Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ruddy Turnstones at Grand Haven


Nemesis: Anyone or anything by which, it seems, one must inevitably be defeated or frustrated.  I am not going to say who that might be because you know who you are (KM)! With that in mind the Ruddy Turnstones were back at the Grand Haven north pier this evening. The best way to find the Turnstones is to close your eyes and walk about 900 paces due west.

- Charlie DeWitt

Monday, August 30, 2010

Wastewater Shorebird Report from Sunday

Muskegon Wastewater, Sunday a.m., Aug 29, 2010:

74 Baird's Sandpipers were counted at numerous locations along the lagoons and on the "mat" in the smallest basin/aerator (adjacent to the center dike).  There was a flock of 27 Wilson's Phalaropes actively feeding in the East Lagoon .  Also seen were 3 Semipalmated Plovers, 26 Killdeer, 3 Lesser Yellowlegs, 5 Sanderlings, and 1 Pectoral, 1 Semipalmated, 12 Least, and 8 Spotted Sandpipers.

- Carolyn Weng

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tennessee Warbler

This morning I noticed a pair of warbler type birds in my backyard that aren't usually part of my menagerie. I was only able to get a picture of one of them. The other bird was different than this one, I wish I could have gotten a photo of it.

- Mike Boston



Saturday, August 28, 2010

Morning Walk at Little Black Lake

Went for a 2 1/2 hour walk at Little Black Lake.  I saw 16 species of birds, all common; 6 species of butterflies; and 5 species of Dragonflies. This Common Buckeye was trying to warm up so it could fly.

- Charlie DeWitt

Migrating Osprey at Channel

Around 10:00 this morning I was at the Channel for less than 15 minutes just to get permission from the museum folks to hawkwatch from the McLane again this year and sweep the cobwebs out of the railings.  Even in that short period of time, two raptors appeared; the first a northbound accipiter (probably the local Cooper's Hawk) carrying prey over to the State Park, and the second a migrating Osprey.

- Ric Pedler

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Seven Wastewater Photos - Dan Lockard

Here are some Wastewater bird pictures from the last few weeks:

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk flying
Great Blue Heron
Indigo Bunting
Upland Sandpiper
Great Horned Owl
Red-tailed Hawk perched
Pair of Common Ravens
- Dan Lockard

Monday, August 23, 2010

Unknown Spider


I went over to Little Black Lake to check on birds; nothing new.   I did find this spider.

- Charlie DeWitt

Wastewater Fieldtrip Species List - from Feller

As promised (or threatened) in Saturday's post, here's a species list from the group fieldtrip to the Wastewater on Saturday (Aug. 21).  For those who do not know Feller DeWitt, good luck!  In fairness I must mention that I had warned him any list had better be perfect or he'd be hearing from the Bird Police.

- Ric

Feller's Email:

My list as I saw them - thats my story and I am sticking with it.

American Crow, House Sparrow, European Starling, Ring-billed Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mo Do (Mourning Dove), Wood Duck, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Tree Swallow, Bank Swallow, Herring Gull, Mallard, Canada Goose, Semipalmated Plover, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Horned Lark, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Killdeer, Lesser Yellowlegs, Wild Turkey, Cooper's Hawk, Baird's Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Red-tailed Hawk, Eastern Kingbird, Ruddy Duck, Caspian Tern, Turkey Vulture, Spotted Sandpiper, Cedar Waxwing, Eastern Meadowlark, Grebe (species), Pectoral Sandpiper, Barn Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee.
IT WAS VERY HARD TO TYPE THIS LIST WITH MY HANDS CUFFED BEHIND MY BACK, DARN BIRD POLICE . I used a pencil held in my teeth, and it was REALLY REALLY hard to do ctrl alt delete.

-  Feller

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Oiled Baird's Sandpiper - Charlie DeWitt

Here are three photos by Charlie DeWitt of yesterday's oiled Baird's Sandpiper in Aerator Cell #5 at the Wastewater (see previous post).

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wastewater Birds - Saturday Morning

Carolyn Weng led 20 people including several from Sable Dunes Audubon (Pentwater) on an MCNC Fieldtrip around the Wastewater lagoons this morning.  We'll post a full species list here when/if we get one.  Highlights included a large (presumably female) Cooper's Hawk hunting the filtration lagoons north of the West Lagoon, a Caspian Tern and several Ruddy Ducks in the East Lagoon, a Pied-billed Grebe in the West Lagoon and small numbers of various shorebird species including Semipalmated Plovers, peep sandpipers, a Black-bellied Plover, Lesser Yellowlegs, a Short-billed Dowitcher, and among the Baird's Sandpipers, this individual in Aeration Cell #5 which seemed to be oiled from face to breast.


