Monday, September 30, 2013

Palm Warbler, Finally

   Every year during warbler migration there can sometimes be so many Palm Warblers at birding hotspots that they almost become a nuisance as their flitting about demands your attention as you try to pick out rarer birds.  At times they seem to be everywhere.....everywhere, that is but my yard.  With a yardlist of 135 species that included 20 warblers, the Palm's absence was glaring . Then this morning,  this individual stopped by for a photo shoot. 

Palm Warbler #136 on the yard list
 This Magnolia Warbler also came by.

   Then for some reason all the small birds ducked for cover.

Cooper's Hawk

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sleep is for Quitters

   I have a hard time understanding how some people (just about everyone) use their day off as an opportunity to sleep in.  If you live in southeast Michigan and you chose to sleep in this morning, you missed a spectacularly fiery dawn that cast an orange-pink hue to everything.  I got home from work last night after midnight and didn't get to bed until 1 AM, but was rewarded for dragging myself out of bed before 6 with not just being able to witness the beautiful sky shown below, but I ALSO ADDED TWO  NEW YARDBIRDS.  As I was photographing the clouds I heard an Eastern Screech Owl(#134) doing what Cornell University's website calls a 'Monotonic Trill'.  I was not able to locate the bird. 
   After the sun came up, the sky completely clouded over and the colors faded to gray.  At 830, as I was moving things into the house to avoid the impending rain, I noticed a bird fly from across the street do a U-turn over my front yard and head back south.  The long-tailed, slender bird with white wing patches was a Northern Mockingbird. (#135).    It's kind of funny (and prophetic) that last month when my friend, digiscoping expert Jerry Jourdan, reported a Mockingbird behind a grocery store in my neighborhood he predicted "It'll will probably end up in  Wloch's yard".  It may have taken a month but like tornadoes to a trailer park cool birds inexplicably keep finding my yard.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Photos of the week, Birds, Moon, Jupiter and Waterspout

Here are a few photos I took from my yard this week.

Red-eyed Vireo

Thick Crescent

Jupiter with four moons

Moon ID photo

Ruby-throated Hummingbird still hanging around

Nashville Warbler

Red-eyed Vireo

Same bird

  The photo below was taken last Saturday from the Point Mouillee Headquarters.  It is a funnel cloud attempting to become a waterspout.

Waterspout Funnel Cloud

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Snowy Egret still hanging around

   One of the Snowy Egrets that showed up at my workplace in Erie, MI, in August is still hanging around.  

Perched next to Great Egret for convenient comparison.

Wilson's Warbler

A portion of a flock of Cormorants that totaled 390.

   Then I headed to the Point Mouillee Headquarters to see if favorable winds would bring a sizable late Broadwing flight. 

   As soon as I got out of car a kettle of 30 birds flew over.

  Then a another small mixed kettle  of Broadwings and Turkey Vultures

  That was the highlight of raptor migration for the day, as the next three and half hours yielded only scattered distant birds. 

  Another photo of interest.
Belted Kingfisher

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It's a Swainson's

  While scanning the closest stream of Broadwings yesterday at Pt. Mouillee, Jerry Stanley from Pennsylvania found a suspected Swainson's Hawk. As he described its location I had a strong feeling I had my camera pointed at the same bird. I only fired off a couple of shots of the high altitude bird as it soared among the Broadwings.  The photo didn't turn out well but I'm told that there is enough there to confirm it as a Swainson's.

Note the larger size of the lower bird
   A Swainson's wingspan is in the range of 46-54" while the Broad-winged's is only 32-39". 

   Below is the range of Swainson's from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's website.

   Note that southeast Michigan lies outside this species normal range.  This explains that while the Detroit River Hawkwatch averaged close to 200,000 birds per year, they only average 6 Swainson's.

Broadwings Migration Ramping Up


    My prediction for Monday's Broadwing migration was correct.  There was a good push of upwards of 30,000.  Due to the strong north wind they were visible from the Point Mouillee Headquarters instead of the Lake Erie Metropark Hawkwatch site.  Their flight path for most of the day was perhaps as far south as Roberts Rd.  Then about  3:30 the winds lightened up and the stream of hawks moved closer to the Headquarters observation deck giving better but still distant views of the birds at a great altitude.
   There were decent views of other birds but the broadwings were little more than specks even as their flightpath came close to overhead. 

Immature Redtail

American Kestrel

Northern Harrier

Broadwings close to overhead

Streaming out of a kettle
     Today and Wednesday the East and Southeast winds should take the streams of hawks back to the official Lake Erie Metropark Hawk Count site or farther north.  As stated in Sunday's post, 20 years of data shows that by Sept 16 only 17% of the Broadwings have migrated through, while September 17 and 18 historically have accounted for 31% and 26% respectively.  So the birds will be crossing from Canada today and tomorrow whether they will be detected is another matter.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Broad-wingeds 9/14/2013 (with video and prediction)

UPDATE:  Prediction :   Hawk Watch data analysis for the Lake Erie Metropark site shows that by Sept. 16 only 17% of the season's broadwings have gone through but by the 19th that jumps to 85%. With 28% occurring on the 17th and 26% on the 18th.  So the strong north winds forecast for Monday should bring many more Broadwings but possibly south of LEMP hawk count site at places such as the Pt.Mouillee Headquarters or even the Roberts Rd. parking lot.  For Tuesday the potential for a big day is even greater as it fits the calendar perfectly but the lighter winds are going to lose their northerly component.  The LEMP site could experience an excellent count but with winds shifting around mid-day to east-southeast,  the birds may cross farther north.

   How appropriate that the milestone 100th post on this blog is about Broad-winged Hawks? For it was the Broadwing migration back in 1991 that drew me to Hawk Watch, which led to photographing birds and birdwatching in general.
   Yesterday I spent the morning and early afternoon at the Lake Erie Metropark (LEMP)  Hawk Watch catching up with old friends and getting a preview of the wave of Broadwings that will pass by in the next week or so.  Several times in the history of the LEMP Hawk Watch over 100,000 hawks have been seen in a day.

Broad-Winged Hawks at Lake Erie Metropark

Sparring Bald Eagles

Three Bald Eagles

Sharp-shinned Hawk glides past preoccupied  Eagles

Immature Red-tailed Hawk


American Kestrel
   I left the park about 2 pm and headed back to my house, where I had yet to see a single Broad wing this month.  That all changed during the 4 o'clock hour when I had over 500 fly over at a relatively low altitude.  Here are the photos (plus video) I took from home.

I can see the migration from my house

And now the movie............

Fall Warblers 9/14/2013

A morning walk along the Lake Erie shoreline, south of Erie Rd. yielded some migrating fall warblers

Black and White Warbler

Palm Warbler

Tennessee Warbler

Cape May

Confusing Fall Warbler

American Redstart

 Finally an ode of sorts to Odonata
Two best friends that anyone can have.
Green Darner taking a damselfly under its wing.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Montana Hummingbirds

   Four days after I filled the hummingbird feeder at the Montana vacation rental I finally got some takers.  The bird in the first photo and the one in the second and third photos are probably Broad-taileds.

The last bird appears to be a immature male rufous, the bad news is that he looks like he has seen at least the inside of someone's mouth.  I think my dog has hacked up things that look fresher than this bird.