Sunday, January 31, 2016

Putting January in the Rear-view Mirror

    Cold is relative.  

   One night in  April 1996 when I was putting my 4 year old daughter to bed, she asked what the weather was going to be the next day.  I told her it was going to be rainy with a high of 45 F.  Not yet familiar with the Fahrenheit scale she asked " Is that cold or warm?"  I told her" It's cold for April but it would be warm for January".  Her unforgettable response "I wish it was January"

   January on west coast of mid-Michigan can go one of two ways,  warm with lake-effect snow or cold with lake-effect snow.  The promised warmth of an El Nino winter mostly held true but we did have a chilly weekend a couple of weeks back that gave us 15-18" in a 4 day period.  I suspect for the month we had 24-30", which is analogous to getting off with a warning on a traffic stop.

  The relatively warm weather this month may have influenced one early migrant.  Early Saturday  I checked a voicemail that Dave Dister had left on my phone.  In the message he stated that on Friday afternoon Brian Mulherin, had noticed a out of season Sandhill Crane just off US-10 between Scottville and Custer.  Just after sunrise I left the house on a mission to refind the bird.

  I initially checked the original location but the bird was not there.  On that stretch of highway the speed limit is 55 mph so I turned north on the first road past the site to scan the fields from a safer location.  Just 100 yds up Tuttle Rd from US-10 I located the crane about 50 yds off the road.
Wishing it was April

   Other birds of interest.
Dark-morph Rough-legged Hawk

American Kestrel
Anti-crepuscular rays
  An explanation of anti-crepuscular rays is posted on one of my other blogs. Link below :

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Pied-Billed Grebe and Ducks in Ludington Harbor

   Dave Dister called and informed me that a Pied-Billed Grebe was mingling among the ducks in Ludington Harbor.

Pied-Billed Grebe

Common Golden-eye (female)

Greater Scaup (1st winter male)
   The Greater and Lesser Scaups can be hard to distinguish but there are a few diagnositic features that can aid in the identification process.

1) Round head - Check
Greater Scaup (adult male) 
2) Prominent jowly cheeks - check
 3)  Long white wing stripe - Check

Territorial Red-breasted Mergansers


Mute Swan
   Did I mention that the Lake-effect snow machine has been redistributing the relatively warm water of Lake Michigan onto the region.  We've had about 15" since Saturday evening.