Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Big Day of Birding Michigan & Ohio

Aka Andrew's and my 2nd annual midsummer hot day of Michigan & Ohio birding
Aka birding in the "kitten" and the "mitten" (just kidding- no one really said that)

On 7/16/17, Andrew Simon and I embarked on a Big Day of birding in Michigan and Ohio. Last year's trip yielded me a few life birds (birds seen for the first time), including Lark Sparrows at Oak Openings in Ohio, Dickcissel along farm roads near Ann Arbor, and a Franklin's Gull and Black Tern at Pointe Mouillee in Monroe. 

This year, we wanted to start earlier and hit more places, hoping to pick up a few more lifers. Targets included a few birds that had popped up recently, a Wood Stork in Ohio and a Yellow-crowned Night Heron in both states; a continuing Western Meadowlark in Michigan just north of the Ohio border; and reliable Summer Tanagers at Oak Openings. During the course of the day, we also found out we'd have access to a possible third lifer (for me), a Northern Bobwhite (thank you Lori & Bunny!), which made for an excellent bonus stop. We ended the day with 93 avian species, one lone pigeon being our last.

I walked away with three lifers, although I was unable to get decent pics of any of them:
#277 - Western Meadowlark (MI)
poorly lit photo
#278 - Summer Tanager (OH)
#279 - Northern Bobwhite (OH)

We did not find our targets of Wood Stork or Yellow-crowned Night Heron, though I did see some cute cats (sorry to those who might own these cats, if this is creepy let me know 😅).
I witnessed and photographed some cool moments and subjects, so I'll let them tell their stories:

"Follow me!" - a Wild Turkey with young
Why did the Wild Turkeys cross the road???
The Dickcissel who had no tail
This Turkey Vulture wanted to carrion with its business
Great Egret
Halloween Pennant dragonfly (possibly my fav photo of the day) 🎃🎃🎃
Pied-billed Grebe-lets! 💙💚
Purple Martin of House 14 provides well for his family

Part of the largest group of Trumpeter Swans I've ever seen (~70+)
The bird you'll see in the following pictures is a young Forster's Tern, a common bird around here during summer time, often seen diving headfirst into water to catch small fish. We were at this beach in search of a Laughing Gull, a rare coastal vagrant gull that would have been another life bird for me. 

Unfortunately, we missed the gull, but the antics of this young tern were enough to make the stop worthwhile. We watched the tern slowly and tentatively exploring the land, never straying too far from its parents. It picked and prodded through the sand, holding objects like rocks and wood chips in its bill, dropping them when they did not satisfy the role of food. At one point, I saw the young bird choose correctly and snatch a bug. 👏🐛

Playing fetch?
Sizing me up

Species of Birds We Saw/Heard:

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Mute Swan
  3. Trumpeter Swan
  4. Wood Duck
  5. Mallard
  6. Northern Bobwhite (lifer!)
  7. Ring-necked Pheasant
  8. Wild Turkey
  9. Pied-billed Grebe
  10. Double-crested Cormorant
  11. Great Blue Heron
  12. Great Egret
  13. Snowy Egret
  14. Green Heron
  15. Black-crowned Night Heron
  16. Turkey Vulture
  17. Northern Harrier
  18. Bald Eagle
  19. Red-tailed Hawk
  20. Common Gallinule
  21. American Coot
  22. Sandhill Crane
  23. Killdeer
  24. Short-billed Dowitcher
  25. Spotted Sandpiper
  26. Solitary Sandpiper
  27. Greater Yellowlegs
  28. Lesser Yellowlegs
  29. Ring-billed Gull
  30. Herring Gull
  31. Caspian Tern
  32. Forster's Tern
  33. Rock Pigeon
  34. Mourning Dove
  35. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  36. Black-billed Cuckoo
  37. Chimney Swift
  38. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  39. Red-headed Woodpecker
  40. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  41. Downy Woodpecker
  42. Northern Flicker
  43. American Kestrel
  44. Eastern Wood-Pewee
  45. Willow Flycatcher
  46. Alder Flycatcher
  47. Eastern Phoebe
  48. Great Crested Flycatcher
  49. Eastern Kingbird
  50. Belted Kingfisher
  51. Warbling Vireo
  52. Blue Jay
  53. American Crow
  54. Horned Lark
  55. Purple Martin
  56. Tree Swallow
  57. Bank Swallow
  58. Barn Swallow
  59. Cliff Swallow
  60. Tufted Titmouse
  61. White-breasted Nuthatch
  62. House Wren
  63. Marsh Wren
  64. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  65. Eastern Bluebird
  66. Veery
  67. American Robin
  68. Gray Catbird
  69. Brown Thrasher
  70. European Starling
  71. Cedar Waxwing
  72. Common Yellowthroat
  73. Yellow Warbler
  74. Grasshopper Sparrow
  75. Chipping Sparrow
  76. Field Sparrow
  77. Savannah Sparrow
  78. Song Sparrow
  79. Eastern Towhee
  80. Summer Tanager (lifer!)
  81. Scarlet Tanager
  82. Northern Cardinal
  83. Indigo Bunting
  84. Dickcissel
  85. Bobolink
  86. Red-winged Blackbird
  87. Western Meadowlark (lifer!)
  88. Eastern Meadowlark
  89. Common Grackle
  90. Brown-headed Cowbird
  91. House Finch
  92. American Goldfinch
  93. House Sparrow
Fav Lifer of the Day: Summer Tanager because I found it after a bit of a chase hearing it but not being 100% sure and wanting to see it. The chase made it worth it and super fun. Unfortunately with the Bobwhite we couldn't stay long enough to see it, so we only heard it.
Fav Non-lifer of the Day: Yellow-billed Cuckoos, seeing two together was really awesome. One had a dragonfly or something in its mouth. Then to see Black-billeds in the same small area was cool.

