Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Woodcock, Grouse and Pork Chop by Charlie

I took the picture of the American Woodcock at Lane's Landing after Feller and Ric were finished birding (see Ric's post below).  I went back to get some pictures of Round-lobed Hepatica. The Ruffed Grouse is the one that was by Ric's car. The Bald Eagle is "Pork Chop" at the Wastewater.  If you look closely, you can see the Eagle is standing on the meat it was eating. - Charlie DeWitt

A 49 Species Morning

Charlie & Feller DeWitt and I enjoyed a cool morning of birding at three locations recording 49 species for the day.

Of note at Wastewater were a Cackling Goose accompanying two Canadas in the ditch north of the filtration lagoons and an immature Bald Eagle (1 of 4) enjoying a leathery pork chop (perhaps stolen from a gull that had visited the landfill?) on the rocks along the south side of the east lagoon.

A Ruffed Grouse walked beside our car as we drove from the outer to the inner gates on the Lane's Landing road.

West of  State Game Area headquarters along the Maple River we saw a Belted Kingfisher, and on the flooded fields west of there: 2 Blue-winged Teal, 4 Green-winged Teal and 8 Wilson's Snipe.

As we left SGA, we saw Kathryn Mork's car in the parking lot ... so stay tuned for more!

- Ric Pedler

Monday, March 29, 2010

Peregrines, Tree Swallow and Meadowlark - Don Neumann


"The Eastern Meadowlark and Tree Swallows are from the Wastewater on Friday, March 26. Trying to get a better shot of the swallows. They make fast and little targets!

The Peregrine Falcons are from the Cobb Plant Monday, March 29.  I parked at Richards Park at the north end of Ottawa Street and walked up to the bike path.  Makes a nice viewing spot and no wires to get in the pictures!"  - Don Neumann

Pectoral Sandpipers at Wastewater - Brian

On Sunday afternoon, March 28, I had 10 Pectoral Sandpipers at the Wastewater. This date ties the early record for Muskegon County.

- Brian Johnson

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Longspurs, Swallows & Bonaparte's Gull

Jim Ponshair's bluebird-box-cleaning groups saw some birds of note at Wastewater this morning.  Several Tree Swallows along the north side of the East Lagoon, a Bonaparte's Gull in non-breeding plumage (compliments of Feller DeWitt) and at least four Lapland Longspurs in breeding plumage (compliments of Steve Minard and Charlie DeWitt) in one of the gravel-lined dry cells north of the West Lagoon and west of the weigh-station.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Virginia Rails & Barred Owl - from Brian

March 24:

I had Virginia Rails both at Lanes Landing and at the Wastewater this evening. I also had Barred Owl hooting at the Wastewater. Interestingly, I am not aware of any previous records of this species from there, so this is one more for the species list.

- Brian Johnson

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Owls at Wastewater - Dan Lockard

March 24 Email:

March 24 Email:

Owl pictures from Muskegon Wastewater treatment.

3/20/2010 and 3/17/2010

- Dan Lockard

Wow!  Thanks to "Dan" for Great Horned Owl in daylight, Snowy Owl, and Great Horned's at night with mouse prey!  - Ric

Nature Preserve and Peregrines Report

I birded the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve this morning listing 25 species with none out of the ordinary except perhaps Sandhill Crane.  I heard at least one crane calling from west of the preserve about 8:30 a.m.  It may have been flying (I had a partially obstructed view of the sky) but it sounded as if it were in the marshy area along the riverbank west of the preserve.

I saw no Peregrine Falcons from the preserve, but heading south on the Causeway I saw one flying between the Cobb Plant guard shack and the building.  So I stopped to speak with Randy in the shack and later with Roger on the VerPlank property.  Both guys have seen a couple of peregrines flying around lately; Roger says they've perched on both the north and west nest boxes, so it's hard to say which one they'll use this season.

- Ric

Cranes, Snipes and Cormorants - Brian Johnson

Some Recent Sightings:

165 migrating Sandhill Cranes at Muskegon State Park on March 22 (possibly the highest count from Muskegon County).

2 Wilson's Snipe at Lanes Landing on March 22 (slightly early).

2 Double-crested Cormorant flying over Lake Michigan on March 23 (also slightly early).

- Brian Johnson

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Long-eared Owl (non-chasable): Muskegon State Game Area - Caleb


I kayaked the Big Cedar Creek portion the State Game Area from River Rd to US-31 yesterday, with Curtis Dykstra, Dave Slager, and Rick Brigham. The clear highlight of the outing was finding a single Long-eared Owl at a roost in a remote area of the SGA. It appeared to be alone (surprisingly) and the whitewash pile indicated it had likely been present for some time (ie. not a transient). Interestingly it was also in a pure Eastern Hemlock thicket, not cedar, which was a first for me.

