Thursday, October 8, 2015

Muskegon County Wastewater 2015-10-08

 Savannah Sparrow
 Spotted Sandpiper
Yesterday ebird didn't like my Spotted Sandpiper report, "late date" they said.  Well I went back to the wastewater today and guess what?  Another "late date" Spotted Sandpiper
 I really don't mind ebird questioning me, after all we want good science.  It is nice to have a photo of a late date bird.

 Northern Harrier

 This Northern Harrier was hunting in the cell that I was watching for some White-crowned Sparrows.  I had the truck off and was parked hoping the sparrows would show themselves.  Now I can see why they were hiding.  In the last picture she seems to be giving me the "stink eye".  It's not my fault that she missed lunch.
Snow Geese
Still in the same field (27) as yesterday. 
Charlie DeWitt

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Good Birds at the Wastewater

 American Pipit

At the Wastewater this morning I counted 50 American Pipits while driving around the large storage lagoons.

 White-rumped Sandpipers

These are 10 of the 14 White-rumped  Sandpipers I saw in the drawn down aeriation cell.  Yesterday Brian Johnson had a count of 71 White-rumped Sandpipers at the Wastewater.
Also in Field 24 by the rocket field there were 8 Snow Geese.

- Charlie DeWitt

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Merlin Again at Muskegon State Park

Although the winds were easterly today, they may have been too strong or it may have been too cloudy.  In an hour on "Jeff's Dune" at Muskegon State Park this morning I only counted five migrating raptors (3 Northern Harriers and 2 Sharp-shinned Hawks).  

The Merlin was again in a tree alongside the road and allowed me to take his portrait.

The only other birds of interest were three adult Bald Eagles flying up by Snug Harbor.

- Ric

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hawks and Other Birds at Jeff's Dune Today

It was cool, windy and beautiful on "Jeff's Dune" (Muskegon State Park) this morning.  Most of the migrating hawks flew high despite strong gusty east winds, and I'm sure many flew over without my seeing them.  This Red-tailed Hawk gave me the once-over before continuing south.

Around 10:00 some small kettles of hawks formed north of the ridge line (up toward the "Sugar Bowl" tobogganing hill).  Most were probably Broad-winged's, but some were definitely Sharp-shinned's, and without Jeff's eyes and expertise I couldn't tell which from that distance.  Most of them climbed thermals into the blue and disappeared before reaching an imaginary east-west line between the dune and the moon over the lake.

Besides those there were several identifiable migrating birds (15 Sharp-shinned Hawks ...

... 8 Broad-winged Hawks, 4 Red-tailed Hawks, 4 Northern Harriers (2 brown, 2 gray adult males), 3 Turkey Vultures, 2 Bald Eagles (immatures) and about 200 migrating Blue Jays.  Non-migrants included an adult Bald Eagle (probably one of the Snug Harbor pair), 2 American Kestrels and this Red-tailed Hawk.

Non raptors included 2 Pileated Woodpeckers, several Northern Flickers, a few Eastern Bluebirds and 1 Canada Goose.

I couldn't identify a sparrow as it foraged in the dune grass nearby, but after it flew away and perched on a distant branch, I took a couple pictures.  Enlarging this image to the max, I think it's a Vesper Sparrow but would appreciate opinions of others.

- Ric

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Hawk and Blue Jay Watching Saturday

Several raptors migrated past Muskegon State Park between 9:00 and 11:00 this morning: 4 Northern Harriers, 44 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 1 Cooper's, 2 Broad-winged's, 1 Red-tailed and 3 American Kestrels.  

Blurry but well-fed Northern Harrier

One of the migrating kestrels was holding lunch in its talons and occasionally taking bites as it flew.  Two other kestrels, another redtail and this Merlin did not appear to be migrating.

Long ago at the Hoffmaster Dune Climb Stairway I watched several Sharp-shinned Hawks chasing Blue Jays over the treetops.  The jays would fly over the blow-out below the dune, the sharpies would give chase, and the jays would dive into the trees.  With the sharpies still flying around the area, the jays would again fly over that blow-out!  It sounds crazy, but it looked like an intentional behavior by the jays as if they wanted to be chased.

Today I watched a group of about ten Blue Jays fly out from the treetops north of "Jeff's Dune" despite the fact that this male American Kestrel was circling overhead.