- Ric Pedler

PS:  Kathryn was  NOT  wearing her new shoes today !

Wastewater Birds - Friday Evening

Friday night (August 20Nathan and I birded the Wastewater sighting 41 species. Species of interest to us included one Red-shouldered Hawk  flying on the north side of the east lagoon and a Northern Harrier, along with two Peregrine Falcons, which we observed from the south end of the center dike. In the southwest corner of the east lagoon there was one Eared Grebe, and adjacent to the Eared Grebe on the other side of the dike were two Pied-billed Grebes. Though no Ruddy Turnstones were found, we did locate one Short-billed Dowitcher, as well as a smattering of Baird's Sandpipers -- mostly on the north end of the center dike. 

Good Birding, 
Zachary  DeBruine

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Shorebirds at Wastewater August 18 Morning

Feller DeWitt and I birded the Wastewater lagoon areas this morning counting 36 bird species and 11 species of shorebirds.

Location:    Muskegon Wastewater System
Observation date:    8/18/10
Notes:    Most of these shorebirds were in Aeration Cell #3.  Many of the Baird's Sandpipers appeared to be juveniles.

Peregrine Falcon    1
Black-bellied Plover    1
Semipalmated Plover    1
Killdeer    16
Spotted Sandpiper    19
Greater Yellowlegs    1
Lesser Yellowlegs    28
Greater/Lesser Yellowlegs    2
Semipalmated Sandpiper    27
Least Sandpiper    10
Baird's Sandpiper    11
Pectoral Sandpiper    6
peep sp.    2
Short-billed Dowitcher    1

This report was generated automatically by eBird.

- Ric Pedler

Sunday, August 15, 2010

MWS Shorebird Survey, August 15

During the August 15 International Shorebird Survey at Muskegon Wastewater I encountered ten species of shorebirds:
Semipalmated Plover 8
Killdeer 18
Spotted Sandiper 40
Solitary Sandpiper 1
Greater Yellowlegs 1
Lesser Yellowlegs 76
Ruddy Turnstone 1
Semipalmated Sandpiper 14
Least Sandpiper 53
Baird's Sandpiper 2

In addition, two juvenile Peregrine Falcons were flying by the landfill, and the leucistic Horned Lark is still present at the infiltration basins.

- Brian Johnson

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wastewater report, Aug 13 evening

Muskegonites - I haven't visited the Wastewater much this summer (been busy Kent Co. listing), but I decided to take a jaunt over there this evening, 13 Aug, to see what shorebirds were around. Most of the shorebirds were scattered around the edges of the aerator basins, in particular the SE corner of the 3rd (middle) basin, viewed most easily from its north edge. The swallow swarms are so large it is very difficult to even estimate how many are present, but conservative guesses for Tree Swallow and Bank Swallow, respectively, are 5000 and 3000. My feeling is the actual #s are much higher than this.

Rather surprising was a brood of 5 Gadwall in the east lagoon (north shore), including a VERY worn adult female accompanying the youngsters. This is the first proof of breeding I have found for the wastewater. Another 4 youngsters (unaccompanied; 3nd photo) were present in the 2nd westernmost aerator.
Baird's Sandpiper 1 adult (easternmost aerator)
Common Raven - 2 at E.end of east lagoon (my first for the MWW- thanks Ric!)
Eared Grebe: 1 (probably 3) in with Ruddy Ducks in middle of e. lagoon
Bufflehead: 3 in s. edge of e. lagoon
Semipalmated Plover 4
Semipalmated Sandpiper 14 (all or mostly juvs)
Least Sandpiper 51 (all or mostly juvs)

Here is the complete eBird checklist for the evening:

Location: Muskegon Wastewater System
Observation date: 8/13/10

Notes:  Ava and I- giving Sara the night off for movies with Stevie. Endless thousands of swallows dominated by TRES and BANS. GADW included 9 juveniles and 1 adult female in very worn plumage (photos of both), and proving local breeding.

