Monday, February 18, 2013

Flying Ducks

     Went to the DNR headquarters in Harrison Twp to attempt to view the Gyrfalcon that had been refound by Ed Lewandowski yesterday.  Of course the falcon never appeared in the two hours I was there but I did see lots of ducks.



Common Goldeneye

Common Merganser

    About an hour and a half after I left for home the Gyrfalcon was spotted again near the DNR Headquarters.

Editors note (added 2/19/13) : Later reports indicate that the Gyrfalcon was observed while I was on the north side of the point photographing the ducks.
Here is a video of ice being pushed onshore by the strong winds.  The reason the video is unsteady is that I was using a monopod instead of a tripod and had a 60 lb. dog leashed to the same arm that was stabilizing the rig.

  For some reason seeing the ice pile up made me think of a book that I got for next to nothing off the clearance rack at the Wayne State bookstore, when I went to school there.  The title of the book was 'Principles of Structural Glaciology'.  Talk about a dying glaciers while you still can kids.  Three decades transformed it from a science book to a history book.  Anyway it goes to show that you can't tell a book by it's cover. It was a pretty dull read, unlike its dynamic title.  I probably carried that book around for two months so that people would think I was smart. Come to think of it I think I met my wife during those two months.   Hmmm......maybe for two months I was smart.

Great Backyard Bird Count Weekend

    The Great Backyard Bird Count organized by Cornell University took place this weekend February 15-18.  The idea is pretty simple, just stand in the place where you live and count all the birds you see in your yard and report the totals at   .
Highlight of GBBC yard count  Chipping Sparrow

Leucistic Black-capped Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Now face North
  The GBBC is not just confined to your residence.  You can also stand in the place where you work and count the birds there while you think about the place you live.  

 Horned Grebe-Highlight of Erie bird count
Wood Ducks
Peregrine Falcon
'Blonde' Mallard hen with more conventionally plumaged Mallards
Mostly Scaups but not always
Male Redhead(top), Male Canvasback(bottom)

There is more than a cloud in this photo
It's Jupiter in broad daylight  (3 pm Sunday afternoon)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Birds at work

Strolled the Lake Erie shoreline after work this morning and photographed a few birds.

Horned Grebe

Ruddy Duck snd Horned Grebe


Hooded Mergansers

Bald Eagle

Tranquility base the Eagle has landed

Black-crowned Night Heron

Double-crested Cormorant

Spring has arrived

Chipping Sparrow back in my yard yesterday.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Rusty Blackbird in the yard

      Took a little time to cool off and do some birding after shoveling the driveway,sidewalk and patio this morning.  I was hoping to get some shots of the Chipping Sparrow ( that has been visiting my feeders since Sunday) posed on some snow covered foliage.  The Chipper never landed on the snow covered parts of the bushes so all I got were photos of it on the ground.  While sitting behind my camera waiting for the sparrow to cooperate, I heard a different bird up in the Sycamore tree.  It turned out to be a Rusty Blackbird.  It's only my second Rusty Blackbird sighting in my yard, the first was of three birds flying over with a group of Red-Winged Blackbirds during migration last October.

Rusty Blackbird

Chipping Sparrow stil hanging around

Dark-eyed Junco

Northern Cardinal
    Hopefully the Chipping Sparrow will hang around until next weekend for the Great Backyard Bird Count.  Here is a link to the GBBC website   .

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A year's worth of eagles in an hour

   Just after 2 pm this afternoon an immature Bald Eagle flew over my house and headed off toward the south west. It was the first Bald Eagle sighting from my yard this year.

Bald Eagle #1


 Just a minute later two more appeared off to the north heading more in a west southwesterly direction. 
Bald Eagles #2 & #3

 Their forward progress was slowed by a little sparring

Composite of Bald Eagles #2 & #3

  As they got due west another Eagle (#4) joined them.

Eagle #4 (lower right) joining #2 & #3

  Then just before 3 pm a fifth immature Bald Eagle flew by.

Eagle #5
   In each of the past 4 years I've only seen Bald Eagles on 3 or 4 days and the total birds seen in those years ranged from 3 to 5.  Typically most of my yard eagle sightings occur in March when they are heading northeast on their spring migration.

  Other birds of interest in the yard today were the Chipping Sparrow that has been here since Sunday

  and a Cooper's Hawk that scatters all the House Sparrows

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Chipping Sparrow rolls into Housesparrowville

     Back on April 23-24, 2005 a late winter snowstorm hit the Detroit area, bringing 4.3 inches of snow spread out over the two days.  As much snow as we received, it was only about half of what had been predicted because the temperature at the beginning of the storm was a degree or two too warm and the early precipitation fell as rain.  As the rain was starting to turn to snow on the 23rd, I noticed a chipping sparrow under the feeders in my yard.  Until today that was the earliest in the year that I ever had a chipper in my yard. Range maps show that the closest this species overwinters is Tennessee.  Here are some photos that I took this morning.

Chipping Sparrow leaving the feeder

Kicking up snow

Convenient perch


      Below is the Chipping Sparrow range map from Arizona State University's Ask a Biologist website.  .  It clearly shows how far southeast Michigan is from its normal winter range.

  Ebird maps show that at least 3 other Chipping Sparrows have been seen in Michigan this year.  Two in western Michigan, one near Allendale Twp.  on Jan 5, and one near Holland on Jan. 18.  The third bird was near Saline in Washtenaw county on Jan 27.