Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Snow Geese and Rough-legged Hawk at Muskegon County Wastewater on Tue. 11 29, 2016

 Rough-legged Hawk
On White Rd by the rocket field
 Rough-legged Hawk

 Snow Geese
In field 19 on the NW corner of White and Swanson I counted 20 Snow Geese 15 white phase and 5 blue phase.
 Canada Geese
I spent 45 minutes watching geese come into field 19.  The geese were packed in too tight to try to count, my guess is well over a 1,000 were in the field.
After the wastewater I took a trip to downtown Muskegon to look for the Snowy Owl, no luck.  Then I went to the Muskegon channel to look for waterfowl.  There were a few ducks flying, if you look close you and see a merganser sp, flying over the north break wall

Charlie DeWitt

Monday, November 28, 2016

Snowy Owl in Downtown Muskegon

Snowy Owl
near Fourth and Western
by the Lakeshore Museum Center
cell phone photo by
Wendy VanWoerkom

Mystery Thanksgiving Duck

Mike Boston sent a picture and asked about this weird-looking duck he photographed at the Wastewater on Thanksgiving Day:

I had no idea what it was and sent the photo to Charlie DeWitt who replied: 

This is a picture I took on 11-15-2013 at the Wastewater.  It looks a lot like the duck Mike photographed. White-cheeked Pintail face and Wigeon butt.

If anyone else has thoughts about these ducks, we'd like to hear them.  Thanks!

- Ric

Mystery Thanksgiving Duck

Mike Boston sent a picture and asked about this weird-looking duck he photographed at the Wastewater on Thanksgiving Day:

I had no idea what it was and sent the photo to Charlie DeWitt who replied: 

This is a picture I took on 11-15-2013 at the Wastewater.  It looks a lot like the duck Mike photographed. White-cheeked Pintail face and Wigeon butt.

If anyone else has thoughts about this duck, we'd like to hear them.  Thanks!

- Ric

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tundra Swans and Long-tailed Ducks

Hi Ric,

We had about 145 Tundra Swans at the Wastewater Sunday, counting by fives. I had never seen so many together in one group.  It was neat listening to them. They were in the large eastern lagoon.  My far away pictures aren't worth posting.

I did get a pretty good shot of a male Long-tailed Duck off of the south pier at Pere Marquette Park.  The female of the pair that was out there was a little more shy.

No luck on our Purple Sandpiper quest. We'll keep trying.

- Bob Kingsbury

Monday, November 21, 2016

Short-eared Owl and Northern Shrike

Short-eared Owl
spotted on the Wastewater center dike
photo by Carol DeWitt

Northern Shrike
 by the model airplane field, first seen at Seba and Laketon
Photo by Charlie DeWitt

Northern Shrike
Photo by Charlie DeWitt

Eastern Screech-Owl on Sunday

November 20 Email:

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Another Weekend Report from Lizzy

Good morning Ric! Hope you're doing well since the last time we talked. :)

We did our rounds on Saturday. We've been in Muskegon a lot lately, so we've got a typical schedule.

There was some good stuff, but we also made stops in Ottawa Co. I'll just include highlights for those.

We first headed over to Coopersville, as there is a goose field that contains both Cackling Geese and Greater White-fronted Geese in it. The goose field is in front of the car dealership on O'Malley Dr, but also contains the field on the opposite side, found on Conran Dr. We dipped on finding any Greater White-fronted Goose, but I took pictures of the flock of Canada's and found a goose that we thought resembled a Cackler.

Pere Marquette was the next stop. Since we didn't have a spotting scope handy (it's in California being repaired), we decided to check what was close enough to tell. Nothing super unnatural, but we did find some Red-breasted Mergansers, a few Bonaparte's Gulls, and a Great Black-backed Gull bobbing in the water.

The channel was nearby, and we did stop, but there wasn't much excitement stirring in the murky water.

We hit the Waste Water after a few other minor stops. I'll include highlights and pics.

Muskegon WW highlights:

Blue-winged Teal - 4
Savannah Sparrow - 1
Canvasback - 1

Eared Grebe - 1
Great Black-backed Gull - 2
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 1
Common Raven - 2

Wood Duck - 1
Pied-billed Grebe - 1

Ducks are still in fairly strong numbers. Ruddies are seeming to dissipate in numbers, while Buffleheads are starting to show signs of steady increase, plus the males have made an appearance! 

Still waiting for a glimpse of a Goldeneye, since I haven't seen one this fall yet. Snow Buntings are still present on the center dike, with fairly large numbers, but Pipits seemed to have disappeared, as we only had two, and these were ones that we heard. We missed the chance of an Eastern Bluebird, American Kestrel, Dunlin, or Peregrine Falcon.

We then made a stop again by the goose field and got lucky this time on the Greater-white Fronted.

We also were able to relocate our Cackler from the morning, with the possibility of a few other candidates.

​Lastly, we had a Lesser Black-backed Gull at the Coopersville Wastewater Treatment Plant. 

That's all for now. Thanks!

Lizzy Kibbey (Duck Wizard)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Windy Walk North of the Channel Today

Strong westerly winds didn't help the birding at Muskegon State Park this morning.  Otherwise it was a beautiful, chilly, autumn walk from the barrier at the parking lot, up and around Jeff's Dune, through the campgrounds, and back.

