Thursday, January 13, 2022

Surf Scoter, Yard Bird #177 1/13/2022


   The mission that I've been assigned (by Dave Dister) since I moved to the lakefront two years ago is to find a Barrow's Goldeneye among the thousands of Common Goldeneye that overwinter on Lake Michigan near Ludington.  That search had me out at the edge of my bluff this morning taking advantage of the calm winds and 30 F temperature scanning flocks of ducks with my scope.  I struck out on a Barrow's but I found an adult male Surf Scoter hanging with a couple White-winged Scoters at quite a distance offshore.  Even with my 500mm lens plus 1.4x converter I couldn't see it through the camera, so I just aimed in the general direction that my scope was pointing.

  After the Scoter discovery I notified the proper local bird authorities and invited them to come take a look.  Dave came by around noon, he was also enticed by promises of White-winged Crossbills.  Once Dave arrived it took about 10 minutes of scanning the flock to locate the Surf Scoter.  While he was looking through my scope I used his scope to hone in on a flock of White-winged Crossbills that landed in one of my spruces.


   A little while after Dave left and I had put my scope away, Brian Brosky texted that he'd be in the area in about an hour, I told him that I'd try to relocate the scoter before his expected arrival.  It took me 2 complete flock scans and about 45 minutes to refind the duck that was now mixed in with 20 White-winged Scoters.  Brian arrived shortly thereafter. During that search I found a single Black Scoter which completed the Scoter Trifecta.  

 Other winter birds of interest....
Pine Siskin

Common Redpolls


Doomed Sora 2021-2022 1/6/2022


  Last Wednesday Dave Dister called and reported that Joe Moloney had spotted an out-of-season Sora at Cartier Park.  Soras are rails and their diet consists of seeds from wetland plants and occasionally aquatic invertebrates. Since we received 4" of snow on Wednesday and another 6" in the predawn of Thursday both of those food sources were about to become much harder to come by.  

  I made it out there Thursday morning and located the bird in the place that Dave described.  It shuffled through the snow covered leaf debris in a struggle to find food.

   I noticed it occasionally stopping to swallow some food.  It was only after I checked my photos and heard from Brian Brosky it became apparent that all the bird was finding was stringy algae.  Not enough to sustain it to migrate to warmer climes. 

    The bird was not seen after Thursday.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Ludington CBC 12/18/2021 and the Winter Finches That Stayed 12/26/2021

  The above photo was taken today in rare December sunlight, in contrast to the shroud of clouds that muted photos during the Ludington Christmas Bird Count a week ago yesterday.  Despite the clouds I was pleased that the White-winged Crossbills that occasionally zipped over my yard since October 23 finally came down to be counted and feed on the spruce cone crop.    

Yeah, now what.

  Also on the count a single Common Redpoll showed up for only its second appearance of the season.

  Today it appeared again..

  Another winter finch that appeared on the count as well as today were Pine Siskins.

    The American Tree Sparrow below also showed up to be counted last Saturday but hasn't been seen since. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Rough-legged Record 11/09/2021

  A report from Brian Allen in Manistee County of a southbound Black-legged Kittiwake had me  perched at the edge of my bluff on high alert.  The Kittiwake was a no-show but migrating Rough-legged Hawks did not leave me disappointed.

  According to Mason County bird record compiler and author Dave Dister the high daily count for Roughies was 15 on last year's Christmas Bird Count.   Between Dave, Brian Brosky and I we totaled 29 yesterday.  With 21 of them being seen from my yard, including 17 between 12:51-1:38 pm.  Three of the 21 were dark-morphs.


Monday, October 11, 2021

Peregrine Falcon 10/11/2021


    October is becoming Peregrine month around here.  Since the first of the month I've seen five of them fly by my yard.  The one today offered the best photo-ops by far.  I spotted it low over Lake Michigan a few hundred feet off shore.

   It proceeded to fly almost straight toward me....

...before resuming its southerly trajectory.

   A stiff headwind played a roll in slowing it down enough for me to fire off 40 shots of the world's fastest bird. 

  Since Thursday a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird has been visiting my feeders.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Mourning Warbler 8/28/2021


     A dozen or so warblers swarming around my mulberry tree prompted me to search for a possible rarity among the tree debris left by a windstorm earlier in the month.  I was rewarded with good looks at Bay-breasted, Chestnut-sided and Wilson's Warblers.  But the highlight definitely was a Mourning Warbler.  The first year female was a little challenging to identify but it stood still long enough for me to get some photos. Shoot first ID later.  It is a new addition to the yard list which now is up to 171 species.


Here are some of the other warblers that were present today.


Wilson's Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler
   Also seen today but not photographed were Magnolia Warbler and American Redstart.  Pretty good day for August.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Olive-sided Flycatcher v. Monarch 8/21/2021


   Yesterday I added the 170th bird to the yard list when 3 Olive-sided Flycatchers stopped by to feed on the local flying insects.  Dave Dister says that 3 represents the high daily count for the county, breaking the old record of 2. 

    This morning the Monarch that formed a chrysalis on the exterior of my basement wall, broke out and grew some wings.

   The newly emerged butterfly left the local Monarch population with a net zero gain for the day, as a lingering Olive-sided Flycatcher started the day by taking a taste of one of the newbie's unwary brethren.

       As caterpillars, monarchs only eat milkweed which contains toxins that give the insects a bad taste throughout their life.  Therefore it came as no surprise that flycatcher ended up dropping the Monarch after mouthing and mangling it for a couple minutes.   

   On a happier note, warblers have been migrating through my yard this week.  Today's Cape May Warbler shown below beat the county's old early fall date by 8 days.
  The Magnolia and Nashville Warblers were seen on Wednesday.