To see all the details in some of the pictures, right-click them. From the mini-list choose "Open link in new window". In that window click the picture for actual size, often too big to fit your monitor. Scroll around to appreciate all the details. Then click again to see the entire picture.
This morning (Oct. 28) at 7:10 a.m. I found a Short-eared Owl sitting in the road at the intersection of Swanson and Laketon. I had another view of a Short-eared Owl at 8:02 a.m. on Swanson Road (south of Apple) just north of the drain ditch that crosses Swanson. Most likely the same owl.
When it got lighter, I took a quick spin around the east lagoon. In the southwest corner there were ten grebes. I am not sure which type they were Eared or Horned. I also had six Greater Yellowlegs at the same spot.
All shorebirds located in drawn-down aerator, the second one in from the west:
One Cackling Goose in an infiltration basin with one 'standard' Canada Goose, great size comparison; one Snow Goose in East Lagoon; 5 Peregrine Falcons soaring and dive-bombing each other high over fly ash pile.
. Kathryn Mork: The Purple Sandpiper was there (south breakwall, Pere Marquette Park) at 9:00 this morning. Just before the elbow I scanned along the inside edge and I could see it at about the second lamp post. It was at the water's edge and was out of sight when I got out there. But its heart softened and it came up on top of a rock and I got a very good look at it. I saw just one.
Ric Pedler: Its heart hardened soon afterward; I walked the length of the south breakwater this morning between 9:40 and 10:15 and saw only a female Redhead and a juvenile Double-crested Cormorant. (The morning was still a success, however, because then I went hawk-watching at the Channel and saw our first migrating Rough-legged Hawk of the season and a migrating Merlin.) .
Today (Saturday, Oct. 23) while conducting a lakewatch from the White Lake Channel, Neil Gilbert, my brother Michael, and I found this Red Phalarope (3 photos below) swimming in the channel about 10 feet off the pier. When we left the area at around 11:00 a.m., the bird was NOT present.
At Muskegon Wastewater we had a Northern Shrike on the south side of Swanson Road.
. October 23 Email from Charlie DeWitt of Species Counted on Our Field Trip:
Ring-billed Gull, European Starling, Mourning Dove, American Crow, Mallard, Great Blue Heron, Canada Goose, Norther Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Horned Lark, Ruddy Duck, American Pipit, Snow Goose, Northern Shoveler, Bufflehead, Northern Pintail, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Green-winged Teal, Hooded Merganser, Snow Bunting, American Coot, American Black Duck, Gadwall, Northern Cardinal, Dark-eyed Junco, White-breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Purple Finch, Eastern Bluebird, Horned Lark and Blue Jay.
After the field trip Carol and I stayed at the Wastewater until 1:30 p.m. and picked up Savannah Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark, Mute Swan, Redhead, House Finch, American Goldfinch, American Robin, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Cackling Goose.I posted some pictures below.
Since I had seen the reports of the Purple Sandpiper along the breakwall at Pere Marquette, I was not surprised to see one there this afternoon (Oct.23). I wasn't expecting to see my first Snow Buntings of the season in the same place though.
After the Muskegon County Nature Club field trip (Oct. 23) I did some more birding at the Wastewater. I found the Cackling Goose in a flooded rapid infiltration cell. It was just south of White Road in line with row "E" just where the road make a sharp bend before you get to the road that takes you to the headquarters building.
. Four reports about good birds in the area. All are from reliable sources.
1.Short-eared Owls were seen on the Muskegon County Wastewater properties Friday morning (Oct. 22) over the same field where the American Golden Plovers had been reported a few days earlier -- basically the disked field along the west side of Swanson Road north of the East Lagoon.
2. A Purple Sandpiper was sighted by Feller DeWitt yesterday morning (Oct. 22) and seen later by others at the same location as previously reported -- along the rocks on the inner side of the Pere Marquette Park south breakwall almost as far out as the lighthouse.
3. Caleb Putnam phoned about a Red Phalarope at the White Lake Channel this morning. He later posted this to Mich-Listers:
"I received a call from Jonathan Lautenbach and Neil Gilbert that they found aRed Phalaropein theWhite Lake channelat Whitehall this morning 23 Oct around 8 AM. The bird is in a portion of the channel with a rocky edge, toward Lake Michigan from the parking area along the south edge of the channel."
