Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Photo Journal 2016: April

This April brought transitions in the seasons, and in my life. Leaving one job and starting a new one (Wild Birds Unlimited Grosse Pointe Woods) was being discussed, which is never an easy decision for me to make (although let's face it, most decisions aren't easy for me to make). Anyway, I  decided it couldn't hurt to move closer to a life that honors my passions.
I like the idea of aligning yourself with what lights you up inside, because it lights you up for a reason.
Now, let's see how the sun lit up our nature plots this month!

April, Spot 1

Spot 1: April, 2016, Weeks 14-17

April, Spot 2

Spot 2: April, 2016, Weeks 14-17

April, Spot 3

Spot 3: April, 2016, Weeks 14-17

Other April Happenings:

Life Birds

This month was QUITE the month for "lifers" for me (birds I've seen for the first time).

The Fox Sparrow was a bird I didn't think I would recognize when I saw it; after all, it is a sparrow, right? Wrong. Birding is such a teaching experience; a way to open your eyes to the subtleties of the world around you, and realize how much you truly don't see. Sparrows are not just sparrows, they have intricate but distinct differences, and this Fox Sparrow was easily recognizable by it's very red and grey coloring (which makes it a "Red" type...there are many variations on Fox Sparrow plumage across regions of the United States).

Next I went on a little road trip with my mom and sister, leading me to find the Black Vulture and Carolina Chickadee in KY and the Northern Mockingbird in TN (ironically, I had to go down South to see it...)

Back in Michigan, I was able to find a female Purple Finch at Lake St. Clair Metropark- thanks to the keen eyes of fellow birder Brian McGee, who was able to point out this bird to me and other birders around.

Then, friend Andrew Simon helped point out a Broad-winged Hawk (which I figured I'd seen before but could never identify on my own).

Finally, the Pine Warbler un-lifer. I say this because technically I had seen a Pine Warbler before, which Paul Poronto and Kevin Rysiewski were quick to remind me, but I explained the experience didn't stick in my head for some reason. Sometimes, on group outings there are so many birds that fly by so quickly, all you see is a blur and the sighting doesn't feel truly yours. But I finally found this bird, studied it for a length of time, heard and saw it calling,and was able to finally add this warbler to my life list (much to everyone's relief). ;)

Memorable FOYs (first of the year sightings):
Common Loon

This year seemed to be the year for Common Loons. Some days, there were between 20-40 loons at Stony Creek Metropark. This one happened to be hanging out at Lake St. Clair Metropark.

One day, on an extremely over-stretched lunch break at work, I sped to LSCMP to see three Black-crowned Night Herons. I only looked at the birds for about a minute, but it was well worth it. There was even a juvenile up in the tree which I had never seen before. Then I sped back to work. I was only about 10 minutes late.

Black-crowned Night Heron
Black-crowned Night Herons

Finally, the Sora is a bird I'd never actually seen. I'd heard them so many times, giving their characteristic "Whinny" call (click here for a sound clip). Still, they are so secretive! Finally, I saw one. And then, I started seeing them every time I went out. Again, it makes me wonder how much surrounds us which we do not perceive.

"The Narcissistic Sora" (captioned by Kevin R.)

Last year's January through April total species count: 93
This year's January through April total species count: 140

Interestingly, my last new species for April 2015 and April 2016 were both Palm Warbler, followed by a Great Egret on May 1, 2015, and another large white bird on May 1, 2016, the Whooping Crane. More to come on that story in May's post...!

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