Thursday, April 20, 2017

Broad-winged Hawk 4/19/2017

   A brief flurry of migrating raptors flew over my yard just after noon yesterday.  The highlight was the first Broadwing of the season.

   Usually passing Sandhill Cranes are heard approaching before they clear the trees but with a new house being constructed a couple lots over this small flock almost snuck by.

  A pair of low flying Turkey Vultures came buy to check on my 17 year-old blind and deaf cat.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Pine Warbler 4/18/2017

    I think I've been hearing at least one Pine Warbler around the yard for the past few days.  Today it came out in the open for a couple of minutes and I was able to get a few shots of it.

  It was only the second Pine Warbler that I've seen from the yard and it arrived six days earlier than last year.
   Speaking of birds that I've only seen twice in the yard, a Eastern Towhee stopped by last week for a photo shoot.

    The local Pileated Woodpecker hadn't visited the yard since February but he came by yesterday to destroy a suet cake.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Ruff in Muskegon 4/7/2017 w/map and video

   Earlier this week a Ruff, a rare Eurasian shorebird was found at the Wastewater Treatment Plant in Muskegon.  I made the trip down there this morning and was able to observe the bird after a birder from Illinois pointed me in the right direction.
  Although the bird's distance was less than ideal, I was able to get decent photos with my 500mm and 1.4x teleconverter.

Barking orders at Lesser Yellowlegs and Dunlin.

  Here is a video of the Ruff feeding.

   Below is a map of the Treatment Plant and a detail showing where the bird was located this morning.
Map of Muskegon Wastewater Treatment Plant

Detail of map showing Ruff's location today
  Here is a map lifted from wikipedia that shows the Ruff's normal range.  The blue represents its non-breeding winter range while the yellow surrounding the Baltic Sea and topping Russia looks like a presidential comb-over.


  Also in the data dump from my camera were some photos taken from my deck on Saturday.

Dark-morph Red-tailed

Rough-legged in April

Local Red-Shouldered Hawk

Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spring Migration

    The northward movement of birds to their summer breeding grounds took a big step forward today.  Above is a photo of Tundra Swans that were travelling from a staging area somewhere in the eastern Great Lakes to the next staging area in the upper plains.  I earlier had seen two other flocks of over 100 birds each.
    Last March 13 I saw over 2200 Tundras fly over my yard which were all moving in the same WNW direction as today's birds.  In December last year the few flocks I saw were moving in the exact opposite ESE direction.
   Besides the Tundra Swans I also had several first of the year yard birds such as Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Killdeer, Golden-crowned Kinglet and Sharp-shinned Hawk.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

   I had a nice raptor migration over the deck today that included 4 Bald Eagles, 7 Turkey Vultures, 1 Red-shouldered Hawk, 4 Red-tailed Hawks, 2 Coopers and 2 Sharp-shinned Hawks.
Immature Bald Eagle

Local (not-migrating)Red-shouldered Hawk

I'm going with middle bird being a Cooper's and the other two being Sharpies

Merlin at Ludington State Park this morning

Winter Wren 3/27/2017

  After a walk on the south breakwater of Ludington Harbor, I found a Winter Wren at the boat launch behind the Pere Marquette Monument.  Dave Dister says this sighting beat the early spring record by one day.

  From the south pier I spotted a Common Loon cruising through the harbor.
   I also was able to photograph one of the male Red-breasted Mergansers, who were the most numerous species tallied.

Horned Grebes at Pt. Mouillee 3/25/2017

  While in southeast Michigan on Saturday I was able to spend some time photographing Horned Grebes at the Pt Mouillee Headquarters. 
  The grebes appeared in almost the whole array of plumages
Horned Grebe in basic plumage (non-breeding)

Transition between basic and alternate plumages

Getting close to full alternate plumage

  Back closer to home on Sunday in a search for previously reported White-fronted Geese I came up empty but found the following birds.
Snow Goose
American Kestrel

Rough-legged Hawk
Pair of Hooded Mergansers