Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Grand Haven Wednesday Morning

I got to the pier at 6:30 just before the sun was coming over the dunes.  The only shorebirds that I saw were 4 Spotted Sandpipers and a "fly by" yellowlegs species.

Three Caspian Terns flew in at 7:30.  I left the pier at 8:00.

 Spotted Sandpiper

Caspian Terns

- Charlie DeWitt

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Grand Haven Bonaparte's Gulls

These are three of the six Bonaparte's Gulls that were on the Grand Haven north pier this morning.

- Charlie DeWitt

The Other Swallowtail

July 25 Email:

While at the Muskegon Dog Beach (Kruse Park), I saw this swallowtail on the dune stairway. - Carol Cooper

Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly

Thanks, Carol.  I think this species is rarer than the Tiger Swallowtail (posted below from Black Lake Park).  Maybe somebody will let us know.  - Ric

Monday, July 25, 2016

Sanderling and Turnstone at Grand Haven

Sanderling and Ruddy Turnstone


Ruddy Turnstone

I spent an hour at Grand Haven North Pier this morning; these are the only shorebirds that I saw.

- Charlie DeWitt

Stilt Sandpipers at Wastewater on Sunday

Ken Sapkowski emailed yesterday afternoon with this link to Caleb Putnam's eBird list of 49 bird species at the Muskegon County Wastewater Management System including 11 Stilt Sandpipers.

- Ric

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Birding Along Black Lake Saturday Morning

Park Entrance on Wood Rd. 8/10 mile south of Pontaluna.

Last week Charlie DeWitt sent me a slew of great photos he's taken over the years at one of his favorite stomping grounds, Black Lake Park.  They'll be part of a program we're putting together about birding Muskegon County.

Yesterday I wanted to take some site photos and see the new boardwalks for viewing the lake itself.  

Boardwalk at the southwest corner of the park.

It was a warm-to-hot morning but comfortable in the woods except for some annoying mosquitoes and occasional road apples on the trails.  I found 25 bird species in less than two hours, many of them vocalizing.

Highlights included this Osprey out over the lake, Yellow-billed Cuckoo (presumably the same bird singing from south, east and north), Belted Kingfisher, Pileated Woodpecker, Great Crested Flycatcher, Indigo Bunting and all the usual suspects except Eastern Bluebird 

Boardwalk at the northwest corner of the park.

Tiger Swallowtail on the field north of the parking lot.

It's impressive how many trails this park provides through various habitats considering how relatively small it is! 

- Ric

Sunday, July 17, 2016

More Field Trip Pictures from Yesterday

Carol Cooper sends these photos from yesterday's field trip.   

Great Crested Flycatcher

Eastern Phoebe

Monarch Butterfly

Pearl Crescent Butterfly

Click here for the trip report with photos by Charlie DeWitt.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Tattler Heads-Up


Just a heads up that the Wandering Tattler eBird report from Leelanau Co. MI on July 10 does indeed appear to be a tattler species based on the attached photos just received:

It would be well worth checking all rocky jetties along Lake Michigan certainly including the large ones at Pere Marquette Park, but others as well. The bird was not seen in the same areas on two subsequent visits according to Lee.

Good Birding,
- Caleb Putnam

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Rails and Wrens at the Nature Preserve

July 11 Email:

Hi Ric,

Members of your group may be interested in knowing that I've been getting good sightings of both a pair of Virginia Rails and several Marsh Wrens at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve.  I've just stood quietly on the boardwalk to the observation deck and during times when there aren't many other people around, both species will come out in the open occasionally.  I also saw three fledgling Marsh Wrens on Sunday, but I wasn't able to get a photo of them.  Feel free to post any of the photos that I've attached.

- Jerry Vis

Thursday, July 7, 2016

July 16 Field Trip ( New Directions )

Due to road construction on East River Road, anyone planning to participate in our July 16 field trip should click here to see the new directions posted on our homepage.

- Ric

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Grassland and Woodland Birds on Saturday

Early yesterday morning I birded the fields south of Apple Avenue on the Wastewater properties, then the south side of the Maple River from State Game Area headquarters west to the "snipe field" (and then the field itself west to the woods).

Dickcissels, Upland Sandpipers and Grasshopper Sparrows were scattered around the WW fields south of Apple, these three using the same sprinkler rig west of Swanson Road.

Other birds of interest in the 31 species were Green Heron, Sandhill Crane, Common Raven (two flying north of Laketon west of Seba interacting in a playful dogfight), Field, Vesper, Savannah & Song Sparrows, and Indigo Bunting.

I also found 31 species at SGA including Black-billed Cuckoo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Veery, Wood Thrush, Cedar Waxwing, Chipping, Field, Song & Swamp Sparrows, Indigo Bunting, and this male Common Yellowthroat playing hide-and-seek.

I may have heard one distant Sedge Wren, but I didn't record any, unlike a week ago when they were on both sides of the two-track crossing this field.

