Monday, April 25, 2016

WHOOP, There it is.

  Just inside Ludington State Park while walking the banks of the Big Sable River this morning, my wife and I heard some Sandhill Cranes flyover.  A glance upward revealed much more and I blurted out  "There's a white one".  From where we were standing the cranes were quickly blocked by some small trees.  After a few frantic seconds trying to get a clear shot at the Whooping Crane, the quintet turned around which allowed me to fire off 30 photos before they continued northward.

  I'm pretty certain I'm able to ID this individual by her leg bands.  The right leg bands are Red over White.
The left leg bands are Green over White
  Here is a link to its 2015 yearbook page....Crane # 65-15 DAR  Info at that site reveals that the bird was banded on October 21 of last year.  Coincidentally just this morning my youngest daughter texted me a photo of a screengrab of an Earth Day news report about Whooping Cranes from Madison Wisconsin's WMTV.  I know one of the people in the video at the 46 through 50 second mark. Here is a youtube video of the news story......

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Yard Bird #100 is......Blurry and Poorly Exposed

Purple Finches

     Today I added a new bird to the yardlist, #100, and its a PEREGRINE FALCON.  
Epic Milestone Bird (less than epic photo)

   The Peregrine was part of a trickle of migrating raptors that included, 5 Broad-winged Hawks, 
Broad-winged Hawk
 a Merlin
   a couple of adult Bald Eagles and 6 Turkey Vultures,
Sandhill Cranes
  Earlier in the morning the deep overcast didn't ruin the photos taken closer to the ground.
Female Purple Finches

Northern Flicker

  On the weekend the lighting was better.
Pair of Chipping Sparrows

Turkey Vulture checking on my health

American Tree Sparrow still lingering

Pileated Woodpecker
   Over the weekend the following two birds set the table for the Peregrine to be species #100 on the list.
Common Loon (#98)

Bonaparte's Gull (#99)
Brown Thrasher returned on Monday.

Monday, April 18, 2016

.............And a Rail in Every Garage

   Herbert Hoover's 1928 presidential campaign has been credited with the prosperity-promising slogan, 'A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage'. He could have secured the votes of the birding community by offering what Mason County's Dave Dister found this morning.... a rail in every garage.  
  Here's how Dave described it " This morning as I pulled my car out of the garage, I noticed an odd shape in one of the garage windows.  It was a Virginia Rail! What the Hay! A couple of days before this, I got a call from Tim Granger who told me there was a Sora in a Manistee area garage."

Still waiting for my rails (that's right plural), I have a two-rail garage.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Back to the Mundane

  After spending yesterday unsuccessfully chasing the Black-billed Magpie, today I stayed home and let the birds come to me. My visitors were more cooperative but significantly less glamorous than yesterday's target.  All the birds below have been seen almost daily so far this month.
Pine Siskin

Sandhill Cranes


....and the Beast

Brown Creeper

Golden-crowned Kinglet
      Last fall small green caterpillars that were able to escape the hoards of warblers, spun cocoons on my house, in tree bark crevices and in every seam in my car.
Waiting for hatch day
Not waiting for hatch day

Black-billed Magpie Muskegon/Oceana County 4/7/16

  Below are photos a Black-billed Magpie taken by Cheryl Smith on her farm on Skeels Rd  on the Muskegon/Oceana County border. 

  Note Dave and I did not see the bird.  The bird was last seen by the Smiths' about 12:30 PM on April 7 flying to the south.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Merlin Takes a Meal

   During the 9 o'clock hour this morning a Merlin flew over my yard with an unfortunate (American Tree?) Sparrow in its grasp.  It took it to a nearby tree, ripped it open and consumed the unfortunate bird.

Feathers Flying
 Earlier in the morning I walked the south pier at Ludington Harbor and saw a Horned Grebe.....

....and a cooperative pair of Red-Breasted Mergansers

  Yesterday afternoon I found the Male Northern Harrier below in Amber Township.
  The morning started out cold in the mid-teens
  Before that it started out dark as I check for Northern Lights before dawn.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Say's Phoebe at Tippy Dam, Manistee County 4/4/16

   Late Sunday afternoon Brian Allen and Doug Cook found a Say's Phoebe at Tippy Dam in Manistee County.  This morning my wife and headed up there to see if I could find the bird and get some photos. 
   When we got there shortly after 9 AM we walked the short trail along the Manistee River, first toward the dam then downstream from the dam.  We saw plenty of bird activity such as Song Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees, Robins, Dark-eyed Juncos and even some Phoebes(of the Eastern variety) but the target bird was not located.  My wife started to get cold so I gave her the keys and she went and waited in the car.
   I continued to search for the bird another 10 minutes or so, then wound my way toward the spillway of the dam.  It was at this time my short-attention span had me at the locked gate with my focus on the masterful brickwork on the 98 year-old dam powerhouse.  I turned around toward the path from the parking lot and spotted another birder approaching with binoculars and camera in hand.  It was Linda Scribner and she was there to search for the elusive(apparently only to me) bird. Talking to Linda I found out that the bird was seen an hour earlier right at the spillway where I had been standing. 
  Together we walked over the gated fence and there was the Say's Phoebe alternating between perching on the bolts bracing the wall and catching bugs on said wall. The bird continued this behavior for the next hour and was still there when I went back to the car to check on my wife. 
   There were three possible scenarios that could have resulted from my walk back to the parking lot , two of which would allow me to return to dam and resume photographing the bird. In Scenario 1(10% probability) my wife would say 'take your time and get that perfect photo'. Scenario 2 (60% probability) she would say "pack it up, let's go home". The third possibility (30% probability) would be that she had been tired of waiting, took the car and headed home. On the bright side I would have had the rest of the day to get an epic photo and  of course to find a ride home.  By the quality of the photos posted, it should be obvious that Scenario 2 was the correct answer.

  On the way home we saw a Rough-legged Hawk that took off from a power line and flew south where it met up with another Roughie.