, and there's a golf course and 8 mile paved bike path. There's also a farm center, disc golf course, boat rentals and waterpark.

In addition to all of this is a nature center and accompanying nature trails. Wildwing Lake, next to the center, has a heron rookery, and there are birds galore along the nature trails as well as the park in general, an oasis in the midst of urban sprawl.

Male and female red-wing blackbirds at Wildwing Lake.

As is to be expected we generally stick to the nature trails when we visit this park. It sits right off of Interstate 96, and the traffic noise can be overwhelming, especially on the lake. The nature center and trails offer a more secluded and quieter experience.

Kingbird in flight--not bad for a hundred feet or more away! (image is cropped)

A boardwalk with railings provides easy viewing access of the rookery, which is situated on an island in Wildwing Lake. It provided me with a place to rest my camera (this is pre-Canon 60D) to get some shots, since I decided against my tripod. The rookery was empty by this time, of course, but several Eastern kingbirds were putting on a show along the island's shore, gleaning insects.

One common sight on a warm sunny day such as this are painted turtles, sunning themselves on logs and, in this case, water lily rhizomes.

Mr. Grumpy Face!

Another turtle provided a somewhat different view.

As I watched he wiggled and stretched, repeatedly grabbing his shell with his front foot.

Males can be identified by their long claws, which are much longer than the females.

I was excited to catch this cedar waxwing flying over the lake, apparently gleaning insects. I've never seen them do this before, I only know them as fruit eaters.

A female wood duck plied the waters, well hidden in the lilies.

We stopped several times and fed the chickadees. These birds, along with nuthatches, downy woodpeckers and titmice are habituated and will readily come to an outstretched hand with seeds or nuts.

As we made our way around the loop and back towards the parking lot, I caught movement in the understory, and was able to get one quick shot of this bird before it flew off. I had to wait until I got home to identify it. I believe it is a female blackburnian warbler, which apparently is not a common sight at Kensington. I sent the image to the head of the area Audubon Society to see if anyone else comes up with a different bird.

Female blackburnian warbler? We shall see....


  1. simple must have a telephoto!

    1. Sharon, I have a 300mm L series lens with a 1.4x extender, which makes the makes the lens a 420mm. These were shot with just the 300mm. I also crop many of my shots in Photoshop so that the subject is more visible and the composition is better.