No insects of concern at the Wastewater, but deer flies were evident all over the SGA with mosquitoes quite bothersome in the shaded, non-breezy areas.

- Ric

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Fledgling Blue Jay

Mike Vanderstelt emails this photo today with the message, "Just on the fence in the yard."

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Sedge Wren Morning

As previously posted (May 29 below), I missed Sedge Wrens last month at their usual location at Hofma Preserve.  But today Roger Newell and I found them at two Muskegon County locations! 

Making a "dry run" for our club's July 16 field trip, Roger and I birded four locations.  At the old Ferguson Farm on East River Road we found 33 bird species including Wood Duck, Great Blue and Green Heron, Sandhill Crane, American Woodcock (which burst from the trail before we stepped on it), Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Wood Thrush, Field Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, and several Sedge Wrens including this one on the wet field south of the foot bridge over Little Cedar Creek.

We birded two locations on Holton Duck Lake Road south of River Road, the bridge over the creek and the boat launch at the Muskegon River near the old Walleye Ponds, finding 26 species.  We saw a Prothonotary Warbler on the lily pads west of the bridge and a Yellow-throated Vireo in the trees near the boat launch dueting with another west along the river.

We concluded our morning at State Game Area headquarters birding along the Maple River west to the "snipe field".  Among the 22 species were Green Heron, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Veery, Indigo Bunting and several Sedge Wrens on the field.

Hopefully the wrens will stick around for our July trip.

- Ric

Thursday, June 23, 2016

July 16 Field Trip Now Posted

Back from Kauai (where "trash birds" were Common Minas, Red Junglefowl, Zebra Doves and Cattle Egrets) I've posted details for the July 16 field trip on our homepage.

- Ric

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

2016 Shorebird Survey - Record Season

Every spring (and again in the fall) since 2004, the Inter-
national Shorebird Survey (ISS) has been conducted at the Muskegon Wastewater System.  Per protocol, one census is conducted roughly every ten days from early April to mid June, so this equates to eight sessions, with each lasting 2-3 hours and covering all likely habitat north and south of Apple Avenue. Principal observers have comprised Carolyn Weng and myself; this year, I completed all eight spring surveys.

Spring 2016 proved to be the best in our long participation with the ISS. Our overall total of 1,349 individual shorebirds of 21 species sets new records for both number and diversity. The historical spring averages were 561 birds of 16 species.

Three of the eight daily sessions established new records for both numbers and diversity:

mid-April (19th): 94 birds, 8 species
late April (28th): 104 birds, 8 species
late May (27th): 511 birds, 12 species
Plus, mid-May (19th) set a new record with 294 birds

Nine of the 21 species set or tied seasonal record totals (noted in the final table). Plus, seven species established new one-day records:

Greater Yellowlegs - 28 on April 19; previous daily record 28
Lesser Yellowlegs - 44 on May 6; previous daily record 39
Stilt Sandpiper - 1 on May 27; ties previous daily record
Sanderling - 3 on May 27; ties previous daily record
Least Sandpiper - 77 on May 19; previous daily record 51
Semipalmated Sandpiper - 383 on May 27; previous daily record 32
Wilson's Snipe - 8 on April 19; previous daily record 2

Here are the full results, with this year's grand totals and past historical averages:

Black-bellied Plover - 1; mean 2.3
Semipalmated Plover - 34; mean 7.5
Killdeer - 154; mean 127.9
Spotted Sandpiper - 232; mean 128.1; previous record 207
Solitary Sandpiper - 1; mean 0.7
Greater Yellowlegs - 40; mean 6.1; previous record 22
Willet - 1; mean 2.9
Lesser Yellowlegs - 114; mean 32.7; previous record 81
Upland Sandpiper - 29; mean 16.7; previous record 28
Ruddy Turnstone - 1; mean 5.0
Stilt Sandpiper - 1; mean 0.3; ties previous record
Sanderling - 3; mean 0.9; ties previous record
Dunlin - 101; mean 88.8
Least Sandpiper - 83; mean 34.1; previous record 65
White-rumped Sandpiper - 10; mean 10.5
Pectoral Sandpiper - 38; mean 8.2
Semipalmated Sandpiper - 491; mean 77.9; previous record 169
Short-billed Dowitcher - 1; mean 3.4
Wilson's Snipe - 8; mean 0.8; previous record 2
Wilson's Phalarope - 5; mean 3.3
Red-necked Phalarope - 1; mean 0.3

Of the 21 species encountered this spring, 16 exceeded historical norms. Five dropped below average, but aside from White-rumped Sandpiper, these were uncommon species whose long-term means can be skewed by one exceptional year. Counts of Semipalmated Plover, Greater Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, and Wilson's Snipe all exceeded previous averages by an amazing factor of four or more. Semipalmated Sandpipers were especially noteworthy; counts of 28 on June 11 and, especially, 383 on May 27 were outstanding.

Photos:  Upland Sandpiper, Wilson's Phalarope, White-rumped Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper.

- Brian Johnson