Monday, December 20, 2010

King Eider

When I saw that a female King Eider was seen about an hour away in Algonac on Saturday I knew where I would go birding on Sunday. I was able to convince my dad to take me down there and we arrived at about 1:30 Sunday afternoon. The birders there informed me that the bird had just disappeared behind some private docks. I found out, however, that if I lay in the snow I could see under the docks and see it. I spent the next fifteen or so minutes lying in the snow trying to get pictures and good looks of it but I wasn't having much luck. The birds finally moved out from the dock a bit so I went back to the car to get my scope and left my camera since I figured I couldn't get any good pictures. Naturally the birds moved closer while I was gone so by the time I came back I didn't need my scope and I wanted my camera. After another trip back to the car I was able to get some better photos. I talked to Alan Ryff while I was watching the bird, and we were leaning toward it being a first year female but weren't 100% sure.
I was happy to get such a great bird for my 300th bird of the year, it was my 353rd lifer as well.
Besides the King Eider I also saw an Iceland Gull fly by with hundreds of Ring-billed and Herring Gulls. It was definitely a worthwhile trip.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pileated Woodpecker

I went to Lakeshore Park in Novi yesterday hoping to turn up some owls. I spent about an hour searching but came up empty although I did hear a Brown Creeper. As I was about to get to my car, however, a huge Pileated Woodpecker flew into a nearby tree. I was surprised to see it begin to eat Poison Ivy berries since I don't usually think of Woodpeckers (with the exception of the Red-bellied) as fruit eaters. I think a nearby Red-bellied Woodpecker wanted the berries as well because he dove at the Pileated several times and was scolding until it flew across the road. The Pileated was my 190th bird in Oakland County this year, according to the lists published by Scott Jennex this was only done once before this year. This has been an above average year for birds in Oakland, however, and I am the third birder to get over 190 this year.
I stopped by Carpenter Lake today and found four Song Sparrows south of the dam, this was the first time I have seen them there in the winter. There were about ten Dark-eyed juncos in the back as well.
It has been nice to get out the last few days after the terrible weather over the weekend.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Greater White-fronted Goose

I was pretty busy today but I was able to get down to Little Lake just west of Ann Arbor this afternoon to see the Greater White-fronted Goose. I knew it was a good sign when I saw several birders looking at the geese when I pulled up. Sure enough, the Greater White-fronted Goose was there and I was able to get nice views through my binoculars. The pinkish bill really stood out. I was also able to get some pictures although the lighting was less than ideal.
The goose was lifer #352 and was my 299th bird seen this year. Hopefully I'll be able to get to 300 for the year in the next few weeks.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Yellow-throated Warbler in December!

I was pretty surprised when I heard that there was a Yellow-throated Warbler visiting the Eyster's feeder just east of Chelsea a few days ago. Yellow-throated Warblers are extremely rare nesters in southeast Michigan and can only be found regularly in the southwest part of the state. They usually have left the state by the end of September and don't normally winter north of Georgia so a record this late is really unusual. My Mom was going to Ann Arbor today and I was able to persuade her to take me out to see it afterwards. I got there at 3:45 and Mrs. Eyster showed me where the feeders were in the backyard. I spent the next hour freezing in the backyard waiting for the warbler to show up. Just after my Mom had told me we would have to leave in ten minutes, the warbler finally showed up on the feeder! It allowed me to approach relatively closely and I was able to get a few pictures.
I went home very cold but happy that I got great looks at such a beautiful and rare bird. The hour wait was definitely worth it.