Number of species: 45

Canada Goose 15
Wood Duck 15
Gadwall 10
American Black Duck 10
Mallard 30
Blue-winged Teal 20
Northern Shoveler 130
Green-winged Teal 8
Bufflehead 3 All juv/females in the east lagoon, south dike.
Hooded Merganser 1
Ruddy Duck 240
Eared Grebe 1 Likely 3 EAGR present but couldn't verify at distances involved.
Double-crested Cormorant 2
Great Blue Heron 3
Turkey Vulture 2
Red-tailed Hawk 2
American Kestrel 5
Semipalmated Plover 4
Killdeer 25
Spotted Sandpiper 3
Solitary Sandpiper 1
Lesser Yellowlegs 36
Upland Sandpiper 2
Semipalmated Sandpiper 14
Least Sandpiper 51
Baird's Sandpiper 1
Ring-billed Gull 325
Herring Gull 200
Mourning Dove 8
Eastern Phoebe 1
Eastern Kingbird 4
American Crow X
Common Raven 2
Horned Lark 10
Tree Swallow 5000
Bank Swallow 3000
Barn Swallow 200
Cliff Swallow 3
Eastern Bluebird 2
American Robin X
European Starling X
Cedar Waxwing 4
Red-winged Blackbird 5
meadowlark sp. 3
Brown-headed Cowbird 14
American Goldfinch X

Good Birding,
Caleb Putnam
Sparta, MI

Monday, August 9, 2010

MWS Shorebird Survey, August 9

On Monday I covered the Muskegon Wastewater Shorebird Survey for Carolyn Weng, who is visiting family in California. I tallied nine species of shorebirds.

Killdeer 21
Semipalmated Plover 1
Spotted Sandpiper 67
Lesser Yellowlegs 36
Semipalmated Sandpiper 16
Least Sandpiper 72
Baird's Sandpiper 1
Pectoral Sandpiper 3
Short-billed Dowitcher 1

An interesting find was a leucistic Horned Lark in the infiltration basins north of aerator cells. The bird was entirely dull yellow and white.

- Brian Johnson

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ruddy Turnstone at Wastewater

Today (Aug. 7) there was a Ruddy Turnstone at MWW. It was in the East Lagoon on the west shore near the pipe on the north. There were also many other shorebirds around. Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Least, Semipalmated, Baird's, Pectoral, Solitary, Spotted Sandpipers, and Semipalmated Plover.  There were many shorebirds in the center aeration cell. It also appears that this cell is being lowered which would increase the shorebird habitat. The Common Ravens continue near the dump.

 - Joseph Lautenbach to Mich-listers

Saturday, August 7, 2010

To Mich-Listers Regarding Wastewater Birds

"The dike between the retention ponds had quite a few shorebirds (presumably Friday, Aug. 6), all on the eastern side. A lot of Lesser Yellowlegs, at least a couple Greater Yellowlegs, several groups of Least Sandpipers, and at least a few Semipalmated Sandpipers. Maybe others but I didn't have time to check the whole length. One highlight was two Common Ravens on the far east side of the ponds. Can anyone comment on how commonly they are seen this far south?"   - "J Fighting Falcon"

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Two Tuesday Sandpiper Reports - Wastewater

#1 - Email from Jonathan Lautenbach:

Hey Ric,

This morning (August 3) my brother Joseph and I went to Muskegon WW to check on the shorebird numbers.  We were able to find decent numbers of shorebirds on the floating trash in the aerator cells.  Some of these include 60 Least, 30 Semipalmated, and a couple Baird's Sandpipers, both yellowleg species and 3 Semipalmated Plovers.  Also of note was an albino Bank Swallow among the 38,000+ swallows present around the lagoons.


- Jonathan Lautenbach

#2 - From Ric to eBird:

Location:    Muskegon Wastewater System
Observation date:    8/3/10

Notes:    The Common Raven was perched on the rocks along the east side of the East Lagoon at 14:25.  At 15:20 it flew to the trees southeast of Apple Ave. and Swanson Rd. (the same trees where 3 Ravens were reported July 14).

Red-tailed Hawk    4
Peregrine Falcon    1    Immature harrassed shorebirds twice near north end of main dike.
Killdeer    43
Spotted Sandpiper    17
Lesser Yellowlegs    3
Greater/Lesser Yellowlegs    1
Least Sandpiper    14
peep sp.    5
Common Raven    1
European Starling    1500    Conservative estimate - approx. 1,300 perched on power lines along north side of East Lagoon plus several hundred elsewhere around the lagoons.

