Sunday, January 6, 2019

Snowy Owl Ludington Harbor 1/6/2019

  Late this morning Dave Dister relayed that Linda Scribner had found a Snowy Owl near the little pier at the Loomis Street Boat-launch of Ludington Harbor.  Since I had yet to see a Snowy this season I headed right out there.

   When I arrived the bird had moved from the location that Linda had seen it but a binocular scan of both piers revealed that the bird was perched near the top of the Ludington Lighthouse.

    The bird seemed unfazed and unnoticed by the few pedestrians who hiked to the end of the pier.  I would have attempted a closer approach but I had my dog with me whose presence I'm sure the owl would not have appreciated.  So I headed home dropped the dog off, picked my wife up and drove back to the lakeshore.  As luck would have it the bird had fled the lighthouse but we fortunately ran into Matt McConnell who saw it head toward the south pier.

    We were able to relocate the bird on the sand near the beginning of the pier.

  At one point as the owl scanned its surrounding it tilted its head up to check out a.... 
 ...piston-twin plane on final approach to the local airport.
   The plane flew straight overhead as the owl kept an eye on it.

    Back at home White-throated Sparrows are still making daily appearances.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Black-Headed Grosbeak- Ludington 1/1/2019

    On Thursday of last week my Christmas Bird Count partner Van Burmeister reported that a Black-headed Grosbeak (3rd Michigan record) was visiting the feeders in his yard.  It was after sunset when I got the word but I made it over there at daybreak on Friday morning,  When I arrived Van and his wife Sally were hosting several birders who had made the predawn journey from across the state.

    As bird stakeouts go this was one of the most hospitable you could imagine.  Coffee, oatmeal cookies and sweet-rolls were offered while we observed the feeders through the sliding glass door. The only thing lacking was the target bird.

    While the morning light progressed and the Grosbeak still being a no-show,  Matt McConnell, Adam Byrne and Linda Ar started canvassing the neighborhood in search of the rarity.  About 10:45 Linda Scribner who had remained inside, received a call from Adam who was observing the bird under one of Van's tube feeders.  I caught a brief glimpse but the bird took off before I could pick up my camera.
  Later in the day it was realized that the bird was visiting feeders in at least a 3 block area of the neighborhood.  Over the weekend the bird was seen and photographed by many birders with myself being one of the few exceptions.

  Around noon today I unsuccessfully spent over an hour in my car ( unheated to prevent photo-ruining thermal distortion), staking out the feeders on Dexter St (three blocks north of Van's).  Needing to warm up I headed over to the Burmeister kitchen where the cookies were fresh but the Grosbeak had just left.  Within the hour the bird returned and I was finally able to get some decent photos of young molting male.
    Hopefully it will stick around until its molt is complete and it takes on a more photogenic appearance.  Or it could wander a mile and half north where my feeders are waiting.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

2018 Ludington Christmas Bird Count (CBC) 12/15/2018

   Since November 26th a White-throated Sparrow (WTSP) has been seen almost daily feeding on the seeds that I put out at the base of the spruce at the end of my driveway.  I was hoping that it would stick around for the Christmas Bird Count but had some concerns when I didn't see on either Monday or Tuesday this week,  I was relieved when it returned on Wednesday just in time to be included for the count week.  On Thursday the odds of a Count Day (12/15/2018) WTSP increased when a second bird showed up and hung out by the same tree.
   Of the previous 47 Ludington CBCs  WTSPs were only recorded on 6 counts but 3 of those have occurred in the last 3 years.
   I wasn't able to check for the sparrow this morning because I left before sunrise to look for a Snowy Owl that a coworker had spotted at my work site earlier this week.  From there I had to head back to town and meet up with Van Burmeister and assist him with his assigned count area.  Luckily the White-throated Sparrows were both present when I returned home in the early afternoon.

  I only took a few photos as I traveled with Van in and around Summit Twp.

House Finch

Eastern Bluebirds
   After Van and I parted ways I went back up to the reservoir at work and found a single Snow Goose hanging around with a flock of over 800 Canada Geese.

Snow Goose and Canada Goose
Red-breasted Merganser
   Down by the powerhouse a pair of Long-tailed Ducks were seen.
   As well as 3 American Tree Sparrows

Goldfinch and Tree Sparrow
      Other birds at my feeders that posed for photos were....
White-breasted Nuthatch

Sharp-shinned Hawk
  Moments after I photographed the hawk it dropped down, grabbed a Goldfinch and flew off with the tasty morsel.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Common Redpolls in the Yard 11/13/2018

   Common Redpolls showed up in my yard today quite a bit earlier than last year's December 26 arrival.

A Fox Sparrow has been lingering since Sunday

 Pine Siskins have also been hitting the feeders in singles and pairs.
The Rock Wren at Ludington State Park was still hanging around on November 5.

  Its also getting late for White-crowned Sparrows but an adult and 2 immatures were at the State Park feeders on November 9.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Rock Wren - Ludington State Park 11/02/2018

  Ludington has been drawing in the rare birds for the past 10 days.  First of all, the Ash-throated Flycatcher that was found at Ludington State Park on October 26 was showing well, up until at least yesterday.  Then earlier this week a Little Gull was hanging with the Bonaparte's Gulls at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.  The hot streak continued today when Andrew Simon and Lori Schutz found a Rock Wren hanging around the beach house at the aforementioned State Park.

    I got word of the Wren as I was in the checkout line while grocery shopping, when I received a text from Dave Boon nearly simultaneously as Dave Dister was leaving me a voicemail.  The unprecedented Double Dave Alert had me racing home to grab the camera and head to the park.

  Luckily when I arrived at the park, the target bird was still right at the beach house. It spend the next 3 hours prowling along snow fences on the beach and the first row of dunes east of the parking lot before eventually returning to beach house.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Little Gull Ludington WWTP 10/30/2018

    Around Noon today Reuben Yoder and Jacob Hostetler picked out a single Little Gull among the few hundred Bonaparte's Gulls.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Ash-Throated Flycatcher - Ludington 10/27/2018

  On Thursday Matt McConnell found an Ash-throated Flycatcher on the Island Lake Trail at Ludington State Park.  I made an unsuccessful attempt to see the bird around 6pm Friday. 

   Late this morning I made it back out there and found the bird to be quite cooperative once it was relocated.

   As I was finishing my photo-shoot with the flycatcher I received a call from Dave Dister who had located a possible Black-legged Kittiwake at the Wastewater Treatment Plant in Ludington.  Dave was still locked on the bird when I arrived with a small caravan of birders who followed from the State Park.  Upon further review it has been determined that the bird in question has been downgraded to a Bonaparte's Gull.