Sunday, September 25, 2016

Nine American Kestrels at the Wastewater

 American Kestrel

 Same bird as above.  I found this one on the north side.

 I normally would not include pictures of this poor quality
but it was fun to watch the kestrel eat a bug while on the wing.
This was over the rapid infiltration cells.

 In this picture you can see a leg from the bug dropping to
the ground.

Here again the picture is not real good.  If you look closely,
you can see what appears to be a tether hanging from its leg.
This kestrel was at Swanson and White Roads.

- Charlie DeWitt

Saturday Morning on Jeff's Dune

Yesterday morning I counted migrating birds on Jeff's Dune (Muskegon State Park north of the Channel) from 9:00-11:00, then stayed up there until almost noon chatting with a geo-caching guy and his dog Bennett.  Even without binoculars, we saw more migrating hawks that hour than the previous two (perhaps because the east wind picked up and brought the birds lower?).

I counted 180 migrating Blue Jays the first hour (only a few after that) with the largest flock of 40+ birds at 9:40.  Three Broad-winged Hawks popped out of the trees at 9:45.  The Merlin and a Cooper's Hawk perched and hunted the area again this morning.  Five Red-tailed Hawks (a family?) soared together up by Snug Harbor throughout the morning (as did an adult Bald Eagle).

Migrating raptors during the first two hours included 7 brown-plumaged Northern Harriers ...

48 Sharp-shinned Hawks ...

10 Broad-winged Hawks ...

1 immature Red-tailed Hawk ...

17 American Kestrels, 2 non-adult Bald Eagles, and four unidentifiables.

Northern Flickers again called and flew around the area but not so many as last week.  There were a few V's of Canada Geese around, a male Wood Duck flew by, and an immature Red-headed Woodpecker rested for a few minutes on a snag west of the dune.

- Ric

Monday, September 19, 2016

Young Grosbeak Returns

Presumably the same young male Rose-breasted Grosbeak that landed on our feeder yesterday but didn't stick around long enough for pictures returned today and stayed long enough for a blurry shot through our kitchen window.

- Ric

Good "Black" Birds and Others on Saturday

September 18 Email from Lizzy Kibbey:

Good afternoon Ric!

Came to report to you of all the great things we found at the Muskegon Wastewater yesterday.  I will include some pics too!

First off, if you haven't already, you should plan on taking a trip to Coopersville and snag yourself that Black-necked Stilt at the Coopersville Wastewater Treatment Plant.  It's a female and it's supposed to be in the northwestern cell but has been known to be in the southern cells too. 
Mr. Fyfe, my brother and I saw her yesterday, but then got rained on. 

My Muskegon County Wastewater species list with highlights in bold:

Canada Goose - 300​
Wood Duck - 6
American Wigeon - 7
American Black Duck - 10
Mallard - 175
Blue-winged Teal - 2
Northern Shoveler - 250
Green-winged Teal - 4
Redhead - 15
Ring-necked Duck - 1
Bufflehead - 10 (all female group in E. Lagoon; among many hundred Ruddy Ducks and Shovelers)
Hooded Merganser - 9
Common Merganser - 3
Ruddy Duck - 1,200
Wild Turkey - 30
Eared Grebe - 2 (First of the year for me!)
Great Blue Heron - 3
Great Egret - 1 
Turkey Vulture - 50
Northern Harrier - 10 (Multiples everywhere. Most were juvs. Tried getting good photos but failed due to their excessive need to dip below the cornstalks.)
Bald Eagle - 2 (Two juvs.)
Red-tailed Hawk - 4
American Coot - 4
Sandhill Crane - 3
Black-bellied Plover - 2 (Center Dike. Flew off the edge and we got out and snuck up really close till we were completely parallel to where they were standing on the rocky coast below.  Got good pics, and they didn't even seem bothered by our presence after that.)

