Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rough-legged Hawk (lifer #299)

Well, my Mom took me out to Vreeland Rd. again to try to see the Rough-legged Hawk reported yesterday. This has been one of my nemesis birds and I had never seen one even though I am able to drive Vreeland Rd. two or three times a month and have visited the hawk watch at Lake Erie at the right time of year. I started to get worried when I didn't find it in the field near Gotfredson Rd but I found it in the field northeast of the Vreeland- Harris intersection. Its pale head stood out immediately when I first spotted it sitting on the ground for a second or two before it took off and put on a show. I easily saw all of the field marks (black tail band, black carpal patches, white patches at the base of the primaries) as it lazily circled upwards. The sun had just come out from behind the clouds and it was perfectly lit up as well, I wish I could see all of my lifers this well. It then glided across the road and swooped down into the field. After a while it took off again and then started hovering before pouncing in the field again, it then flew off into a tree so I think that it might have caught something that time. Here is the best picture I took of it.
I did check some other spots as well but didn't find much. I dipped on the Mockingbird on Joy Rd. and only found Herring Gulls at Edison Lake and no gulls at all at Visteon. Two Turkey Vultures over the landfills along 275 were the only other birds of note.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Lapland Longspurs

Today I was quite surprised to run into a flock of about 20 Lapland Longspurs on Vreeland Rd. I had heard that there was one hanging out with the horned Larks and Snow Buntings but had not heard of a larger flock since November when there were flocks of hundreds. Lapland Longspurs are usually found in the southern tier of counties in Michigan throughout the winter but get progressively rarer as you move north. Oddly I did not see any of the flock of a hundred or so Snow Buntings that I saw a few weeks ago today. Here is a rather poor picture of the Longspurs in flight, I wanted to get a picture of them on the ground but they would just completely disappear into the corn stubble.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Robert Long Park

I went out to Robert Long this afternoon and had a few birds of note. There were five or so Hooded Mergansers along with the hundreds of Mallards but surprisingly there were no other ducks present. There were no signs of the Greater Scaup, Northern Pintail, Redhead, or American Black Ducks that were there earlier in the month. Here is a pic of the only male Hooded Merg, unfortunately the lighting wasn't very good.
There also were a lot of sparrows in the phragmites near the parking lot, I had 4 Song, 2 American Tree and 1 Swamp.
I also checked the Novi Wetlands for the Northern Shrike but did not find it today. I saw a Red Fox last night on the way home from OCC, surprisingly I think that it is the first one I have seen in Michigan. It almost became the first animal that I ran over but I was able to stop in time.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Beaudette Park

I decided to go out to Beaudette Park this morning despite the rain. I was rewarded with very nice duck variety. There were 8 Canvasbacks, 8 Hooded Mergansers, 4 Ring-necked Ducks, 3 Redheads, 4 Common Goldeneyes, and 4 American Black Ducks in the wide part of the river. Three Wood Ducks, a Belted Kingfisher, and an American Coot were near the boat launch. The highlight of the day was a pair of Trumpeter Swans with some Mute Swans, these are one of my favorite birds and it was really cool to hear them trumpeting for a while before they flew off right by me. Unfortunately it was too rainy to take pictures but here is a picture of some of these ducks that I took at the same location last year.
I also saw a Brown Creeper and a Red-breasted Nuthatch in my yard yesterday morning. This is the first time I have had a Brown Creeper in my yard during the winter, previously I have only had them in migration. Here is a picture I took of one in a nearby park last fall.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Nice Start to the Year

I had a really nice start to 2010 when I saw my first Thayer's and Iceland Gulls at Visteon Pond on January 2nd. I almost got all of the winter gulls in one day as I saw both Lesser Black-backed and Great Black-backed but didn't see a Glaucous Gull. I have continued to do well this month with a Northern Hawk Owl a few days later near Petoskey. We were skiing near there and my Dad took my younger brother and me up to see the owl. When I spotted the bird in a tall pine tree near the road he tried to pull off the road and got stuck in a snowbank. Fortunately someone came by who had a rope and they were able to pull us out. While Hawk Owls are present almost every winter in the UP they are very rare in the Lower Peninsula. Here is a picture I took.
While the birding in Oakland County hasn't been anywhere close to as good as last year when I had Pine Siskins, Common Redpolls, and White-winged Crossbills in my backyard, I have been able to find a few nice birds. The best so far have been a Northern Shrike at the Novi Wetlands and a Northern Goshawk at Heritage park. There has also been a Catbird wintering at Heritage park which is very rare in the winter in Michigan.

This isn't the best picture but Catbirds are awfully hard to photograph due to their sulking habits. I look forward to many more exciting birding experiences in 2010.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

First Post

Hi All, Welcome to my new blog. I live in Farmington Hills Michigan and bird throughout the state and beyond. In this post I will include some pictures of the rarer birds in past years. If you are interested in viewing more of my pictures please visit my flickr site.

Arctic Tern, November 28, 2009, Three Oaks Sewage Ponds, Berrien County, MI

Little Gull, November 28, 2009, Tiscornia Beach, Berrien County, MI
White-winged Crossbill, January 21, 2009, My backyard, Farmington Hills, Oakland County, MI

American Bittern, October 21, 2007 Kensington Metropark, Oakland County, MI

Baird's Sandpiper, August 24, 2008 American Center Marsh, Southfield, Oakland County, MI

Ross's Goose, March 22, 2009, Kensington Metropark, Oakland County, MI