End of the year synopsis – Macomb County

My goal for Macomb County in 2012 was 200 species. I exceeded that goal by 33 species. I know of at least 4 other people who also made if over the 200 species mark for the year in the county.. The top dog had 241… No names but his initials are T.H. 🙂  It was a crazy year to say the least… Global Warming, end of the Mayan Calendar, El Nino, whatever…. it was crazy…


Started with a bang… Snowy Owl at DNR Pointe, Long-Tailed Duck at Lk. St. Clair Metropark, Merlin in the parking lot and a Bald Eagle over the North Marsh… on Jan 2nd I found a Sharp-shinned Hawk munching on a sparrow on 28 mi rd and almost hit a Red-headed Woodpecker as it flew in front of my car at Stoney.. Other interesting birds seen in January were a Northern Shrike and a Red-shouldered Hawk at Wetzel, Lapland Longspurs and Purple Sandpipers at Lk. St. Clair Metropark.  Outside of the county I had Great Gray Owl outside of Windsor and White-winged Crossbills at Indian Springs Metropark…. By the end of the Month I had 68 birds on my county list..


I found Glaucous Gulls and Northern Harrier at Lk St. Clair Metropark on Feb 1st… I bumped into Kevin Rysiewski that day and we birded together… Kevin was somewhat newer to birding at that point… maybe a year or two… I am sure that early in the year, he did not plan on adding 100 birds to his life list… but that is what he did in 2012…  I also managed to see Belted Kingfisher that day at Stoney Creek… a few days later I saw my first Common Redpolls of the year at Stoney Creek Metropark and some Pine Siskens also that month.. On Feb 4th I got an email from Brian Mcgee informing me that a Lesser Black-backed Gull was on the ice at Stoney… I added that to my list followed by a Cackling Goose the next day…. I got a digiscoped image of the Cackling standing next to a Canada Goose….  I found a Sandhill Crane hanging with the Geese at Stoney this month and also Winter Wren at Lk. St. Clair Metropark…  I tried for and found a Carolina Wren at Shelby River Bends park…. The month ended with me finding an Eastern Screech Owl hanging out in a Wood Duck box at Lk. St. Clair Metropark…. at this point I had 84 species for the County list….


March started out a little slow… I had a work trip to Austin and was gone for a week… I found a large flock of Robins in the beginning of the month and had a Northern Harrier buzz by my yard.. Stoney Creek Metropark was good for the usual Common Mergansers, Common Goldeneye and some Redheads… March 10th the Woodcock returned to the area behind my house…. there peeent call to be heard every night for the next several months… The first Fox Sparrow of many I found this year was seen on March 12th at the Inwood Trails at Stoney Creek… also found my first Golden-crowned Kinglets of the year…. Later that day I found the first Wilson’s Snipe of the year behind my house… March 15th, the Rusty Blackbirds showed up at Wetzel, just as Tom Heatley told me they would… They were mixed in with Common Grackles and Cowbirds… 1st Eastern Phoebe of the year found on that day. March 20th I found my first Field Sparrow of the year at Wolcott Mills Metropark.. a day later at Stoney Creek I found a Common Loon on the lake and an Eastern Meadowlark near the Inwood Trails… Savannah Sparrows and Common Egrets showed up at Wetzel on March 22nd… Ended the month with the first Chipping Sparrow of the year at Wolcoltt, Forester’s and Caspian Terns and a Sora at Lk. St. Clair Metropark and White-winged Crossbills in Shelby Twp… Macomb List at 115..


April started off with some Lesser Yellowlegs at Macomb Corners Park.. on April 13th, I found a pair of Vesper Sparrows on Kuntsman Rd… Greater Yellowlegs and Pectoral Sandpipers at the ponds behind Walmart on Hall Rd…. At Lk. St. Clair Metropark the Owlet was visible in the bucket and Brown Thrashers were calling…. I saw a couple of Short-eared Owls early in the month. I managed a couple of photographs, but I was asked to keep the location quiet…  April 16th brought some Dunlins to Macomb Corners park and Broad Winged Hawk flying over Wolcott… on April 17th I saw Pine Warblers at Stoney Creek and also a few Blue-gray Gnatcatchers…. April 18th Stoney Creek was good for Semipalmated Plovers and Cliff Swallows and Macomb Corners was holding several Solitary Sandpipers… End of the month brought Virginia Rails, Marsh Wrens, Yellow Warblers, Eastern Towhee and my month highlight…. a Red Knot!!!! I almost crashed my car trying to get to Lk. St. Clair Metropark when Tom called me about that one!!  Beautiful bird…. End of the month County list was 148….