Andrew's Lessons Learned:
  • Dulcimer Band =/= Dulcimer Brand
  • Doves are not pigeons

My Lessons Learned
  • Sometimes moon roofs are closed, in which case don't stick your head through them
  • Nature makes trip wires

Monday, July 10, 2017

200 Birds!

As of my last "50 birds" post, I predicted I would have seen 200 bird species in my home county by August. It turns out this was a gross underestimation of my birding mojo, for I ended up reaching The Big 2-0-0 by May 28th! 

My 200th bird was a great one... On this particular morning, I was out to find some specific targets, including the Yellow-breasted Chat at Inwood Stony Creek. This particular chat was chatty as can be, and afforded some brief but repeated appearances. When I was satisfied with my views, it was off into the woods. Here I got my lifer Acadian Flycatcher with the help of Paul Poronto, Macomb birder, photographer, and blogger extraordinaire. Sometime along the way, I happened to look over at just the right moment... and what to my wondering eyes did appear but a Wood Thrush, in all its speckled cinnamon glory! 

The Wood Thrush sings a song that reminds me of the Happy Birthday song, with metallic trills at the end of each flutelike phrase. Happy Birthday to meeeee! Happy Birthday to meeeee! Thinking of that beautiful song seemed fitting for this celebratory moment.

Video of its call, courtesy LabofOrnithology:

What follows is the 4th edition of  my "50 birds" posts, which includes photos of species I spotted in my home county this year, listed in order by the date I first observed them. 

If you want to start from the beginning, here are links to the first three installments:

My next post of this kind will likely be at the end of the year, and will probably include fewer than 50 birds (last year my end of year total was 216 species for the home county). If I surpass that number this year, I'll be super happy; and then, the fun starts over on January 1st. 😊

May 2nd

Red-eyed Vireo
Ring-necked Pheasants

May 3rd

American Redstart

Not pictured: King Rail (an incredibly awesome and uncommon bird and ✨Life Bird #269✨ for me). Unfortunately I never saw it, only heard its distinctive call. Click here to listen, see a range map, and learn more about this species. Its conservation status is listed as "Near Threatened".

May 6th

Green Heron
Not pictured: Bank Swallow, Cliff Swallow

May 7th

Clay-colored Sparrow 💛

May 10th

Sedge Wren, ✨Life Bird #271✨
Blue-winged Warbler

May 11th

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (female)
Great-crested Flycatcher
Lincoln's Sparrow
Magnolia Warbler
Not pictured: Common Tern

May 13th

Orchard Oriole
Nashville Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Not pictured: Least Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo

May 15th

Louisiana Waterthrush
Wilson's Warbler
Eastern Kingbird
Black-crowned Night Heron
May 16th
Mourning Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler

Canada Warbler

May 17th

White-eyed Vireo ✨Life Bird #273✨
Swainson's Thrush
Northern Waterthrush

Not pictured: Alder Flycatcher

May 21st

Gray-cheeked Thrush
Bay-breasted Warbler
Not pictured: Eastern Wood-Pewee, Least Bittern

May 22nd

Least Sandpiper
Willow Flycatcher
Black-billed Cuckoo

May 24th

Grasshopper Sparrow
Henslow's Sparrow (my fav sparrow 💚)

May 26th

Black Tern
Common Nighthawk (a new bird for my yard!)

May 27th

Scarlet Tanager
Hooded Warbler
May 28th

Yellow-breasted Chat
Not pictured: Acadian Flycatcher (✨Life Bird #275✨), Wood Thrush