Killdeer - 10
Stilt Sandpiper - 1
Sanderling - 9
Baird's Sandpiper - 5 (All together in same cell)
Least Sandpiper - 10
Pectoral Sandpiper - 2
Semipalmated Sandpiper - 2
Solitary Sandpiper - 5
Greater Yellowlegs - 1
Lesser Yellowlegs - 4
Bonaparte's Gull - 1
Ring-billed Gull - 1,200
Herring Gull - 70
Rock Dove - 24
Mourning Dove - 9
Belted Kingfisher - 4
American Kestrel - 13
Eastern Phoebe - 1
Blue Jay - 8
American Crow - 42
European Starling - 700
American Pipit - 9
Palm Warbler - 2
Chipping Sparrow - 1
Savannah Sparrow - 10
Song Sparrow - 2
Eastern Meadowlark - 1 (Surprised us by flying out of some tall grass)
Brown-headed Cowbird - 1
American Goldfinch - 2
Mute Swan - 2
Horned Lark - 18

Total: 54 Species

- Lizzy Kibbey (Duck Wizard)

Friday, September 16, 2016

Thursday Morning on Jeff's Dune

Yesterday I spent a few hours hawkwatching up on Jeff's Dune (Muskegon State Park north of the Muskegon Channel).  As usual, lots of bird activity, kind of like watching a show through binoculars and spotting scope, with some of the action up close and personal too.

"Here's looking at you!"

I've always liked the "false face" on the side of the head of an American Kestrel.  "No sense attacking me because I 'see you' already".  This one's really looking west and may have been a local bird.  Three others flew by heading south.

Other migrants included a brown Northern Harrier, three Sharp-shinned Hawks, four Broad-winged Hawks, a (presumably) Ruby-throated Hummingbird, a few Monarch butterflies, and perhaps some of the many Northern Flickers or Blue Jays (but no groups of jays heading south).

Sharp-shinned Hawk, already ate breakfast.

Broad-winged Hawk

Flickers plentiful all morning, two here in the same tree.

Raptors that did not appear to be migrating included a Cooper's Hawk (harrassed by Blue Jays), another accipiter that chased some jays and was screamed at by a female Pileated Woodpecker), a Red-tailed Hawk, an immature Bald Eagle and a Merlin which flew around during the morning and perched on the same distant snag three different times.


Memorable trivia included kestrels carrying prey (one a small body still trailing dune grass, one perhaps a grasshopper that the falcon stopped to eat before continuing south over the channel), jays chasing raptors around the trees and sometimes being chased in return, a jay screaming like a Red-shouldered Hawk as it flew here and there, a pair of very vocal Pileated Woodpeckers, and the flickers flying back and forth all morning.  Nineteen bird species today.

But who's counting?  For a normal person, ho-hum.  For a bird-brain, a very nice show.

- Ric

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Terns at Grand Haven North Pier

Common Tern (foreground) and Forster's Tern

There was a mixed flock of terns on the Grand Haven north pier today, about 12 in all.

- Charlie DeWitt

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Does Anyone Know This Moth?

Ken Sapkowski writes: "Check out this moth photo I took this weekend.  Anyone know the name of it?"

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Buff-Breasted Sandpiper Reply and Photo

August 30 Email:  

Hi Ric,

I observed and photographed the Buff-breasted Sandpiper for some time on Sunday morning, and raising its scapular feathers from time to time is something that it did.  The bird didn't seem to have a problem to me.  I'm attaching a photo of the sandpiper with its feathers down, but I also have photos of it with the feathers raised, just as Bob's photos show.

Jerry Vis

Jerry, thanks for the scapular feathers reply and for the beautiful portrait!  - Ric

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Buff-breasted SP, Turnstone and Sanderling

Sorry about the late posting but on Sunday evening Bob Kingsbury sent these photos of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper that he photographed at the Wastewater.  Bob was wondering if the protruding scapular feathers meant that the bird had some kind of a problem; comments welcome!

On Monday Carol Cooper emailed: "While on the north pier at Grand Haven, watching the catwalk come down, these two (Ruddy Turnstone and Sanderling) were quite friendly, running around right near me."

- Ric

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Our First Male Hummingbird at the Feeder

This summer Carol and I had seen only female hummingbirds at our feeder until this afternoon when a male, perhaps a migrant, finally showed up.  The lighting in the picture makes him look like a red-collared black-and-white speckle-throat, but in real life he was a standard-issue (beautiful) Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

- Ric

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Saturday's Field Trip Report

Yesterday before the rain people on our August field trip found 40+ species of birds on the Wastewater properties.  See the report posted on our homepage.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


These are two of the five Sanderlings that were on the Grand Haven north pier tonight.  Not much going on.

- Charlie DeWitt

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Food for Thought

August 16 to Mich-chat:

Interesting that a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper shows up at a fish hatchery in
Arkansas two days after one left its known presence in Michigan.  And
provided another 1st State record (eBird).

