Bird Feeder Set up for the Winter

I am not one of those birders who feed year round… The woods and field behind my house provide plenty of food for them…. I do however feed from November to March…. I set them up yesterday…. Thistle, Black oil sunflower, Safflower and a Supreme mixture that I put in a large tube and in a Tray Feeder….. Already this morning I have had a couple of Goldfinches and one Dark-eyed Junco….. in a week, it will be going crazy…..

The Big Sit….

I had the pleasure of being asked to participate in The Big Sit this year at Lk. St. Clair Metropark… I joined Tom Heatley, Barb Baldinger, Joanna Pease, Jim Fowler, Kevin Rysiewski, The Oelsners and the Denniss and Diane Miller… The day was mostly cloudy with scattered showers… It was windy… Not the best weather… the winds were from the Southwest, probably not the best wind for fall migration… However, we still gave it a go and ended up with 50+ species (I don’t have the final tally.. I left at 6pm)… Highlights included an American Woodcock, 2 Wilson Snipe, Yellow Warbler, Palm Warbler, Many Yellow-rumped Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Rusty Blackbirds, Fox Sparrow, Lincoln Sparrow, White-throated and White-crowned Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Coopers Hawks, Red-Tailed Hawks, Pectoral Sandpiper, American Pipit, Orange-crowned Warbler, Eastern Towhee, American Kestrel, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Red-winged Blackbirds and many more….  It was my first Big Sit and It was fun… there were some lulls in the action, but that time was filled with great conversation, a few laughs and of course some good food!!!  Macomb County has a great birding community!!!

Thanks to Tom and Barb for organizing the day!!!!!

** Final Tally was 53 Species with a Green Heron seen after I left**

Mockingbird at Sunset

Kevin Rysiewski and I have been scoping all the pines in our area of Macomb… We are looking for Red Crossbills… According to Ebird, this will be a good year to see them in Michigan and we both are trying to see them for our 2012 list… I got a text from Kevin tonite close to sunset that he was at Pine Valley Golf course in Macomb County at 31 mi and Romeo Plank checking out the pines on the course for Crossbills when he saw a bird perched on top of a pine…. Kevin looked thru his binoculars and lo and behold a Northern Mockingbird was on the course… I have never seen one in Michigan… I know that they are around and people in the Ann Arbor area see them regularly, but they are pretty uncommon in Macomb County… I hopped in my car and headed that way… I only live 10 minutes from this location…. I met Kevin at the club house and we headed out to where he found it…. It took about 30 minutes but we relocated the Northern Mockingbird (228) on the edge of the property, west of romeo plank…. I managed some pics as the sun was setting… I will go back when its bright outside….   The bird was approachable…. good thing the golf course was empty… Fore!!!!!!!

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

 

Lk St. Clair Metropark – Good Morning

I had some time before work today so I headed to Lk St. Clair Metropark at dawn… I was scoping the North Marsh and looking at a Pintail, Green-winged Teals, Northern Shoveler and Wood Ducks when all of a sudden 4 Long-billed Dowitchers(227) came in for a landing…. I watched them for a while and they got spooked by something and took off… All of a sudden a Merlin came racing out of the Marsh and flew right over my head, heading toward the main parking lot… its winter hangout. I could not relocate the Dowitchers right away and I wanted to drive over to the DNR pointe, so I left… Nothing to note at the pointe, but I texted Kevin and told him about the Dowitchers… He came out to the park so he could find them also. I waited and we gathered our equipment and headed down the fisherman’s trail on the side of the marsh so that we could get a deeper look into the mud flats with our scope…. We set up our scopes and within just a minute or two we found one Long-billed Dowitcher… We looked at it for a minute until something spooked the whole marsh and all the shorebirds in the marsh, including Killdeers and a few Greater Yellowlegs, took off for the skies… Yep, a Northern Harrier came skimming over the long grass of the marsh and began what would be a show for about an hour….

While we were viewing the multiple Duck species and trying to relocate the Dowitchers, we heard a high peeping note and looked up as a flock of Black-bellied Plovers came over our heads… Wait, one of them did not have a black arm pit…. yep, sure enough there was an American Golden Plover mixed in with the bunch…. They would not land and just kept circling…. I managed a couple of pics and boom they were gone…

In addition to the Northern Harrier (there were two), we saw Sharp-shinned Hawks, Coopers Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk and a couple of Turkey Vultures… The Crows on the little island in the marsh attacked every Bird of Prey that came near it…. it was comical to watch…. most of the hawks turned and gave chase at the crows…..

One large flock of Chimney Swifts that we estimated at 50 to 60 birds hovered over the marsh…. White-crowned Sparrow and Winter Wren were along the trail….

Crow chasing Northern Harrier

Harrier chasing Harrier

Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk chasing Crow

Black-bellied Plovers with one American Golden Plover bringing up the rear

 

Black-bellied Plover and one American Golden Plover

Pied-Billed Grebe enjoying breakfast

 

 

Non Breeding Terns…. They can be tricky

I spoke with Kevin Rysiewski today who said that he had a Tern near Eastwood Beach at Stoney Creek Metropark… He thought it was a Common, but it was in a group of gulls and sleeping so it was hard for him to tell… I headed out there after work and took some photos…. I find fall terns confusing at times… This one had a full black cap, yet the bill was turning dark for the winter… There was no dark carpal area that I would see in a young Common, however I wouldn’t see it in an adult… In the sitting position on the beach, the primaries looked very dark, almost black… The tail and the wing projection were fairly close when looking directly at the side, but there was a slight edge to the tail be slightly longer… The legs appeared more red to me than orange…. Crossley describes the Common as compact and well proportioned with a rounded undercarriage…  This bird fits that description to the T… Plus its October and I would already expect Forster’s Tern to have their nonbr. plumage since they change more early than Common Terns…. So I am calling this a Common Tern (226). If anyone has a difference of an opinion please feel free to leave a comment…

I also visited Eastwood Beach this morning at Stoney Creek Metropark and then ran over to the Osprey Trail….  Lake was covered in fog at dawn and there was not much to see…. One Great Blue Heron enjoying the cold, some Pied-billed Grebes and a couple of Bonaparte Gulls mixed in with the usual gang of Ring-billeds…. The Osprey Trail was hopping…. Yellow rumped Warblers, Palm Warblers, Ruby and Golden Crowned Kinglets, 2 Eastern Towhee, multiple Swamp Sparrows, Tufted Titmouse and White-throated Sparrows…..

Before I headed to Stoney to look at the tern, I stopped by Holland Ponds…. Not much to see except a Hermit Thrush and a pair of Ruby crowned Kinglets….  I also found a couple of late season Buckeye Butterflies……

Common Tern

Common Tern

Common Tern

Common Tern

Common Tern

 

Swamp Sparrow

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Great Blue Heron

Buckeye