Friday, May 6, 2016

Ohio Field Trip

Ten or more Muskegon County Nature Club members spent May 3-5 looking for birds at Magee Marsh, Crane Creek, and other areas along the Lake Erie shoreline east of Toledo.  In total the group recorded more than 80 bird species (see list below).

Here are some of my photos from Magee Marsh plus two fantastic shots Thursday morning by Charlie DeWitt of a pair of battling flickers!

Snowy Egret May 3

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher May 3

White-throated Sparrow May 3 

Yellow-rumped Warbler May 3

Snake May 3

Lesser Scaup May 3

Prothonotary Warbler May 4

Muskrat May 4 (Do the white eyes and muzzle mean he's old?)

American Woodcock May 5

"Just another Prothonotary Warbler" May 5

Leopard Frog puffing his song on May 5

The battle of Northern Flickers May 5 by Charlie DeWitt

"There's not enough room in Ohio for the two of us!"

Hopefully Charlie and Carol DeWitt will post more of their photos when they get a chance!  - Ric

- - -

American Coot, American Goldfinch, American Robin, American Woodcock, Bald Eagle (American also, of course), Baltimore Oriole, Barn Swallow, Black-and-White Warbler, Black-capped Chickadee, Black-throated Green Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Blue Jay, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, Bonaparte's Gull, Brown Thrasher, Brown-headed Cowbird, Canada Goose, Caspian Tern, Chimney Swift, Common Grackle, Common Tern, Common Yellowthroat, Double-crested Cormorant, Downy Woodpecker, Eastern Bluebird, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Towhee, European Starling, Gray Catbird, Great Blue Heron, Great Crested Flycatcher, Great Egret, Hairy Woodpecker, Hermit Thrush, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, House Wren, Killdeer, Lesser Scaup, Mallard, Mourning Dove, Nashville Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Northern Flicker, Northern Parula, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Orange-crowned Warbler, Ovenbird, Palm Warbler, Pied-billed Grebe, Prothonotary Warbler, Purple Martin, Red-eyed Vireo, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-winged Blackbird, Ring-billed Gull, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Sandhill Crane, Savannah Sparrow, Scarlet Tanager, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Snowy Egret, Song Sparrow, Sora, Spotted Sandpiper, Swamp Sparrow, Tree Swallow, Trumpeter Swan, Turkey Vulture, Veery, Warbling Vireo, White-breasted Nuthatch, White-crowned Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Winter Wren, Wood Duck, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, an unidentified Empidonax Flycatcher and an unidentified Catharis thrush (Gray-cheeked/Swainson's).

Two of our non-birding members probably saw the Yellow-breasted Chat near the east end of the Magee Marsh boardwalk on Thursday morning too, but that's another story.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Piping Plover at Muskegon County Wastewater

 Piping Plover

Piping Plover

While birding the Wastewater today Feller and I met Dave Elbrect from Grand Rapids.  He said that there was a Piping Plover in the small drawn down cell (the same one that the American Avocets were found in).  Feller and I checked it out and found the plover on the east side of the cell. Thanks, Dave!

As far as I can tell the right leg is banded orange on top, yellow on bottom.  The left leg band looks like a white or light gray on top and a blue or dark green on the bottom. The bird was a long way off for my camera/lens.

- Charlie DeWitt

This morning Mike Boston emailed that he had photographed the Piping Plover at the Wastewater before 8:00 but was unable to post it.  Below is the photo that Mike took.  If you open it in a new tab and zoom in, you can see some of the band colors that Charlie described.  - Ric

Sue Stamy Released the Snowy Owl

Regarding Friday's post below ("Injured Snowy Owl Re-habbing"), Sue Stamy released the bird earlier this week at the Old Channel Trail golf course north of Montague.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Piping Plover at Meinert Park

April 24 Email:

Hi Ric,

Just wanted to pass on to you that on Friday I observed a Piping Plover on the beach between Meinert Park and Flower Creek Dunes Preserve in northern Muskegon county.  The bird is banded and I was able to get some good photos of both bird and bands.  I passed this along to Alice Van Zoeren (Piping Plover Recovery Program) and USFWS.  The individual has been identified.  I won't be able to get back up there until tomorrow to check on the bird.  Wondering if you could pass the word to any MCNC folks who might be headed up that way today.  It would be great to keep tabs on this bird in the event it decides to nest in the area (although not great habitat for nesting in the immediate vicinity). 

Jill Henemyer


Thanks, Jill.  Maybe they didn't give you the I.D. information and there's not much chance, but I'll check with Carol Cooper to see if it might be "Bahama Mama" or its mate or kids which Carol monitored last year at Muskegon State Park.  If anyone gets up there to look for this bird, please let us know whether you see it or not.  Thanks!  - Ric

Friday, April 22, 2016

Avocets and Bittern

Two more pictures of the American Avocets that are at the Wastewater.

I birded Lane's Landing from 7:10 pm till 8:10 pm and had an American Bittern calling all the time I was there.

After Lane's I went back to the Wastewater to check on the avocets and they were still there at 8:40 pm. I counted 36.

- Charlie DeWitt

Thanks, Charlie.  I hope that bittern sticks around for our Big Day Count.  We missed you on the Upper Mac Field Trip.  We didn't find anything as exotic as an avocet, but did record 45 bird species on a beautiful spring walk.  - Ric

American Avocets at the Wastewater Today

Friday Morning Email:

Hi Ric,

Not sure if this has already been reported, but I just counted 37 American Avocets out at the Wastewater site.  Same location as last year.  (Brad's photo below.)