- Charlie Weaver

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday Update Regarding Saturday Birds

My timing couldn't have been better on a quick trip out to the Wastewater Saturday morning.  I met Phil Chu, saw the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, and met Lizzy Kibbey (a.k.a. Lizard, Lizzy the Fabulous and the Magical Duck Wizard) for the first time.  She was birding with James Fyfe, Steve Minard, and other members of the Grand Rapids Audubon Club.

Regarding the sandpiper, it was last reported to Mich-listers by Heidi Grether of Williamston at 4:00 Saturday afternoon and has not been seen today despite the efforts of 40+ birders.

Regarding Lizzy, I asked her if she would send me a report of what she and her group had seen yesterday.  I also mentioned that I was surprised on a bike ride yesterday afternoon to have found Brian Johnson at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve removing invasive plant species and banding birds.  I attached this photo to Lizzy and asked her to guess the species, sex and age.

This afternoon Lizzy emailed this report:

It was nice meeting you finally! Yes, we will have to bird sometime!

The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper continued to be present throughout the stay of our roughly four and a half hour MWW round-about trip stay. It also continued to draw in a large crowd of people, all of which stopped and asked us if we knew about the birds where abouts. Our GRAC trip was going on that morning, if you didn't know that. It was James and Becky who were leading it, and the main objective was to find shorebirds. And find shorebirds we did! That Sharp-tailed just happend to have SUCH perfect timing! Here is the great list of shorebirds that we managed to pull off today!

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper - 1
Semipalmated Plover - 10
Pectoral Sandpiper - 15
Killdeer - 12 (It's a sad day when there are more LEYE in the MWW than there are KILL!)
Lesser Yellowlegs - 28
Least Sandpiper - 20
Spotted Sandpiper - 9
Black-bellied Plover - 1
Semipalmated Sandpiper - 27
Wilson's Phalarope - 2 (I think me and Mr. Fyfe are the only ones in our group that caught the fact that there were two swimming together; one immature, and one nonbreeding adult. Same cell as STSA.)
Solitary Sandpiper - 4
Sanderling - 1 (One molting from breeding to nonbreeding; still had bright red on chest area.)
Short-billed Dowitcher - 1
Stilt Sandpiper - 1
Baird's Sandpiper - 1

(We also had a good flock (32) of Bobolinks, the Ring-necked Duck continued to make an appearence at the E Lagoon, A Sharp-shinned Hawk around the edge of the E Lagoon, and a Peregrine over there too, two Kestrels, three turkeys, and a few different species of ducks. I took some pictures, so once I get them uploaded, I'll send them to you to attach into your report!)

We also searched for Golden-Plovers, and Uplands, but lucked out on both of those. I guess we expected too much; we expected the STSA to be there, and that we'd find a plethora of all the stuff we wouldn't see. Just great....

After some of our group left, five of us remained, and we headed over to the MLNP. Brian was doing his work, setting up nets. Yellow Warblers were still plentiful, and so were Warbling Vireos. Becky and me had two flyover Common Nighthawks in cloudly sunshine, but everyone else was busy talking to Brian. As Becky was leaving to head home, and leaving us to wander more to find the Northern Waterthrush we'd come for, a female American Redstart almost landed on her shoulder! Apparently they are used to frequent contact with Brian, and aren't much afraid. We checked out on the water, and managed to see an Osprey flying near the power stack. We also heard a Virginia Rail, and saw two flyover Green Herons.

Honestly, that bird looks like a Yellow Warbler. I'd say a female Yellow Warbler. Saw how plentiful they were in the area of that picture, as we were over there yesterday ourselves. Bill is long, and thin, taking away the chance of it being a Goldfinch. Wings show some dark greenish to black. From the angle, I can't really tell if it has wingbars or not, and can't look for the notch in the tail. That and the leg color is pinkish, so I'll stick with female Yellow Warbler! That's a very good picture by the way!

- Lizzy


Thanks, Lizzy!  It's easy to take a good picture when someone is holding the bird six inches from the camera!

Photo Quiz Answer:  Lizzy's excellent guess is what Brian was thinking too at first.  However, the slight traces of red streaks in the breast convinced him that this is a first-year male Yellow Warbler.  - Ric

Lizzy's photo of the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (bird on the right):

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Saturday Morning

The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was re-found at 7:40 this morning.  By 8:00 there were also two dozen bird-watchers at the Wastewater including Phil Chu from Minnesota!

- Ric