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.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Eurasian Collared Dove, Wasn't Expecting That. 8/8/2021

   On the short list of birds that I expected to add to my yard list one day, Eurasian Collared Dove was not on my radar.  Nonetheless, I noticed the rather large pale dove fly across my yard and land on my neighbor's shed.  By the time I sent a group text to a few Mason County birders the bird had moved on.

Yard bird 169

  According to the searchable database on the Michigan Bird Records Committee website, the species had only been recorded in the state 31 times through November 2020. That would make it my rarest yardbird ever, besting the Rufous Hummingbird that visited my Southgate house in 2011.  Rufous Hummingbirds have been recorded at least 50 times in the state.

  Moments later, this young Bald Eagle stared me down as it flew over my deck.  But it didn't intimidate me....

....well maybe just a little.


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Woodstork '21 8/3/2021


   By the time I got to Wood was in the roadside ditch making a meal of small minnows.  It's an understatement to say this bird was cooperative.  It was downright bold, as it forced me to backpedal as it kept moving within the range of my lens's near focus.  
  When I first arrived this morning at the stakeout I could see Brian Brosky standing in front of his truck but the bird was not visible.  I made eye contact with Brian and he motioned downward as the bird walked about 3 feet in front of him and momentarily stood to the middle of the road.
     It soon resumed its patrol of the ditch.
  Next time I'll have to bring extension tubes so that I can get my lens's near focus from 15 feet down to 8.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Wood Stork, Mason County 7/31/2021

    Last week Brian Allen made me aware of a Wood Stork sighting one county south of me at Silver Lake State Park. The bird was not seen after the initial observation when it was observed flying north.  This afternoon Matt McConnell notified me that a bird of the same species was seen here in Mason County by Sara Bolan.  

   Just before 2 pm I met up with Matt and Dave Dister at the location of this morning's sighting.  We scoured the area for half an hour, then agreed that we needed to hop in our cars and expand the search.  While out on our off-site searches Brian Allen arrived at the initial location and was able to find the stork.

   Of course by the time I got back there the bird had taken off again. But after about 20 minutes Linda Scribner and Shelley Green spotted the bird flying over the swamp and headed toward the road where we were conducting our stake out.  I was able to get several photos as it passed over the road making a beeline to the ditch were it had first been seen.

   It most likely is the same bird seen last week in Oceana County.

Monday, July 5, 2021

American Avocets Over Lake Michigan 7/5/2021


Species 168 on the Yard List

  The photo above shows a flock 12 American Avocets that flew past my yard this morning.  I had been hoping that I would see them some day from my yard.  Would have preferred them strolling on my narrow beach (140' below my bluff),  rather than zipping by a half mile offshore.  But at least I had good lighting.

  Other flying things of interest in and around the yard this weekend were.... neighbor's gravity-defying cat

...and Marine 1 (there were actually two flying together).  The Presidential Helicopter was coming from Traverse City where the President paid a visit.  He wasn't on the chopper though, he had jetted to Delaware on Saturday.

Noisy July 4th Flyby

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Got My Yard Pelicans For the Year 7/1/2021


     The benefits of lakeside living...For the second year in a row I observed American White Pelicans fly by my yard.  This morning 3 of the huge white birds with black wing tips and cartoonishly large bills circled over the bluff as they leisurely flew south.  

   Other birds of interest in the yard lately....
....a continuing Pine Siskin

....Purple Martins finally showing up in late June to check out the house I installed for them, even though it's probably too late for nesting this year.

...and Bald Eagles which are almost an every day occurrence.