May is the busiest month of the year… I started the year at Wetzel on the 1st… Clay-colored Sparrows had arrived… In the first couple of weeks at various locations I managed to get all the early warbler migrants and vireos… Notable was the Yellow-headed Blackbird found by Brian Mcgee and his daughter Marie at LSCMP… Later that day I had Bobolinks in the fields behind my yard. This was a good year for Orchard Orioles and I had them in May at multiple locations including Wolcott, Stoney Creek Metropark, Waldenburg Park… Sedge Wrens arrived at Wetzel on May 6th and could be found there all spring… Wayne Hoch and I found a Cape May Warbler in a tree right near the parking lot…. Wetzel was the best spot around for Black-billed Cuckoos…. I saw several during the month of may in multiple locations in the park…. On May 9th I got my first Barred Owl of the year on the habitat trail at Stoney Creek… May 12th, Kevin Rysiewski and I did a Macomb County Big Day Count…. our total for the day was 116 species with the highlight being a Gray-cheeked Thrush at LSCMP.  May 15th I managed a Golden-winged Warbler at Macomb Corners Park…. I found another pair of Vesper Sparrows in May….. Shorebirds started showing up at LSCMP at the end of the month and I managed to get Black-bellied Plover, Wilson Phalarope and White-rumped Sandpiper in addition to the common varieties… One of the last birds of the month was Grasshopper Sparrows near Wolcott Mills Metropark on a Tip from Kevin Rysiewski. Kevin and I also got a call from Tom Heatley that he and Barb Baldinger had found Yellow-billed Cuckoo’s along 28 mile Rd…  I ended the month with county total of 208 birds for the year…


June started with a Ruddy Turnstone at Stoney Creek Metropark on the Osprey Trails… New shorebirds were still showing up at LSCMP and I added Sanderling and Semipalmated Plover to the list…Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrived at my feeders and would be there all year…. I found a pair of Acadian Flycatchers on the Habitat Trail at Stoney Creek Nature Center and a Yellow-throated Vireo singing near the beginning of the nature trails… June 8th I saw a Yellow-crowned Night Heron at the Ford House that Wayne Hoch had found…. I got a tip from Mike Mencotti on June 9th that he had found a Dickcissel on Inwood Rd…. A lifer for me, I was able to get some great pics….. I ended June with only 5 new birds and my county list at 213..


Slowest month of the year… Only new bird was the Black-crowned Night Heron I saw at LSCMP. I would see many more there before the end of summer…. Shorebirds were still at LSCMP in good numbers, just nothing new… Highlight of the month was the Leucistic songbird that Kevin and I found at Wetzel…. Never did figure out what it was…. County list 214


In the beginning of the month, I finally got to see my first Common Nighthawk of the year in downtown Utica…. By the second week of August, shorebird activity was really picking up at LSCMP… Whimbrel, Bairds and Short-billed Dowitcher were the highlights… I found an Olive Sided Flycatcher on the 20th at LSCMP in Point Rosa Marsh and was able to see the American Bittern that was found by Tom Heatley in the marsh with the gazebo…. awesome bird… On Aug 29th, Tom found a Stilt Sandpiper at Wetzel…. Kevin found some Purple Finches at Stoney Creek…. Dang!  these guys were finding everything!!  I ended the month by relocating and photographing the Buff-breasted Sandpiper found by Tom Heatley… It was at that moment I told myself that I am buying these guys dinner at the end of the year (I made good on the promise… we ate like pigs at Bad Brads BBQ yesterday)…. What a great network!! Ended the month at 222 county birds…


Kevin and I kept watch on an area north of my home… Broughton Rd between 25 and 28 mile is a series of Sod farms and cabbage farms… we were hoping to get some plovers landing in this area during migration…. Sure enough I get an email from Kevin and there is a American Golden Plover at 27 mi and Broughton on Sep 3rd. On September 15th, Tom Heatley found a Red-necked Phalarope at LSCMP in the North Marsh…. way, way out there…. I scoped it… I traveled for work this month and was very busy, so not much birding… ended up with 224 County birds by the end…


Scoped a Northern Pintail in LSCMP (Lake St. Clair Metropark) in the 2nd…. Finally got a Common Tern at Stoney Creek… Kevin had seen them several times, but they were gone by the time I got off of work…. finally found one on the beach in the evening on the 8th… On the 9th I birded with Kevin at LSCMP in the North Marsh… I had found a few Long-billed Dowitchers there at dawn, and I was hoping to relocate them for Kevin… we did and also had American Golden Plover, Black-bellied Plovers and Northern Harrier in the North Marsh…. great fall day…Oct 15th I did the Big Sit and had a great time… 53 Species…. Kevin Rysiewski found a Northern Mockingbird on October 12th… very cool find for Macomb County…. ended the month with 228 County birds on the list…


Highlights were the White-winged Scoter and the Red-necked Grebe…. both at LSCMP…. Even managed to photograph them both in the same frame…. On November 27th I managed to see the Iceland Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull at Brandenburg Park that Tom and Alan Ryff had found the day before… I did not locate the Thayers that they had seen… On a tip from Tom, I found a Bohemian Waxwing in Armada in with a group of Cedars on the 28th…. On November 30th I saw my third Northern Shrike in 3 days!.. Ended the month with my Macomb County list at 232 species


I chased around a flock of Redpolls at Wetzel in the beginning of the month… Looking for a Hoary…. never did find one, so Common they were…. Participated in the Macomb Audubon Christmas county…. Lots of fun… birded my butt off but didn’t find anything special…. I covered an area of farm land and golf course between 27 and 28 mile rd… Highlight of the month was Long-eared Owls…. they were in a location that I can not share because it is on Private Land…. However, they were very cool to see… this was a lifer for me…. Ended my year at 233 Macomb County Birds….