We also had a single unID'ed white-winged Gull (Glaucous, Iceland, or Thayer's) flyby, and only 4 Rusty Blackbirds, as well as 2 Rough-legged Hawks, several Turkey Vultures, and American Woodcock at the River Road putin

Here are some photos from the outing and the complete eBird tally of everything we encountered at the bottom.

Good Birding,
Caleb Putnam

Location: Muskegon SGA (Big Cedar Creek)
Observation date: 3/22/10
Notes: 1 white-winged gull seen (tallied as part of 'gull sp'). Rick Brigham, Curtis Dykstra, and Dave Slager. Paddled by kayak from River Rd bridge to US-31 (Creston Rd) takeout.
Number of species: 42

Canada Goose 15
Mute Swan 1
Wood Duck 25
Mallard 13
Common Goldeneye 2
Hooded Merganser 21
Wild Turkey 4
Turkey Vulture 4
Bald Eagle 5
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 6
Rough-legged Hawk 2
Sandhill Crane 10
Ring-billed Gull 8
gull sp. 7
Rock Pigeon 11
Mourning Dove 3
Long-eared Owl 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 15
Downy Woodpecker 7
Hairy Woodpecker 3
Northern Flicker 3
Pileated Woodpecker 5
Blue Jay 11
American Crow 6
Black-capped Chickadee 16
Tufted Titmouse 15
White-breasted Nuthatch 11
Brown Creeper 6
Winter Wren 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 2
Eastern Bluebird 2
American Robin 27
American Tree Sparrow 38
Song Sparrow 69
Dark-eyed Junco 2
Northern Cardinal 4
Red-winged Blackbird 107
Rusty Blackbird 4
Common Grackle 74
Brown-headed Cowbird 5
House Finch 2
American Goldfinch 14

Sunday, March 21, 2010

More Good Gulls, Maybe One Is Mike's Mystery Gull Below?

March 20 Email:

"Today at the White Lake Channel my dad, brothers and I had about 1200 Tundra Swan, all 3 scoter species, and an Iceland Gull.  We later visited Muskegon Wastewater where we had another Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull and an adult Great Black-backed Gull."

Jonathan Lautenbach

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Iceland Gull

I saw this Second-Cycle Iceland Gull on the east shore of the East lagoon on Saturday. Thanks to Jonathan Lautenbach for the ID.

Peregrines at Cobb Plant Earlier This Week

Bruce Delamarter took these pictures of the adult Peregrine Falcons at the Cobb Plant.  March 19: One of the birds flying above the power plant.  March 15: One of the birds "testing its wings"; Bruce said the bird stayed in this position, perched with wings out, for about thirty seconds.

41 Species at Wastewater (No Owl, No Eagle)

Feller DeWitt led a hardy group of birders through the morning snow at Wastewater recording 41 species including Brown-headed Cowbirds (behind the headquarters), Northern Shovelers (on both lagoons and the clay pond), Eastern Meadowlarks (north and south of Apple), Tundra Swans (15 on the east lagoon), Ruddy Ducks (3 on the east lagoon), Canvasbacks (several in the clay pond), Cedar Waxwings (a few dozen north of the clay pond), Eastern Phoebe (1 in the trees next to the astronomy buildings), Northern Harrier (at least 1 adult male south of White Road north of the west lagoon), Eastern Bluebirds (a pair on the wires along White Road) and American Pipits (8 in the small retention cells north of the West Lagoon).  No sign of the Snowy Owl or Golden Eagle.  - Ric

72 Sandhill Cranes, Northern Goshawk, Blandings Turtle, Fox Sparrows - Brian Johnson

While conducting a waterbird count at Muskegon State Park on Friday March 19 I noticed that groups of Sandhill Cranes were slipping past behind me. So after a couple hours of counting northbound ducks, I headed to the Blockhouse so I could get a better tally of cranes. I ended with 72 for the day, but the highlight was an immature Northern Goshawk calling and circling past the Blockhouse.

Yesterday afternoon, near the MSGA headquarters, I found my first Blanding's Turtle of the year. Also, hordes of Wood Frogs were swimming and calling in the vernal pools, and two somewhat early Fox Sparrows were present.

- Brian Johnson

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Good Fishin'

The locals were having a great time at Snug Harbor Wednesday evening. This guy(girl?) made 3 laps in 40 minutes, bringing in a fresh catch each time around. The guys in boats didn't seem to have as much luck...

