Thursday, April 27, 2017

Piping Plovers and Early Oriole

  The pair of Piping Plovers that nested (verified by legbands) on Stearns Beach last year have returned.  I spotted them on Monday at the north pier of Ludington Harbor.

   Besides the Plovers, a couple of Ring-billed Gulls and a Caspian Tern the only other birds seen from the pier were Red-breasted Mergansers.

  This morning I drove around and found a small group of Blue-winged Teals in the pond at Freeman and US-31.

Peaceful courtship


And there she goes.

A confrontation ensues

Starts with a jab

then quickly escalates 

I lost track of who's who at this point

This guy concedes.
  My wife spotted a Baltimore Oriole sipping at the hummingbird feeder this morning. A few minutes later it returned and I fired off three shots before I had a chance to check camera settings.   This resulted in blurry overexposed images taken at 1/15 of a second.  I reset the camera to more acceptable settings but the Oriole did not return. 
  This was the first April Oriole that I've had at either my current home or my old house in the Wayne County.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Broad-winged Hawk 4/19/2017

   A brief flurry of migrating raptors flew over my yard just after noon yesterday.  The highlight was the first Broadwing of the season.

   Usually passing Sandhill Cranes are heard approaching before they clear the trees but with a new house being constructed a couple lots over this small flock almost snuck by.

  A pair of low flying Turkey Vultures came by to check on my 17 year-old blind and deaf cat.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Pine Warbler 4/18/2017

    I think I've been hearing at least one Pine Warbler around the yard for the past few days.  Today it came out in the open for a couple of minutes and I was able to get a few shots of it.

  It was only the second Pine Warbler that I've seen from the yard and it arrived six days earlier than last year.
   Speaking of birds that I've only seen twice in the yard, a Eastern Towhee stopped by last week for a photo shoot.

    The local Pileated Woodpecker hadn't visited the yard since February but he came by yesterday to destroy a suet cake.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Ruff in Muskegon 4/7/2017 w/map and video

   Earlier this week a Ruff, a rare Eurasian shorebird was found at the Wastewater Treatment Plant in Muskegon.  I made the trip down there this morning and was able to observe the bird after a birder from Illinois pointed me in the right direction.
  Although the bird's distance was less than ideal, I was able to get decent photos with my 500mm and 1.4x teleconverter.

Barking orders at Lesser Yellowlegs and Dunlin.

  Here is a video of the Ruff feeding.

   Below is a map of the Treatment Plant and a detail showing where the bird was located this morning.
Map of Muskegon Wastewater Treatment Plant

Detail of map showing Ruff's location today
  Here is a map lifted from wikipedia that shows the Ruff's normal range.  The blue represents its non-breeding winter range while the yellow surrounding the Baltic Sea and topping Russia looks like a presidential comb-over.


  Also in the data dump from my camera were some photos taken from my deck on Saturday.

Dark-morph Red-tailed

Rough-legged in April

Local Red-Shouldered Hawk

Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spring Migration

    The northward movement of birds to their summer breeding grounds took a big step forward today.  Above is a photo of Tundra Swans that were travelling from a staging area somewhere in the eastern Great Lakes to the next staging area in the upper plains.  I earlier had seen two other flocks of over 100 birds each.
    Last March 13 I saw over 2200 Tundras fly over my yard which were all moving in the same WNW direction as today's birds.  In December last year the few flocks I saw were moving in the exact opposite ESE direction.
   Besides the Tundra Swans I also had several first of the year yard birds such as Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Killdeer, Golden-crowned Kinglet and Sharp-shinned Hawk.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

   I had a nice raptor migration over the deck today that included 4 Bald Eagles, 7 Turkey Vultures, 1 Red-shouldered Hawk, 4 Red-tailed Hawks, 2 Coopers and 2 Sharp-shinned Hawks.
Immature Bald Eagle

Local (not-migrating)Red-shouldered Hawk

I'm going with middle bird being a Cooper's and the other two being Sharpies

Merlin at Ludington State Park this morning