Saturday, October 31, 2015

Fox Sparrow and Late Rose-breasted Grosbeak in the yard

     Been a rainy past few days but it didn't mean some productive birding couldn't be accomplished.  On Wednesday I added the 87th species to my yard list when this Fox Sparrow was observed kicking leaves under a spruce tree.

Fox Sparrow

  Early this afternoon while passing through the kitchen I noticed a female Rose-Breasted Grosbeak near the suet feeder on my deck.  I was hoping to grab a quick photo of it but realized that I had left the camera in the car.  By the time I retrieved the canon rig the bird was gone.  An hour later it returned, this time on a seed feeder in the front yard.  I was able to snap a few blurry photos through a rain splattered window from 40 yards away.  Records indicate it is the latest fall Rose-Breasted Grosbeak for the county by 21 days. 

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Lesser Black-backed Gull Stearns Park 10/22/15

  A single adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was spotted among the Herring and Ring-billed Gulls at Stearns Park by Dave Dister on Thursday afternoon.
Lesser Black-backed Gull
  Out on the South breakwater the only shorebirds were three Dunlins and three Sanderlings.

  Back at home a Pileated Woodpecker did some damage to the suet cake that the smaller bird politely nibble on,
Pileated Woodpecker

Close up

 The Red-headed Woodpecker below was at Ludington State Park on Monday.
Red-headed Woodpecker

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A couple of lingering warblers

 An Orange-crowned Warbler is still hanging around the south parking lot at the stoner disc golf course at Buttersville Park.
 This Yellow-rumped Warbler is still visiting my suet feeder.


American Tree Sparrow

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Ludington Harbor South Breakwater 10/18/15

  Early this afternoon I ventured out to the south breakwater of Ludington Harbor.  On the walk to the end of the pier I only saw 7 birds on the pier itself, all Lapland Longspurs.
Lapland Longspur

First winter Lapland Longspur

  When I got to the end of the pier I scanned Lake Michigan and found a single Long-tailed Duck.
Long-tailed Duck
    A few minutes later I noticed a flock of 11 White-winged Scoters
White-winged Scoters
   Heading back in from the end of the pier I came across a Snow Bunting.
Snow Bunting
   Below is a Great Blue Heron taking on a good sized meal.
Catch of the day

Taking it to a more suitable location

Does this Carp make my neck look fat?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sable Dunes Audubon Society Field Trip - Ludington State Park 10/17/15

   This morning I met up with the Sable Dunes Audubon Society at Ludington State Park for their field trip led by Dave Dister.  The chilly air and moderate north winds dampened expectations, but Dave's familiarity with the park helped make the outing productive and enjoyable.
Hermit Thrush

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Dark-eyed Junco

Flock of Redheads
   My shoot-first-ID-them-later approach to birding caught a Lesser Scaup among the flock of Redheads that may have been overlooked without the photo.
Lesser Scaup to the upper right

Rusty Blackbird

White-breasted Nuthatch

Downy Woodpecker

Eastern Phoebe 

Red-headed Woodpecker

Great Blue Heron

  Photos from earlier in the week
Orange-crowned Warbler at Buttersville Park
   This caterpillar is one of many that repelled down silk threads out of my oak trees the past few weeks.  Its hard to get a sense of scale from this photo, but this larvae is the size of a man's ear....

...more specifically FDR's ear as it appears on a US dime.
   I discussed these caterpillars with Dave Dister last week when I ran into him at Ludington Harbor and he proceeded to point out a cocoon one had made on my car.
  This one is on the rim of one of my tires.
   And these are inside the rear driver-side door.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Horned Lark, American Pipit and Elusive Mercury

  The dawn meeting between the thin crescent moon and innermost planet Mercury once again drew me to the scenic overlook at my work-site.  I'll get to the celestial event later as I'm contractually obligated to lead with the bird content.
    After sunrise I was able to photograph a Horned Lark and an American Pipit.
Horned Lark

American Pipit
 The advantage to being at an elevation 300 feet higher than the surrounding terrain is having an unobstructed view of the horizon.  The big disadvantage is that the 15 mph winds off of Lake Michigan at ground level are closer to 30 mph at the higher elevation.  In order to shield my camera from the wind I had to open both passenger-side doors on my car and set up my tripod  between them, using the doors as a wind break.
Mercury and Moon over wind farm
  The perpetual winner of the race around the sun never gets more than 28 degrees from the sun, therefore it only is visible very low in twilight before sunrise or after sunset. Back when I was in school I was taught that the astronomer Nicholas Copernicus never observed Mercury.  Upon further review the validity of that story is suspect.
Greater magnification makes Mercury much easier to see

Eagles, Shorebirds and 4 Planets

  Friday morning saw a 3 Bald Eagles circling over the shoreline on the road leading to Ludington State Park.
Bald Eagle

Bald Eagles sizing each other up
   At the south pier of Ludington Harbor only saw a couple of birds.

  After work on Saturday morning drove to a scenic overlook to view 4 planets and the Moon in the eastern sky.

  Mercury is actually also in the photo above, but it doesn't show up in the compressed file that this website supports. It is a little easier to see to the lower left of the Moon in the photo below.
Moon and Mercury
  On my way down from the scenic overlook after sunrise I spotted a few Lapland Longspurs.
Lapland Longspur