Thursday, May 18, 2017

Tawas Point State Park

  Drove across the state this morning to the shores of Lake Huron unsuccessfully chasing a Fork-tailed Flycatcher. According to more punctual birders I missed the Fork-tail by 2 hours.  In the three hours that I searched for the target bird I saw some more pedestrian neotropic migrants.
Immature Summer Tanager

Scarlet Tanager

Orchard Oriole
Female Baltimore Oriole

Northern Parula

Blackburnian Warbler

Indigo Bunting

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  Of course a late report from Marc North this evening reveals that the Forktailed Flycatcher has been refound in Tawas State Park.  I think that I'm living on the wrong side of the state because while I was over on the sunrise side a Painted Bunting was found in the same (Iosco) county and in nearby Bay County  a Laughing Gull, a Eurasian Wigeon as well as both Marble and Hudsonian Godwits were found.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Golden-crowned Sparrow 5/9/2017 Whitefish Point

Seventh State record Golden-crowned Sparrow
     My third attempt over the past six years to see a Golden-crowned Sparrow in Michigan was successful, even though it took two days to cross paths with it.  I had spent about an hour and a half , off and on throughout the day on Monday without any luck.  But early Tuesday morning the target bird showed up after about a ten minute wait.  It ducked in and out of the brush as it warily avoided migrating Sharp-shinned Hawks that passed over.
  It had lots of sparrow company around the feeders behind the Point Gift Shop.



American Tree Sparrow
   The Siskins were fueling up for their trip across the big lake they call Gitche Gumee.

Purple Finch

Ruffed Grouse
    Other migrants passing Whitefish Point include....
Broad-winged Hawks

Common Loon
     Some birds were content to hang around a little longer
Common Loon

Red-necked Grebe

Monday, May 8, 2017

Neotropic Cormorant, Tahquamenon River 5/8/2017

   A Neotropic Cormorant, whose normal range goes from extreme southern Texas all the way down through most of South America. turned up last week in the Tahquamenon River in the eastern UP.
Neotropic Cormorant flanked by two of the Double-Crested variety

  Meanwhile at Whitefish Point
Red-necked Grebes

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Lincoln Sparrow

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Loggerhead Shrike

  Just north of Manistee a Loggerhead Shrike has been hanging out on Bar Lake Rd. for a few days.  On Friday I made the forty minute drive but could not find the bird.  After not seeing any reports of it on Saturday, it was sighted again in the same area by Leonard Graf at 10:45 this morning.   So early this afternoon I finally caught up with the little impaler as it hunted from the power lines right alongside the road.  

   The Red-headed Woodpecker in my yard has not been seen since the 4th which was its fourth straight day of hitting my suet feeders.
    The local Pileated Woodpecker showed up in the yard after almost a one month absence.

    What's remarkable in the unremarkable photo below is that the dark speck near the center is Bald Eagle flying at very high altitude.
Bald Eagle spotted without optical aid and photographed with a 500mm lens and 1.4x converter
  How high you ask?  Well let's do the math.  First we have to figure what its angular size is.  The easiest way to do this is to compare it to an object of a known angular size.   After the sunset on Thursday the waning crescent Moon was high in the evening sky.  So I took a photo of it using the same set up that the eagle photo was taken.  
Moon shot with 500mm lens and 1.4x converter

Cut and pasted Eagle onto Moon while maintaining scale of respective photographs.
  The Moon at that time was 30.807 arcminutes in angular size.  By measuring the Eagles's image and comparing it to the Moon we get an angular size of 2.800 minutes of arc for the bird.  Now we take 1 over the sine of 2.8 arc minutes and find that the raptor was 1227.9 times farther away than its wingspan. The wingspan of a Bald Eagle ranges from 5.9 to 7.5 feet.  You could argue that the Eagle in the photo doesn't have its wings fully extended.  So if you conservatively subtract a foot from the birds full wingspan you get that the birds height is (4.9' to 6.5') x 1227.9 =  6016' to 7981'

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Three Day Wonder

   The Red-Headed Woodpecker that became the 109th bird on my yardlist has perfect attendence so far for the month of May, as it showed up for the third straight day.

   At noon I took my camera to the South Pier of Ludington Harbor at caught some White-winged Scoters  scooting north out over the lake.
    Other birds of interest were this handsome Horned Grebe...
 ...and this Spotted Sandpiper.

     Still waiting for a push of warblers through the yard.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Woodpecker Heptad Complete

    There are seven species of woodpeckers that have been recorded in Mason County.  Up until yesterday I had tallied six of them (Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied, Pileated, Northern Flicker and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker) on my yard list.  The remaining species was the boldly marked Red-headed Woodpecker.

   I suspected one would show up one day because they nest less than 5 miles away at Ludington State Park.  Yesterday the doubly outstanding (outstanding adj def. 1- prominent, conspicuous, striking. def. 2 - remaining to be dealt with) picidae was seen momentarily in one of my oaks.  Unfortunately, by the time I grabbed the camera all I saw was the white wing-patches as it flew toward the next block.
  Today as I got out of my car after a twelve hour shift I heard its hoarse tchur call coming from my neighbor's yard.  As I hurried into the house to get my camera it headed down to one of my suet feeders and I was able to take a few drab, long distance shots to document the visit.