Brad Heath

Friday Afternoon Email:

Right now there are 32 American Avocets at the Wastewater in the small drawn down cell.

- Charlie DeWitt  / Sent from my iPhone

Injured Snowy Owl Re-habbing

On Sunday Bob Kingsbury called to report an injured Snowy Owl at the Wastewater.  Sue Stamy from the Braveheart Raptor Rehabilitation Center in Twin Lake got the bird, washed a bunch of gunk from it, and reported on Wednesday that the owl was recovering nicely at the center.  Carol Cooper confirmed at the MCNC meeting last night that the recovery is going well.

Yesterday Bob sent an email with the photos above.  He thought I had contacted Sue, but someone else did.  We will give Sue contact information for Bob in case she wants to take him up on the Whitefish Point offer.  - Ric

Hi Ric

I am attaching some of my pictures of the injured Snowy Owl.  You can see that the wings and tail look dirty and the edges of the feathers are not fringed nicely, but rather appear clumped together like frayed rope.  It also looks like the wings are not raising up together.  One is always lower than the other.  

I am very grateful for your help and for the help of the rehabbers.  I would volunteer to drive it up to Whitefish Point for its release if that would help.  : )


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Monday Hawks, Kinglets and Gnatcatcher

Trying unsuccessfully to locate the Red-shouldered Hawks calling east of our house yesterday, I found two Ruby-crowned Kinglets and a Broad-winged Hawk.  Meanwhile Casey Irwin had a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in his yard.

- Ric

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Groggy Woodpecker

As I stepped out the door this morning, a Downy Woodpecker burst from our porch bench to the tulip tree.  There he hung upside-down without moving a muscle for over ten minutes before "waking up".  He must have hit our front windows.  I've read that birds don't fare well after such collisions.  Hopefully this one will be okay.

- Ric

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Saturday at the Wastewater

 Savannah Sparrow
Photo by Charlie DeWitt

 Greater Yellowlegs
Photo by Carol DeWitt

Great Blue Heron
Photo by Carol DeWitt

Eared Grebe
Photo by Carol DeWitt

Carol and I took a quick spin around the Wastewater today and I added four new birds to my two-county list (Muskegon / Ottawa) that brings me up to 109.

- Charlie DeWitt

Beautiful Morning at the State Park

I birded Muskegon State Park this morning from Snug Harbor out to Lost Lake, my first beautifully comfortable bird walk of the year.  Most of the 34 bird species were the usual suspects.  For awhile I had the company of Larry and Kay Kotzian and their friends, human and canine.

Winter Wrens are my nemesis, but this morning two were singing along the Lost Lake Trail and one popped up for a photograph.  Hermit Thrushes were moving through the park in small groups; Kay and I also saw a non-hermie thrush (Gray-cheeked or Swainson's).  Northern Flickers were plentiful and noisy as was a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers.

This Pied-billed Grebe dove when I arrived at Lost Lake, then stayed on the far side until I left.  Other species around there included Red-shouldered Hawk, Chipping Sparrow, Sandhill Crane and Belted Kingfisher.

- Ric

Friday, April 15, 2016

Nature Preserve Rail: First Michigan Report

April 14 Email:

While doing some projects at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve I heard this bird, and finally found it.  Sorry it's only a cell phone picture.  Virginia Rail !

 - Carol Cooper

Any picture of a rail in Muskegon on April 14 is a good one!  As of this morning there are no eBird reports of a Virginia Rail in Michigan yet this year.  I'm glad you finally found it!  - Ric 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Dozens of Ducks / Crows Strafing Raven

Participants at Nik Kalejs' DNR field trip found 33 bird species on the Wastewater properties this morning including a dozen ducks: Gadwall, American Wigeon, Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead and Ruddy).

David and Missy Foran and I watched two American Crows harrassing a Common Raven over the Lost Lake Trail at Snug Harbor this afternoon.

- Ric

Friday, April 8, 2016

Black-billed Magpie Near Montague Thursday!

April 7 to Mich-Listers:


Early this afternoon I received an email from Dick Smith about a Black-billed Magpie that was seen and photographed on his Oceana County/Muskegon County line farm for at least an hour (ca. 11:15am - 12:15 pm). The bird was in a fenced pasture north of the house, and perched on a post before foraging on the muddy pasture. It finally flew off to the south. Mark Wloch, his wife Kelly, and I drove down about an hour later from Ludington and met with Dick and Cheryl (the photographer), who showed us the location where the bird was seen. Afterwards, the three of us drove/birded to the west, the south, and east of the Smith farm a couple miles each direction. We did not explore northward as the winds were strong out of the north. After 1.5 hours of exploring through open farmlands and sparsely treed habitats, we returned home without any luck. 

Directions: The Smith farm house is red and occurs on the north side of Skeels Road, while a green-roofed barn is on the south (opposite) side of the road. Skeels Road dead ends 1/2 mile to the west, and all of the houses/buildings are owned by the Smith's. Though I forgot to get the address, it is easy to find. From the north (as we came), take the Fruitvale exit on southbound US 31 and proceed west four miles on Fruitvale Road to Chase Road. Turn right onto Chase Road and proceed north two miles until it bears to the left and becomes the countyline road (Skeels Road). The Smith's red farm house is a short distance to the west on the right.

I have attached two cropped photos of the BBMA.

Good Luck !

Dave Dister

photos by Cheryl Smith

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and Purple Finch

Today we I saw a pair of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers behind our house in the tree they occupy a few days each spring, plus a female Purple Finch at our back feeder.

- Ric & Carol