My Favorite bird of the year was the Great Gray Owl outside of Windsor… Awesome, incredible bird…. My favorite County bird was probaly the Dickcissel… I have always wanted to see one… and to see one so close to my home… it was a real treat…. Purple Sandpipers, Snowy, Short-eared and Long-eared Owls, White-rumped, Buff-breasted, Bairds Sandpipers and Stilt Sandpiper, American Golden Plovers, Whimbrel, Red Knot, Red-necked and Wilsons Phalarope, American Bittern, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Bohemian Waxwing, Dickcissels, Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Iceland and Glaucous Gulls, Red-necked Grebe, Lapland Longspurs, Red-shouldered Hawks and Northern Shrikes… the list goes on and on….. it was a phenomonal year in Macomb….

My Favorite part of the year was birding with what I call the Macomb Birding Network…. I have always been a loner when it comes to birding…. I meet people on the trail and chat, but thats about it…. This year I spent my year birding and networking with really great people and developed some great friendships…. Tom Heatley, Kevin Rysiewski, Alan Ryff, Barb Baldinger, Wayne Hoch, Brian and Marie Mcgee, Jim Fowler, Joanna Pease, Michael Dziadosz (my favorite photographer), Mike Mencotti (I know he’s an oakland guy now, but will always be a macomber to me. LOL) Brandon and many more….    You all contributed to what was the most fun I have had birding in many years. I cant wait to see what 2013 will bring…

Thanks to all who read my blog…. if you have read this far in my synopsis for the year…. You really are dedicated…   🙂





End of the year get together…..

Tom Heatley, Kevin Rysiewski and I met for an End of the Year dinner last night….. I owed them both for helping me have a banner year in the county for 2012…. I work full time and thus my ability to being in the field and finding every bird on my list would have been impossible if it weren’t for the three of us “networking”…. In addition I received great info from Brian Mcgee and his daughter Marie, Wayne Hoch, Mike Mencotti and a few others….

It was a good time talking about all the different species that were seen between the three of us…. Unless some new birds are found in the next day or so, I ended up with 233 species for the year in Macomb County…. Kevin I believe is at 234 and Tom at 241….

I am not sure what I am going to do for 2013…. I have a new job that is going to eliminate most of my birding Mon – Fri except in the evenings…. I am thinking on not having a goal for any lists, but instead using my observation and sightings from 2012 and studying migration and breeding patterns of certain species in the county….

Only 1 week left in 2012

One week left and 2012 is history… I set out this year to do a Macomb County List for the first time… I am currently at 233 Species for the year, all of it documented on this blog and my old one (this current blog is a few months old… old blog link is on first page)….  Its been a great year because I spent so much time in the field, I really learned about the county…. I worked in tandem with some great birders, some very experienced and some newer to birding in the last 2 or 3 years…. We all worked together to see and share with each other on what we found…. it made for a fun year…. I will write a synopsis at the end of the year…. but I sit here on Christmas day debating on whether I should be checking Stoney Creek right now for a Snow Goose that still eludes me, or maybe some fields for a Rough-legged Hawk…..   No, I am gonna sit at home, enjoy the family and not worry too much about this week….  Unless Kevin or Tom call me with a rarity….. then I am gone…. LOL!!!

Running here and there…..

I started the morning early looking for the Snowy Owl on North River Rd in Harrison Twp…. No luck… I then moved onto Brandenburg Park…. a Large group of about 300 gulls were sitting in there usual spot, but the sun was behind them and blinding me… I couldn’t see a thing… There was a large raft of Ruddy Ducks, approx 200 near the pier… There were a few Common Mergansers about…. Not much there, so I headed to Wetzel and bumped into Kevin Rysiewski…. We took a walk and looked for the Long-eared Owl that had been reported… No luck there so we found the flock of Common Redpolls and looked for a Hoary…. No Hoary today, but we had fun chasing this flock around…. they are cool birds…. Also found some Brown Creepers and a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers…..

Ruddy Ducks

Ruddy Ducks


Common Merganser taking off... walking on water...

Common Merganser taking off… walking on water…

Love the way a Common Merganser takes flight, walking on the water...

Love the way a Common Merganser takes flight, walking on the water…

Common Redpolls in the tree

Common Redpolls in the tree

Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll


Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Long-eared Owls

This Owl has eluded me on my life list… I knew of locations where they could be found, I just never took the time to go look for them… I figured that eventually I would come across them…. Today I went and seen a couple in an undisclosed location…. Undisclosed because it is on private land and it is not an easy location to find…. I was unable to get any good pics of the Long-eared Owls because they were in the thickest nastiest parts of a group of pines…. I barely was able to get a photo….  I also managed to get a shot of a Imm Red-Tailed Hawk that was sitting on a wire not too far from my house…. good looking young bird….

Long-eared Owl

Long-eared Owl

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Long-eared Owl

Long-eared Owl

Long-eared Owl... photo taken by Birder of the Year in Macomb County Finalist

Long-eared Owl… photo taken by Birder of the Year in Macomb County Finalist