Monday, July 29, 2013

300 for Michigan!

Seeing 300 species of birds in Michigan has long been a goal of mine and one that finally seemed within reach at the beginning of this summer.  When I returned from school this May my Michigan list stood at 293 and I was able to see this male Eurasian Wigeon on the drive home to bring my list to 294.

Over the next few weeks I was able to add Lark Sparrow, Piping Plover, and Tricolored Heron, bringing my total to 297 at the end of May.
Once June hit, the birding predictably slowed down and the Black-necked Stilt at Shiawassee NWR was my only state bird during the month.

A heard only Western Meadowlark in Berrien county while I was on my way to Indiana finally brought me within one of three hundred.  My chance to get to 300 came just four days later when a Glossy Ibis was reported at Pointe Mouillee.  Unlike many Ibis there, this one stayed in the same small area for several days, making for an easy chase.  Photos proved more difficult, however, since views were usually obstructed by vegetation.  Once it flew to a slightly different spot and I was able to get an ok flight shot.
Although there was little else of note at Mouillee on that hot muggy July day I was thrilled to finally reach 300 after 6 years of birding this great state.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Birding the Point Pelee Area

This morning Karl Overman and I crossed the border into Ontario to bird Point Pelee National Park and the surrounding area.  Today was not one of the best days for Pelee but we still managed 20 species of warblers including these three.

The biggest surprise at the park was a flyby Surf Scoter Karl spotted coming in near West Beach.
Black-billed Cuckoo and Mourning Warbler were the other highlights but were heard only.

We moved on to Hillman Marsh where we found a large flock of Black-bellied Plovers and this Whimbrel along with a few hundred Dunlin.

A visit to the Blenheim Sewage Lagoons capped off our day.  There were hundreds of swallows, and a good variety of ducks, but the Wilson's Phalaropes stole the show.  We counted at least five including a few brightly colored females.

The Dunlins were extremely cooperative as well.
All of a sudden nearly all the shorebirds spooked and took off.  We soon discovered the reason, this sharp adult Peregrine Falcon.
Although our species total was a little on the low side for mid-May with 105 species it was a fun day to be out birding in an area I don't visit that often.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Black-tailed Godwit

My brother has been complaining about my neglect of my blog lately so I figured I should post something.  In Late March the Black-tailed Godwit which had showed up at Chincoteague NWR last fall reappeared and was showing much more reliably.  One Saturday morning I was able to drive out and see it along with many other shorebirds.

This sharp American Oystercatcher was hanging out with the Willets and Godwits for most of the time I was there.

The Black-tailed Godwit is the bird on the left in this photo.  The white underwings are the key field mark that separates it from the similar Hudsonian Godwit.

The next two photos show how it was slightly smaller and paler overall than the Marbled Godwits in addition to the black tail.

This trip was a nice way to start off the spring with a Code 4 Eurasian vagrant.  Seeing a few Piping Plovers and a wild pony were really nice highlights as well.  Chincoteague is always a fun place to visit.