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

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Strange Behavior

My wife Carol saw this Northern Harrier land in a corn field. It looked like it was eating something.  I got the scope out and turned it up to 60X and could see the Harrier was eating an egg.  Has anyone else seen this behavior?

Midland Clubtail dragonfly (I think)
eating an American Copper butterfly.

- Charlie DeWitt

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Muskegon Wastewater Sunday

 Grasshopper Sparrow



I made a quick trip to the Muskegon County Wastewater looking for Bobolink (#193) and Dickcissel (#194) for my two-county list.

They were in the RI cells, Bobolink in C10 and Dickcissel in D9.

- Charlie DeWitt

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sedge Wrens No / Connecticut Warblers Yes

I missed my "automatic annual Sedge Wrens" at Hofma Preserve south of Grand Haven yesterday.  The only wrens I heard or saw were Marsh.  I did meet a Celtic Wedding party leaving as I was arriving.  I thought one guy was carrying a tripod and scope over his shoulder, but it turned out to be just a huge broadsword.  Ho-hum.

Later in the day Brian Johnson, answering a bird question I'd asked, added:

" ... but I've otherwise found plenty of time for Muskegon birding.  I've done fairly well this year, but no rarities. Connecticut Warblers at Lake Harbor and Black Lake were notable.  Shorebird numbers have been outstanding, and I'm really looking forward to the final numbers."

These are the times when I'm reminded what league I'm in (T-ball, not Big League).  If I ever see even one Connecticut Warbler anywhere anytime (not to mention two in the same spring in Muskegon), I will consider them at least rarities, I will get very excited, and I will use adjectives more enthusiastic than "notable".  :-)

- Ric

Red- shouldered Hawk Family

A family of Red-shouldered Hawks enjoying the holiday weekend.

Don Neumann

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Franklin's Gulls at the Wastewater

To Mich-listers, 12:57 pm, May 25, 2016:

I found two Franklin's Gulls at Muskegon Wastewater System.  Right now they are loafing in the middle aeration cell along with Ring-billed Gulls.  They have broad white eye-arcs, large white primary tips and their back and wings are darker gray than the RBGs.  They are also smaller than the RBGs.  Will include photos with my eBird post.  - Laurence Burke

Monday, May 23, 2016

Weekend Birding Updates

Too much to report and too little time.  Apologies to those who sent information that's not posted here.

Our club's annual Big Day Count on Saturday netted 117 species.  Click for details.

That same day Lizzy Kibbey of Grand Rapids was roaming our county finding many of the same birds we did at the same places, but also reporting extras such as these:

Patterson Park: Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Louisiana Waterthrush and Cerulean Warbler.

The Wastewater: Greater Scaup, Pectoral Sandpiper, three Wilson's Phalaropes and Clay-colored Sparrow.

Snug Harbor: Chestnut-sided Warbler, White-breasted NuthatchPine Warbler (our Big Day group may have heard this bird as well but couldn't discount Chipping Sparrow) and Olive-sided Flycatcher.

Ben Jansen emailed that he had a male American Redstart land on his boat out on Lake Michigan on Friday.  It stuck around for an hour catching and eating flies before continuing its journey.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Whimbrel Sunday Afternoon at WW

Mike Boston photographed a Whimbrel this afternoon in the drawn-down cell at the Wastewater.  I think that is the churning lagoon second from the west.  

- Ric

Sunday Morning

Got these at my ice cream shop this morning: Brown Thrasher, Green Heron and Eastern Kingbird.

- Don Neumann

Friday, May 20, 2016

Looks Like a Peregrine at the Wastewater

Bruce Delamarter sends this picture of a raptor he photographed near the power lines along the north side of the east lagoon at the Wastewater on Thursday ...

... which looks like an adult Peregrine Falcon.

- Ric

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Prothonotary, Willet and Phalarope Today

Prothonotary Warbler at Lane's Landing

Willet in Cell B1 at Muskegon County Wastewater
Feller DeWitt called me and told me about it.

Wilson's Phalarope and Willet at
Muskegon County Wastewater Cell B1

Wilson's Phalarope in Cell B1 at
Muskegon County Wastewater

- Charlie DeWitt

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

103 Species at State Game Area Saturday

May 16 Email to North American Migration Counters:

I just finished all my personal data entry for Saturday.  Here are my results from the Muskegon State Game Area.  I ended the day with 103 species -- exactly my long-term average. My bird count, 549, was by far my lowest ever.  I'll move on to incorporating your lists, and then we'll see what else shows up.

- Brian (Johnson)

Canada Goose4
Wood Duck8
Blue-winged Teal1
Green-winged Teal2
Hooded Merganser4
American Bittern1
Great Blue Heron2
Turkey Vulture3
Sandhill Crane2
American Woodcock8
Mourning Dove6
Eastern Screech-Owl2
Great Horned Owl1
Barred Owl2
Belted Kingfisher1
Red-bellied Woodpecker2
Downy Woodpecker3
Hairy Woodpecker3
Northern Flicker7
PIleated Woodpecker1
Eastern Wood-Pewee1
Least Flycatcher1
Great Crested Flycatcher2
Eastern Kingbird1
Yellow-throated Vireo4
American Crow2
Tree Swallow54
Rough-winged Swallow1
Bank Swallow1
Barn Swallow3
Black-capped Chickadee4
Sedge Wren2
Marsh Wren5
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher9
Ruby-crowned Kinglet1
Eastern Bluebird3
Wood Thrush3
American Robin10
Gray Catbird14
European Starling6
Cedar Waxwing11
Northern Waterthrush1
Blue-winged Warbler3
Nashville Warbler1
Common Yellowthroat12
American Redstart5
Magnolia Warbler1
Yellow Warbler23
Palm Warbler2
Myrtle Warbler6
Chipping Sparrow13
Song Sparrow23
Lincoln's Sparrow1
Swamp Sparrow18
White-crowned Sparrow11
Scarlet Tanager1
Northern Cardinal6
Rose-breasted Grosbeak5
Indigo Bunting1
Red-winged Blackbird36
Common Grackle17
Brown-headed Cowbird4
House Finch1
American Goldfinch12
House Sparrow3