|Blue-winged Warbler (Vermivora cyanoptera)|
This month brought some of the most noticeable changes to my nature plots. From sparse to full greenery, spring breathed life into the woods. The vernal ponds filled up to the brim, and by the fourth week, began to collect a filmy coating on their surfaces. I even got to take some of my nature plot photos on my 27th birthday (Week 20- May 16th).
May, Spot 1
|Spot 1: May, 2016, Weeks 18-22|
May, Spot 2
|Spot 2: May, 2016, Weeks 18-22|
May, Spot 3
|Spot 3: May, 2016, Weeks 18-22|
Other May Happenings:
Life BirdsMay was a 5-lifer month for me, which is nothing to complain about!
In the birding community, we joke that there is often a sacrificial birder. This is a birder who decides to call it quits for the day, knowing by Murphy's Law that right after leaving, some great bird is going to appear. The sacrificial birder can also be a birder who goes out of town, and while out of town, a rare bird appears in his or her home county. Well, local birding legend Tom Heatley happened to be out of the country this May, searching for his last bird family (he found it!). We figured his absence would make him the ultimate sacrificial birder, and we were not wrong.
|Whooping Crane Capture- Photo by: Kevin Rysiewski|
|Hooded Warbler (Setophaga citrina)|
May 7th brought 3 lifers in one day! First we found a Lincoln's Sparrow along one of the Ford House Bird Walks with Wild Birds Unlimited Grosse Pointe Woods. As new co-leader of these walks, it was exciting to be able to get a lifer with new birders who were also seeing some of these birds for the first time. After this great bird walk (where we also found the uncommon Hooded Warbler, one of my favorite warblers), I received news there was a Red-headed Woodpecker at Stony Creek!
|Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)|
At the beginning of the year, I had set three top bird targets, which I nicknamed, "Code Red, White, and Blue" for the colors of the three target birds. Red was the Red-headed Woodpecker, followed by Northern Shrike (white) and Cerulean Warbler (blue). I headed straight from the Ford House to Stony Creek Metropark, where Kevin R. and Andy W. showed me my lifer Red-headed. Shortly after, Kevin clued me into a spot to find a Louisiana Waterthrush, which is also an uncommon bird I'd been hoping to find. Sitting in the microcosm of a swamp which this bird calls home; the LoWa singing and flitting about, was about the most peaceful moment I could dream up.
Finally, at the end of the month, I located two Yellow-billed Cuckoos at Nicholson Nature Center. Their ka-ka-ka-ka-kow calls helped me narrow down where they were perched, and when I saw their brightly spotted tails and unique profiles in flight, I was overjoyed.
|Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus)|
Memorable FOYS (first of the year sightings):
|Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens)|
|American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)|
|Kirtland's Warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii)|
Click here for a very interesting radio take on the Kirtland's Warbler story.
Other great FOYs include: Common Nighthawk, Bobolink, Eastern Screech-Owl, and Clay-colored Sparrow.
|Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida)|
Last year's January through May total species count: 170
This year's January through May total species count: 197