The kestrel dove at them, and the jays dove back to the trees. The kestrel soared up, the jays flew out again, the kestrel dropped toward them, and the jays rushed back to the trees. The jays flew out again, the kestrel chased again, this time getting within a few feet of the last retreating jay before it reached the trees.  Why would Blue Jays do this?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Hawks Migrating at "Jeff's Dune" Today

Today Jeff Johnson and I spent 4+ hours (9:00-1:15) hawkwatching from "Jeff's Dune" north of the Muskegon Channel at Muskegon State Park.  We observed 151 raptors and recorded 147 migrating including 138 Sharp-shinned Hawks.


 Red-tailed Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk

Other raptors included 2 Cooper's Hawks, 2 Northern Harriers, 2 Broad-winged Hawks, 1 Osprey, 1 Merlin (perched in a tree near the bath house on the lakeshore), 1 American Kestrel (flying north of us, did not appear to be migrating), and 3 Red-tailed Hawks (only 1 of which flew past us and continued south).  Scores of Blue Jays migrated by and many others flew around the area.  There were also plenty of Northern Flickers and American Crows today.

- Ric

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Whip-poor-will and Merlin on Field Trip

The rain stopped before our monthly field trip began.  Seven of us walked the protected trails of the Kitchell-Lindquist Dunes Preserve and the windy north side of the Grand Haven Channel this morning recording 30 species of birds.

In the woods of the preserve we saw Swainson's Thrush, Blue-headed Vireo, a female Scarlet Tanager and some warblers including Yellow-rumped.  Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Harrier and Red-tailed Hawk migrated overhead.

The highlight was a sleeping Eastern Whip-Poor-Will brought to our attention by a mobbing group of chickadees and nuthatches that must have mistaken it for a raptor.

A Merlin greeted us at the north pier parking lot and seven Sanderling fought the strong winds while foraging along the Lake Michigan shoreline north of the pier.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Monarch and Bird House Bee Hive

Just a couple of interesting pictures. Monarch Butterfly preparing for migration and a bird house/ bee hive.

- Don Neumann

Black-bellied Plover

I saw this Black-bellied Plover in the northeast corner of the west lagoon at the Wastewater today, 9/18/2015.

- Mike Boston

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Quiet North and South of Grand Haven Today

Runners and bicyclists on Harbor Island out-numbered the 23 birds (10 species) in thirty minutes this morning, so I drove down to Hofma Preserve where it was also quiet (30 birds, 16 species).  An Osprey flew over the marsh, a Wren (I presume juvenile Sedge) begged for food on the boardwalk, and this Viceroy butterfly wanted its picture taken.  ;-)  - Ric

Friday, September 11, 2015

Odd Goose at the Wastewater Today

September 11 Email:

I spent some time at the Wastewater this morning and found this odd goose.  The American Goldfinch wanted to have its picture taken. ;-)  - Charlie DeWitt

Thanks for the pictures, Charlie.  Assuming that your goose is a Canada x ??? hybrid, does anyone have an idea what the "???" is?  That's a beautiful goldfinch portrait!  - Ric

Birds and People at the Nature Preserve

We observed 17 species of birds at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve this morning including Belted Kingfisher, Warbling Vireo, American Redstart, Nashville Warbler, Ovenbird and Swainson's Thrush.  From 10:00-11:30 Brian Johnson presented his bird-banding operation to some residents from The Village at Park Terrace .

Carol Cooper & Stacey Wilde watch Brian display a catbird.

Brian holds a male redstart.
Swainson's Thrush
Grasshopper on Brian's car.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

American White Pelican at Fremont

Terra Berry sends cell phone photo from this weekend by Fremont Schools of an American White Pelican.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Nighthawks Wednesday Evening

September 2 Email:

Common Nighthawk from my back yard tonight.  There were 20+. - Dan Lockard

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wastewater and Lane's Landing This Morning

This morning along the north wall of the West Lagoon this juvenile Bald Eagle

sat beside my car as we watched an adult (maybe its mom?) nail a gull and carry it off.

As reported earlier by Charlie, there is some good shorebird habitat in the third churning lagoon which has been drained down.  Several dozen birds were foraging in the muck, mostly Lesser Yellowlegs, but also a few Semipalmated Plovers, a pair of American Golden-plovers

a Stilt Sandpiper (here with a yellowlegs),

and some Killdeer.  A Pied-billed Grebe was in the West Lagoon, a Horned Grebe in the East Lagoon,

and several Bonaparte's Gulls in various stages of molt in the southeast corner of the East Lagoon.

There were very few birds later at the Lane's Landing marsh; this Leopard Frog hopped beside the trail there.

- Ric