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)

Thanks to the Lautenbach's for their report.  I birded around the two big lagoons.  I didn't look into the aeration cells (but I knew they were there; they were delightfully malodorous yesterday).  The only small concentration of shorebirds I found were in the northwest corner of the West Lagoon (~20) approximately where the DeBruine's reported shorebirds on July 31.  - Ric

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sandpiper Photos from July 31

August 2 Email Message to Ric regarding July 31 sandpipers (posted below):

Here is our best picture of the Western Sandpiper.  Our other pictures don't show as much
detail.  We believe this bird is a perfect example of a Western
Sandpiper in transition between breeding plumage and winter plumage --
traces of chestnut may be noticed and breast streaks are beginning to
fade and shortening.  The bill is thinner at the tip than at the base
with a slight droop.  Also easily noticed is the dark back -- much
darker than all the other peeps observed side-by-side in real-life
(and even on the picture).

We've also attached our picture of the Baird's Sandpiper, which is
very bad and, in our opinion, mostly indistinguishable.  The wing
feathers can still be noticed extending beyond the tail, and the legs
and rump are black.

Zachary and Nathan DeBruine

Monday, August 2, 2010

Shorebirds Located at Wastewater

For those interested in finding shorebirds at the Wastewater, see the Comment under the "Baird's and Western Sandpiper" report below.  It's copied from an email sent to me by Zachary and Nathan DeBruine.

- Ric

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What Gull? - Wastewater

The Western/Baird's Sandpipers reported below "may" have started Carol's and my Sunday afternoon "non-birding ride" with a quick run along the East Lagoon at Wastewater.  All we saw of shorebirds were lots of Killdeer, several Spotted Sandpipers and two Lesser Yellowlegs.  I don't usually "do" gulls, but I photographed this one on the rocks along the east side of the lagoon and would be interested in what others think of it.

It seemed to be the same size as the Herring Gulls around it and in every way except the dark plumage it looked like a Herring Gull:  pink feet, orange spot on base of bill, bill similar in size and shape to the Herring Gulls.  Great Black-backed is my guess, but it just didn't seem big enough.  Comments welcome.

PS:  As we drove down onto Swanson Road a fox stared at us from the field east of the lagoon.

- Ric

Grasshopper Sparrow totals, July 31

July ended on a high note for Grasshopper Sparrow banding at the Muskegon Wastewater. Yesterday, I caught 9 (8 new, 1 recapture) sparrows in 90 minutes, which resulted in a total of 65 individuals captured so far this year. Of these, 15 were returns from 2008 or 2009. Despite the good capture rate, densities were far below what they were the last two years. Due to the compromised habitat, there are fewer territorial males and less suitable nesting structure across the study site. However, juveniles were well represented among July captures, so productivity may have been good at the Wastewater overall.  One of the captured Grasshopper Sparrows had initiated its pre-basic (post-breeding) molt. This was the first molting sparrow I have observed this year.

In the case of Dickcissels, throughout July there have been at least seven territorial males south of Apple. Two of these birds found their way into my nets. In the last few days, their song activity has rapidly diminished. Young Bobolinks have become numerous along Swanson Road. The influx of juvenile birds, song cessation, and the start of feather replacement indicates that the post-breeding season has arrived for the majority of grassland birds. However, as in the case with certain single-brooded species like Brewer's Blackbirds, most of which vacate the area in early July, some have started this phase of the annual cycle earlier. This post-breeding / pre-migratory period is a poorly understood part of a bird's life cycle. The numbers of terrestrial insects are dramatically increasing, and it is this forage base that will fuel molting and migratory fat deposition among birds. (Upland Sandpipers and most swallows, unlike other local grassland species, accomplish most of their molt on their winter grounds, so they rapidly depart in late July and early August.) But because birds are becoming quiet and fairly reclusive - patterns exacerbated by dense vegetation and hot, humid birding conditions - their general behavior and movements are not easily observed for the remaining weeks they are here.

- Brian Johnson

Baird's and Western Sandpiper - Wastewater

We are two birders from the Grand Rapids area.  Today (Saturday, July 31) we made a shorebird survey of the Muskegon Wastewater System and came up with two interesting species. 
In the southeastern Lagoon (on the very corner near Swanson Rd.) there was one Baird's Sandpiper on the rocks.
In the aeration basin, we believe that we observed a single WESTERN
SANDPIPER associating with probably more than 50 other peeps overall,
as well as one Semipalmated Plover, and several of both species of
Yellowlegs.  Throughout our survey, Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated
Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper, and Solitary Sandpiper
were seen in addition to those species previously mentioned.  We also found a Dickcissel and a Brewer's Blackbird south of Apple Ave. on Swanson Rd and 10+ Upland Sandpipers north of Apple Ave. on Swanson Rd.

Good Birding,

Zachary and Nathan DeBruine