4. On this morning's nature club fieldtrip several of us saw over 30 species of birds on the Wastewater properties including 50+ Snow Buntings on the dike between the two large lagoons. We did not see any owls or plovers. A complete trip report will be posted on our homepage sometime next week. .
At last night's MCNC meeting I heard that two Purple Sandpipers were reported to Mich-Chat by Steve Minard Wednesday (Oct. 20) along the inner side of the south breakwall at Pere Marquette Park beyond the elbow and almost as far out as the lighthouse.
(Sorry for this late post; I did not receive that message via email and will check to see if I'm still subscribed properly to Mich-Chat.)
. Saturday morning Oct. 16 there were 76 American Golden-Plovers and 4 Black-bellied Plovers at Muskegon Wastewater. This is the same disked field as had plovers last weekend (see post below), the first one on the west side of Swanson Road north of Apple. Be aware that goose hunting season is in progress in this and other fields, so scope from the road.
As testament to the advanced stage of the migratory season, numbers of Long-tailed Ducks are building offshore, more overwintering landbirds are arriving daily, and neotropical migrant passerines are very nearly gone from the Muskegon area. Although most individuals have recently left, sparrow diversity has been quite high at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve, and on October 12 two new species (first and third photos) were captured.
Although Fox Sparrows rarely overwinter in Muskegon County, this northern species arrives later in the fall and earlier in the spring than most other sparrows.
Compared to the other small thrushes, Hermit Thrushes are shorter-distance migrants that are much more tolerant of cold weather. They have been rather numerous these last few days.
This American Tree Sparrow is one of the earliest fall records from Muskegon County. A second was caught on the 14th. This is the only nominate sparrow that regularly winters in Muskegon County (Dark-eyed Juncos and Snow Buntings can also be considered sparrows).
Field Sparrow passage coincides with slightly warmer weather than that for Fox Sparrow. The species is a fairly common breeder and a rare winter resident.
I have noticed that migration seems unusually advanced this autumn. This has been evident for both long and short distance migrants. For instance, White-crowned Sparrows have peaked 9 days earlier than average at the Preserve. Curious as to any long-term trend (or lack thereof), I compared the passage dates of White-crowned Sparrows from my banding operation (2006-2010) to those banded by Larry Walkinshaw in Laketon Township (1960-1979). His average date of passage was October 6, three days earlier than the recent mean.
Contrary to popular belief, the accelerated phenology this fall has more to do with warm weather than cold weather. While it may seem logical that prolonged cold spells or an upcoming hard winter would force birds to vacate earlier, this really is not the case. A mild winter and spring at the beginning of 2010 induced many species of temperate migrants to return to the breeding grounds earlier than typical. As the spring progressed, warm temperatures promoted bountiful insect populations which favored a quick transition from the migratory to nesting phases among both temperate and neotropical migrants. Continued food abundance generated by the summer heat likely promoted a faster breeding cycle, a speedy molt, and rapid pre-migratory fat deposition. The warm, placid weather this fall has kept food resources high and energy expenditures lower.
A flock of 25 American Golden Plovers was feeding in a recently disked field at the Wastewater about 6 p.m Sunday Oct 10. It was the first field on the west side of Swanson north of Apple. The Plovers were moving around some and hard to see on the ground as they were often down in dips and far back from the road.
Ric- in checking this blog I am noticing all of a sudden that nearly all of the old messages are formatted incorrectly, squeezed into the rightmost column on the screen, and bascially illegible. This started for the first time about a week ago, maybe less, and I tried to go in and fix it but do not have admin privileges for the "layout" area. Are others noticing this new problem, and Ric, can you attempt to see what is different, or let me know if it's just me?
. Bruce Delemarter sends us these three photos taken at 8:35 this morning (Sunday 10/10/10) of the odd-looking geeseon the East Lagoon at Wastewater(see below Charlie DeWitt's post and photos from Friday). Does anyone know what kind of geese these are?
I took some pictures of what I believe to be Greater White-fronted Geese x Canada and Snow hybrids. I took the pictures around 6 p.m. on Oct 8 at the Muskegon County Wastewater.
