Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Eider and Scoters in the Channel Today

 Common Eider

 White-winged Scoter

 Black Scoter

Greater Scaup

I spent some time at the Muskegon Channel this afternoon and found some good birds.  The Common Eider and White-winged Scoter were by the USS Silversides.  The Black Scoter and Greater Scaup were located from the Channel Drive parking lot.
- Charlie DeWitt

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ravens and Snipes and Lark and Eagle

Terra Berry sends these recent photos taken on the Wastewater properties:  Common Ravens and Wilson Snipes on Saturday February 21, Horned Lark and Bald Eagle on Sunday February 15.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Caught With Its Mouth Open

Sherri Lockard sends this photo from yesterday of a Bald Eagle on the Wastewater properties eating its lunch.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Eider at Channel and Shrike at Wastewater

At 1:00 p.m. to Mich-listers:

[ Common Eider ] seen just now by the lighthouse on the south inner breakwater.  An hour earlier it had been seen at the east end of the breakwater, so it is moving around. 

Dan Fox
Sent from my iPhone
- - - - -

Meanwhile on the gray and gloomy Wastewater properties this morning, the Northern Shrike was back, perched atop a tree south of the elbow on Laketon 1/4 mile west of Swanson.  The Penny's from Grand Rapids Audubon reported 13 Bald Eagles by the Landfill.  I saw 8 of those plus two Red-tailed Hawks, an accipiter (Cooper's Hawk probably) and four light-morph Rough-legged Hawks.

Forty acrobatic American Tree Sparrows provided entertainment south of the model airplane field.  Foraging mostly on the snow, they would occasionally fly up to the tops of the grasses for seeds, sometimes riding the stems back down to the snow.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Muskegon Channel Eider Update and Photo

To Mich-chat Feb. 18 at 6:47 p.m.:

After comparing the December common eider and the current common eider in Muskegon (see Marc Miedema's Feb. 17 post below), I'm not convinced they are the same bird.  However, I don't know how much the head pattern can change in a matter of six weeks through wear or molt.  The head pattern on these two birds is definitely different.  The Muskegon bird also seems darker brown, but that might just be the lighting conditions. I don't think I am supposed to attach photos in Mich-chat, so if you want to see the photos of both birds, send me an email and I'll send them to you.  Please respond with your thoughts after you view the photos.

- Chip Francke

This is Chip's photo from yesterday of the Muskegon eider.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hawk Watching Our Bird Feeders This Morning

Carol just noticed this Red-shouldered Hawk watching ours and our neighbor's bird feeders.  I was able to take a blurry snapshot through the window before it departed.

- Ric

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Eider in Muskegon Channel Today

February 17 to Mich-Listers:


There is an Eider in the Muskegon Channel currently (4:55, 2/17/15).   I don't have any field guides with me, but I think it's a Common Eider.  I managed a grainy digiscope pic with my phone.

Marc Miedema

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Christmas Count Participants over the Years

February 13 conclusion of an email from Brian Johnson:

... I also spent some time cleaning up my version of the Muskegon CBC database, specifically some of my north zone notes. I took a little detour and looked at participants over the years.

There have been 254 observers. Of those:

140 have only assisted once.
66 have helped 2-5 times.
25 have helped 6-10 times.
15 have helped 11-20 times.
8 have participated on more than 20 counts.

George Wickstrom was present on 56.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Two February Oddities

Yesterday afternoon while walking a nearby path, I chanced upon the animal circled in the first photo.  It lay on its back atop the snow in mint condition, though dead.  At anytime of year this would seem odd, but especially in mid-winter.  You may guess what it is before viewing the fifth photo.

Meanwhile the other three photos show a Hermit Thrush that's been feeding (and even singing) at a residence in Norton Shores the last few days.  This is also an odd species to see around here in mid-winter.  When Brian Johnson saw one on December 20 at Muskegon State Park, it was the first ever on a Muskegon Christmas Bird Count.

- Ric

( Star-nosed Mole, Condylura cristata )

Monday, February 9, 2015

Snipe and Larks at Wastewater Friday

February 9 Email:

Good Morning,

Shawn and I took a trip to Muskegon Wastewater this past Friday.
We saw 3 Wilson's Snipes.  We got 2 of them flying and 1 taking a break.  We also saw around 100 Horned Larks.  Thanks!

Terra Berry

Newaygo Banded Bald Eagle

February 9 Email:

Hi Ric, 

I was going to comment on your banded eagle post (see Bruce Delamarter's photo posted January 23 below) but was unable to add the picture of the banded eagle Shawn and I saw the same day (1-23) in Newaygo County north of White Cloud.  I am sending you a few photos of the one we saw.  Unfortunately we did not notice the band until we looked at the photos, so we did not get a close up of the band to be able to read it.

Have a great birding day,
Terra Berry

Terra, thanks for the report and photos.  I don't know which local Bald Eagle nests (if any) are still having their babies banded, but this time of year there are plenty of them down here from further north as well.  Based on the "saw-toothed" look of the flight feathers on the back edge of the wings (longer ones are juvenile first-year feathers still retained in second year), I'm guessing this bird was born and banded in 2013.  The banded eagle that Bruce photographed on that same day posted below is a juvenile born in 2014.  - Ric

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Peanut Butter Rabbit

February 2 Email:

I put out peanut butter on different branches for the birds and squirrels at the nature preserve.  Who knew rabbits like it too?  Not the greatest picture, but I did capture the rabbit eating it off the branch.

- Carol Cooper

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Not Many Channel Ducks Today

Hoping for the odd duck I birded the Muskegon and Grand Haven Channels this morning.  There were only a few dozen ducks spread out in each channel, none unusual, mainly Greater Scaup and Common Goldeneye.  (For the amusement of my competitors I recorded Year Birds #48 Greater Scaup and #49 Bufflehead.)

There was open water at Muskegon from the Silversides out to Lake Michigan and at Grand Haven west of Harbor Island almost to Lake Michigan where a few acres of ice separated the channel water from the big lake.

- Ric

Male Greater Scaup and Long-tailed Duck pair at Muskegon

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bouncing Blue Jays

On a walk in the woods this morning I stopped to watch four Blue Jays interacting high in a tree.  For five minutes, staying just a few feet from each other, they bounced up and down on the springy branches calling single musical notes with an occasional frog-like rattly sound.  A few times two of them leaped into the air and interacted with their feet for a few seconds, then settled back to the branches to continue the bouncy routine with the others.

I couldn't keep the birds straight so I don't know if one individual was always one of the two flyers.  I'm guessing this was some sort of male-female thing.  But maybe they were just trying to stay warm.  Or simply having fun?

- Ric

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Photographing Birds at the Nature Preserve

This morning I photographed birds near the pavilion feeders at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve.  Except for a pair of American Robins all were the usual winter species.  Several wore Jewelry by Brian.

Except for House Sparrows,
American Tree Sparrows outnumbered the rest.

Lots of Northern Cardinals too,

plus Blue Jays,

House Finches, Dark-eyed Juncos,

and Black-capped Chickadees (this one without a band).

- Ric