Nothing unusual in the 12 species which included Golden-crowned Kinglets, a Belted Kingfisher, and this migrating Bald Eagle.

- Ric

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

"Carol's Plover" Returns to The Bahamas

November 9 Email:

I just got word that Bahama Mama has been sighted at Long Beach on Abaco (The Bahamas) on November 5, 2016.  She returned to the same beach as last year.  - Carol Cooper

Piping Plover with chick at Muskegon State Park, June 21, 2015.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Harlequin Duck at the Breakwater Sunday

November 6 Email:

Hi Ric,

I saw this female Harlequin Duck at Pere Marquette Park Sunday morning.  I had to ignore the warning sign to see it though.

Thanks, Mike.  Anyone looking for her, please heed Mike's warning.  - Ric

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Usual Suspects on Saturday Morning

Fifteen everyday species at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve yesterday including American Tree Sparrow at the entrance gate and American Goldfinch along the River Walk.


- Ric

Friday, October 28, 2016

Two Muskegon Birding Reports from Lizzy

October 27 Email:

Report for 10/09/16 is going to be brief, but just wanted to say that we had four Snow Geese in a massive raft of congregating Canada Geese. 

Report for 10/27/16 more information-packed, so hold onto your hat. 

Spent a good majority of the time focused on scanning the center dike and the lagoons on either side of it.  The center dike had plenty of activity that day.

Canada Goose numbers have definitely jumped up, as congregation continues to pick up speed.  We estimated roughly 2,000 geese. They were all gathered on both sides of the center dike. 

We had five Trumpeter Swans in the south end, at very close quarters. Good enough to get awesome pics. 

Duck numbers were up as well.  We were readily impressed by the massive amount of Ring-necked Ducks, Scaup, and assorted other species. 

We ended up tallying 15 duck species, 12 of which we found in those lagoons. The only ones we didn't find in the lagoons were Green-winged and Blue-winged Teal, and the pair of Wood Ducks. 

Wood Duck - 2
Gadwall - 32
American Black Duck - 50
Mallard - 350
Blue-winged Teal - 3
Northern Shoveler - 500
Northern Pintail - 1
Green-winged Teal - 19
Canvasback - 10
Redhead - 101
Ring-necked Duck - 250
Greater Scaup - 75
Lesser Scaup - 75 
Bufflehead - 2
Hooded Merganser - 2
Ruddy Duck - 4,000

Amazingly, if you calculate that, we saw roughly 5,448 individual ducks in both lagoons. That is a very rough estimate due to the fact that I didn't put in the teals or the Wood Ducks, and the fact that there were other Mallards scattered throughout smaller cells too. Same with the Ruddy Ducks surprisingly. Duck numbers were very impressive. Point proven. :D

On the shorebird side of things, late migrants started showing up. Killdeer numbers were starting to rise again. We went from having no Killdeer to having 12, all in one little puddle! We also had some other good shorebirds.

Killdeer - 12
Dunlin - 7
(we definitely were expecting to see some of these guys)
White-rumped Sandpiper - 1
Pectoral Sandpiper - 8
Lesser Yellowlegs - 1

Pretty impressive shorebird numbers, all in one little body of water. And a flock of European Starlings with a Bonaparte's Gull still hanging around.

On the gull side of things, as mentioned, we had one stray Bonaparte's Gull with the flock of shorebirds and starlings. Also, near the dump we had an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull (which I'm still wondering if it is a hybrid LBBG x HEGU or not, due to the weird head streaking, not typically shown in adult LBBGs) ...

... and in one of the dried out concrete cells, I had a gull that I put down as a Thayer's/Iceland Gull, since I didn't get the best look at it, but I noticed the lack of black on the primaries, not fit for a HEGU or RBGU.

Although Eastern Bluebird's aren't much of a highlight, just thought that I'd add the fact that we had an unusually high count of bluebirds in one day.  20 EABL, one big group in the south end, in which we think was either a family group, or just a group congregating. Other numerous individuals scattered throughout different locations. 

American Pipits were definitely flocking in, both at the center dike, and in a field near the model airplane airport. 85 total. 

And we found one of my target birds: Snow Buntings! Stumbled into a flock of about five, in which they preceeded to hungrily attack a nearby weed, and I got pics of three of them. 

We headed down the center dike more and stumbled into another large flock. Ended up with 19. 

We had a lone American Tree Sparrow with a few Chipping Sparrows on the south end, and a good flock of Dark-eyed Juncos (12).  Oh, and let me not forget about our 14 Vesper Sparrows. Quite impressive numbers! 

I'll attach some pics.  Pick and choose freely. :)
Have a nice day, and talk to you soon!

Lizzy Kibbey (Duck Wizard)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Please Report Any Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

Birds and birders love hemlock trees.  There is a pest threatening these trees in this area.  Please learn how to recognize Hemlock Woolly Adelgid here or here and report any that you find.  Also, please do not hang bird feeders from hemlock trees!


Sunday, October 23, 2016

October Field Trip Tallies 34 Species

Our October 22 Field Trip Report is posted on the homepage.