In the top picture the white goose on the right is smaller than the one on the left; the dark goose looks like a Greater White-fronted x Canada. In the bottom picture the dark goose looks like a juvenile Greater White-fronted Goose. Sibley does not show any hybrids being all white, so maybe I have a domestic something or other. Comments welcome!
The last few days of banding at Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve have been fairly slow. This has been partly due to the clear skies, under which netting success is drastically reduced. However, this can also be blamed on the relative paucity of incoming migrants. As you can see from the Nexrad radar imagery, the bulk of the passerine migration on Wednesday night was further west.
The disparity was due to the high pressure ridge located over Minnesota. During autumn, the best flights generally occur on the east side of a high pressure system. An accompanying cold front provides an impetus, the clockwise rotation provide favorable tail winds, the cool and reasonably tranquil weather facilitate powered flight, and the clear skies aid navigation.
On a local level, flight conditions have been almost as conducive to long flights, but with relatively few birds emanating from Canada, the preserve has hosted fewer birds with each subsequent day. The following image shows the SSE orientation and the fairly rapid velocity of Wednesday night's migrants.
Birds that are remaining at the preserve are gaining fat and mass at a very rapid rate. With lower densities and abundant forage, rest and fuel is readily available, and stopover migrants can balance prolonged stays with potentially much longer flights. Nevertheless, new birds do appear every day, and today offered a small surprise.
While the species is currently appearing in good numbers at the Muskegon Wastewater and other grassland habitats, this Savannah Sparrow provides a first record for Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve. Given the brushy habitat at the site, other sparrows are more typical.
Swamp Sparrows generally remain in the cattails, but a few do wander into the net lanes.
Lincoln's Sparrows are fairly common at the preserve. I have banded seven so far this fall, but none since September 27.
White-crowned Sparrows are one of the most common species at the preserve, and I capture an unusually high proportion of adult birds. In fact, it is the only regular breeding species or migrant in which adults outnumber hatching-year birds. Most individuals belong to the eastern race, characterized by black lores. However, I do catch a few Gambel's White-crowned Sparrows, a white-lored subspecieswhich breeds further west. This year, possibly due to those amenable weather conditions keeping such birds west of Lake Michigan, I have only captured one.
. I wonder if someone would help me make a positive ID on these gulls. The dark one appears to be one of the "Black-backed" gulls. When I sighted them at the east end of the East Lagoon at Muskegon Wastewater this afternoon (Oct. 6), I was sure the dark one was a Great Black-backed Gull. But when I looked at my big Sibleys, I became confused, especially looking at the dark area around the eye. Thanks!
. Brian Johnson and I conducted an International Shorebird Survey (ISS) at the Wastewater on Tues, Oct 5. The highlight was an immature White-rumped Sandpiper along the East Lagoon center dike shoreline. Aerator #2, the second one counting from west, was drawn down and had attracted a small variety of shorebirds, though the north shore of the West Lagoon and the East Lagoon had scattered shorebirds as well.
- Carolyn Weng
Location: Muskegon Wastewater System
Observation date: 10/5/10
Notes: Route completed; winds calm to WNW 12 mph; 0-10% cloud cover; temps 63 to 53 degrees F. Number of species: 6
I just want to let you know that my wife and I saw a Northern Harrierat the Muskegon Wastewater plant today. It was flying over the middle road between the two dikes. I was able to get a few pictures from a distance and I have attached the best two.
I also photographed a Peregrine Falconlast Sunday (Sept. 26) on top of the south pier light at the Muskegon Channel (Pere Marquette Park). This one was really friendly and stayed for about 15 minutes. I have attached one picture of that one as well.
Rich Schadle- Grand Rapids
After thanking Rich for his photos, I asked him to check his other images of the Peregrine to see if it were banded (the bird's age, behavior and location might indicate it's one of this year's Cobb Plant brood). Rich replied with the following two photos. I've emailed Nik Kalejsof the D.N.R. to look at these pictures, and if Nik sends us any information about the bird's identity, I'll post it.
BTW: These peregrine pictures are excellent examples of how you can click a blog photo once, then click it again, to see it full-sized. In this case, possibly read the band numbers.
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