Thursday, July 28, 2016

Common Eider Ludington Harbor 7/28/16

  This morning while walking the south pier at Ludington Harbor I noticed an unusual duck about 50 yds out on the lake side of the breakwater.  I took over 100 photos until a boat leaving the harbor spooked the duck which took off and appeared to land just north of the north pier.  When I got home I had an email from Van Burmiester with an attached photo of the same bird. I suspected that he was correct in determination that it was a Common Eider.   Have since received many replies confirming it as a Common Eider.  Thanks all.

   A Rare Bird Observation form and photos have been sent to the Michigan Rare Bird Review Committee.  If accepted, this would be only the 6th documented state record for this species.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hungry Hungry Heron

     Crossed paths this morning with a most-cooperative and focused Great Blue Heron on the south pier at Ludington Harbor this morning.
Heron.      May you please repeat the word?

Heron.      May you please give me the definition?
  This bird seemed to be determined to rid Lake Michigan of invasive Round Gobies.
A wading bird that has long neck and legs........

May you please repeat the word?       Heron

May you please use it in a sentence?

If Gail had not seen the heron fly down from the tree, she would have insisted the huge bird nested on the ground.

May you please repeat the word?            Heron

What's the word again?          Heron.

Hairwink?   Heron.   Harrow?   Heron    Hairline?  Heron

Hurling?  Heron     May you please repeat the word?...........

  This heron's dedication to its mission had it almost oblivious to my presence.  I positioned myself ahead of it on the pier while it slowly moved forward to a point where it got too close for my lens to focus.  At that point I would walk ahead another 50 feet and wait for the next fish to venture into the bird's strike-zone.  I swear if I stayed stationary the hungry fish-eater would have just stepped around me and continued on.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Ludington Avocets 7/22/16

     This morning Brian Allen relayed to MichListers a report from Linda Scribner of 19 American Avocets in Manistee.  Because I didn't get home from work last night until 11 AM this morning, I had no desire to ride up there to chase them.
    Luckily, shortly after I woke up this afternoon the Mostly Birds (but not Always) hotline lit up with a call from Dave Dister.  Dave was at Ludington Harbor where he was observing 16 Avocets. Despite the fact I was getting ready to start eating breakfast/lunch (dinner?) and got caught by an accident-induced road closure on the way, I made it to the south pier in about 20 minutes.  When I arrived I saw the flock fly out to the end of the pier before I reached the shoreline. They circled around and landed on the beach on the far side of the marsh area about 200' away.  

   As they were settling down a 30' cabin cruiser approached their patch of beach which sent the birds back to the air. They circled a couple of times then headed to points southward.

   Other birds of note at the harbor
Northern Pintail with two young Hooded Mergansers
Earlier in the week a few shorebirds were observed

Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper chick

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bird Meals

   Walked the south pier at Ludington Harbor this morning. Not a whole lot out there . Most interesting bird was a Belted Kingfisher with a small Goby.

  As we headed home I noticed a Merlin on a power pole devouring an unidentified bird.

Barn Swallow disrupting Merlin

   Later in the day the rain ended, the sky cleared and the Vultures started circling over my deck. I wondered why they weren't looking for a meal.
    Hey.  wait a second..........

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Crested Caracara and Snowy Owl 7/16/2016

Photo taken from my car before I even had a chance to park.

  Got an early start today.  Woke at 0230 AM ate, fed the cats (later found out that the cats feigned hunger when my wife woke up and earned a second breakfast this morning), loaded the car and was on the road by 3 AM.  The reason for the middle of the night departure was the state's first record Crested Caracara that has been in Munising since the first of the month.  Although I live halfway up north it still took 5 hours and 50 minutes to get to Munising.
   The birding gods were smiling upon me as I arrived and found the target bird perched unobstructed, and properly illuminated, in a dead tree at the Anna River boat launch parking lot, After about 10 minutes, the bird flew north  a couple of hundred yards toward the mowed fields of the paper mill.  It returned a short time later and hunkered down in dense foliage at the fence line of the paper mill perimeter.

Crested Caracara range map

  With phase one of the day's itinerary a success I packed up at 10:30 and headed back to the lower peninsula for an out of season Snowy Owl in Gaylord.  
   This bird was almost as easy to find as the Caracara but at a distance of at least a quarter mile the thermally distorted photos obtained of the owl are borderline useful for documentation and trash-worthy for any other purpose.  
Trying to blend in with the only other white object in the field, a Styrofoam cup

  This unusual pair of rarities had me wondering if the two species ever occurred simultaneously in the same state with the Snowy Owl being over 100 miles south of the Crested Caracara,

     Here are some other birds from the Caracara stake-out area.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Merlins in Town

Three Merlin Chicks

  Earlier in the week Dave Dister emailed that a pair of Merlins had built a nest about a quarter of a mile from the street with all the stop lights.  They had not only constructed a nest but filled it with 4 brand new Merlins.

All four nestlings

Adult watching from a nearby spruce

Checking in and dropping off.

Not lingering

   The young birds appear to really close to fledging and are wandering in and out of the nest.
One venturing out.

Why don't you join her.

Curious apprehension

Testing the wings
  Much thanks to the home owner for allowing me to stop by and enjoy the show.