Two Peregrines at Cobb Plant

On Wednesday (March 17) Bruce Delamarter observed two Peregrine Falcons performing flight displays near the Cobb Plant and occasionally landing on the north nest box of the smokestack. - Ric

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Snowy Owl

Wednesday birding produced this Snow Owl in the rapid infiltration ponds.

Brian's Owling Adventures March 15-16

 Tuesday, March 16, 2010 Email
 Eastern Screech-Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Long-eared Owl:
"After dark, under a starry sky, calm conditions, and no moon, I conducted a screech owl census at the Wastewater. Being somewhat tired after a long day, my mind was idly wandering as I casually stood at one my stops with my headlight switched off and the audio-lure on repeat. Nothing was responding so I was kinda zoning out. I suddenly burst right out of my reverie as something landed on my head! As soon as I felt the pin pricks of talons and soft moth-like flapping, I realized that an owl had mistook my motionless figure for a convenient perch. While I was collecting my wits, the crazy bird flew to a nearby tree and began calling. I definitely got my second wind at that point. My head still itches.

"I only encountered two more screech owls, but as a nice consolation I did find a Long-eared Owl. Also, on Monday evening, during our second night of netting, Carolyn and I caught a Saw-whet Owl."

- Brian Johnson

Monday, March 15, 2010

Eastern Screech-Owl

Just a shot from the back yard Monday night around 10 p.m.
Mike VanderStelt

Good Ducks at Wastewater; Horned Lark Photo

Ducks for today: On Swanson Road in wet field, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal and Northern Shoveler. In the clay ponds Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Canvasback and Hooded Merganser. On the east pond by the dump, Ruddy Duck.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Western Grebes in Mona Lake on Saturday

"Today, the 13th, I saw the Western Grebe pair in the east end of Mona Lake by Hidden Cove Park." - Kathy Neff

Saturday, March 13, 2010

2 Good Gulls, Shrike, Meadowlark, Etc. at Wastewater - Caleb Putnam

"I birded the wastewater today with my daughter Ava and my wife's 6th grade student (and bird-obsessed soon-to-be expert) Marcellus Hare. Here are our highlights:

Lesser Black-backed Gull- 1 adult
Glaucous Gull- 2 adults
Northern Shrike- 1
Eastern Meadowlark- 6

Waterfowl were concentrated on s. Swanson Rd in the flooded field, with first of year Pintail and Redhead. The shrike was present at the west end of Laketon Ave. Photos of many of these birds are attached.

Good birding."

- Caleb Putnam

Location:     Muskegon Wastewater System
Observation date:     3/13/10
Notes:     Ava and Marcellus.
Number of species:     33

Canada Goose     120
American Black Duck     5
Mallard     500
Northern Pintail     1
Green-winged Teal     5
Redhead     2
Bufflehead     17
Common Goldeneye     7
Hooded Merganser     1
Common Merganser     2
Bald Eagle     4
Northern Harrier     2
Rough-legged Hawk     1
Killdeer     4
Ring-billed Gull     2000
Herring Gull     310
Lesser Black-backed Gull     1
Glaucous Gull     2
Mourning Dove     2
Downy Woodpecker     1
Northern Shrike     1
American Crow     X
Horned Lark     40
Black-capped Chickadee     X
Red-breasted Nuthatch     1
Eastern Bluebird     11
American Robin     X
European Starling     150
American Tree Sparrow     6
Song Sparrow     15
Red-winged Blackbird     X
Eastern Meadowlark     6
American Goldfinch     X

White-winged Scoters and Hooded Mergansers

"Hello all.  I was out at the Muskegon Channel around 4:30 today (Sat.) and drove into the next entrance just down from the USS Silversides.  Two female Scoters (White-winged) were swimming toward me and took off shortly.  I got to see the white on the speculum for I.D.  I also sighted 8 Hooded Mergansers at the Wastewater on Wed the 10th." - Janet Helmer

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sandhill Cranes

This pair was in Hofma Preserve, south of Grand Haven, March 7th. Saw a pair fly into Snug Harbor Tuesday late afternoon. I was hoping to get picture Wednesday a.m. but a dog near the waters edge scared them back into the air. Peregrine falcon at the Cobb Plant, Tuesday 4p.m.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

NOT a Golden Eagle!

Just a measley Red Tail Hawk (why do I bother :) )

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Saturday at the Wastewater

Golden Eagle, north end of Swanson Road. Northern Shrike near the maintenance building south of Apple Ave.

Golden Eagle