Friday, December 30, 2011

Lake Michigan Waterbirds - Dec. Highlights

.
For the month of December, I conducted 11 waterbird counts along the shore of Lake Michigan. The objective of these watches is to better gauge diversity, numbers, trends, chronology, and flight patterns of birds moving over the Big Lake. After November, most sightings probably represent roving winter residents, as opposed to passing migrants. Therefore, to reduce bias from local conditions and to expand geographic representation, I count from four different Muskegon County locations. Unless the weather is particularly severe, watches last at least one hour in duration.
.
This past month, I encountered 24 species flying over Lake Michigan. Four were terrestrial species, and the rest were various waterbirds (including 13 species of ducks). Some peak counts included 1 Canvasback (12/17), 44 Redhead (12/17), 4 Surf Scoter (12/6), 28 White-winged Scoter (12/20), 2 Black Scoter (12/6, 12/16, 12/18), 324 Common Goldeneye (12/6), 1 Hooded Merganser (12/6), 4 Red-throated Loon (12/13), 2 Horned Grebe (12/13), 1 Cormorant (12/6), 2 Bald Eagle (12/17), 1 Rough-legged Hawk (12/17), 2 Glaucous Gull (12/22), 3 Great Black-backed Gull (12/20) and 27 Snow Bunting (12/20).
.
Due to large concentrations, distance, continual back and forth movements, and short flights, Long-tailed Ducks can be difficult to count with precision and reliability. My best tally this month was 6,190 on 12/17.
.
Brian Johnson
.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Good Gulls at Grand Haven State Park

.



.
Today I took a walk on the Grand Haven north pier; not much going on: Greater Scaup, Red-breasted Mergansers, Mallards and a few Ring-billed Gulls.  Just before I left, I scoped the shoreline on the south side.  The first thing I saw were 4 adult Great Black-backed Gulls.  So I made the 6.5 mile drive to go 300 yards south.  When I got there, I could only find 3 adult Great Black-backed Gulls I am pretty sure there were at least 6 juvenile Great Black-backed Gulls on the beach.  Then I found two Glaucous Gulls.  Lets hope they stick around for Sunday.  It would be nice to have these on the list Jan 1.
.
- Charlie DeWitt
.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bald Eagle Yoga + Bad Human Behavior

.
I spent a couple hours at the Wastewater with this Bald Eagle Wednesday afternoon.
.
( There were a lot of birders / photographers chasing one Snowy Owl all over, repeatedly approaching way too close, even on foot.  I guess someone got bored with the owl flying away, so they came over and got out of their car to scare off the eagle, too!!   #@%*#!  
.
Don Neumann
.


.
Great shots of the eagle, Don!  A Mich-listers report yesterday described similar behavior of people repeatedly approaching a Snowy Owl at the Wastewater on Tuesday.   See "Number of Birders at the Wastewater Lately?" posted Dec. 22 below.  - Ric
.

This Lady Came By Too!

.

I hadn't seen a Red-Bellied Woodpecker in at least a month until this female showed up today. I was beginning to wonder where they went.

Mike VanderStelt
.

Male Downy Woodpecker

.

I got this little guy this morning waiting for his turn at the feeder.

Mike VanderStelt
.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Cooper's Hawk



This Cooper's Hawk was kind enough to sit in the woods behind my house today, 12/26/11.



Mike Boston

Immature Red-tailed Hawk





Just a couple shots from early this afternoon

Mike VanderStelt
.

Wastewater Birding and Birds

.
My son Steve and I saw about six other birding vehicles on the Wastewater properties this morning, all exhibiting cautious behavior in regard to approaching the one mostly white Snowy Owl we viewed on the property.  I did hear a report of two birders' cars yesterday parked in the way of W.W. vehicles that needed to get by.  Please check your mirrors often and keep your car well to the right on roads and dikes out there.
.
Other birds this morning at WW included a Merlin in the trees east of the Administration offices, two Red-tailed Hawk, 1 American Kestrel and a flock of Snow Bunting west of the offices.
.
Yesterday afternoon Ken Sapkowski and Glenda Eikenberry snapped the photo below of a Northern Shrike just beyond the point where Laketon turns northwest (about 1/2 mile west of Swanson) on the south Wastewater properties.  They also reported 4 Northern Harrier, 1 Snowy Owl, 1 Bald Eagle, "1 zillion" Northern Shoveler, a few Gadwall and 4 American Kestrel on Moreland between Apple Ave. and Coopersville.
..
- Ric
.
.
.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Holiday Owls

.
On Christmas Eve, Rick Hamlin and his wife found two Short-eared Owls on the Wastewater properties ...
.

... and on Christmas Day Carol Cooper followed the voices of some angry crows to this Great Horned Owl at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve.
.
..

.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pileated Woodpecker Question

.
December 22 Email:

We recently noticed a young, female Pileated Woodpecker chiseling out a hole in a large beech tree right behind our house.  Do you know if this is normal behavior for these birds?  I know that they usually drill for insects and the males excavate the holes for the nest in the spring.  It just seemed odd to me to see a female excavating a hole in the winter.  I would venture to guess she has created a place to stay warm during the cold weather but I am not sure.  Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Rick Hamlin
.
.
Rick, I don't know.  Let's see if anyone else has an answer. 
.

Number of Birders at Wastewater Lately?

.
Before it archives off this page,* you might be interested in reading the eight comments under "A Male 'Neuman' in its Nesting Spot" posted December 12 below.  The gist of that conversation revolves around the amount of harm caused to the Snowy Owls at the Wastewater when they're approached closely or repeatedly by birders, and if publicizing the sightings of the Snowies (on this website, WOOD-TV, Mich-listers, etc.) is detrimental to the welfare of those birds.
.
I would especially like to hear from those who frequently bird the Wastewater how much of an increase in birders you've seen lately (since the Snowies arrived or since the WOOD-TV bit) or any observations of what you'd consider bad bird-watcher behavior.
.
I'd suggest commenting under this post (as opposed to the Dec. 12 post) or sending me an email at oakridge35@yahoo.com.  If you email, please indicate if you want your comment to be posted; I will not post any email comments unless the sender specifically requests that I do.
..
Also, unless you have a gmail account, I believe your comments posted on this site will identify you only as "Anonymous".  Anonymous postings are okay, but if you want others to know who you are, please type your name at the end of your comment before submitting it.  Thanks!
.
- Ric Pedler
.
*  It has already archived.  To find it, scroll to the bottom of this page and click "Older Posts".  Thanks to those who have already commented here!
 .

Brown Creeper

.
I just caught a very quick shot of this Brown Creeper this morning before it went behind the branches and disappeared for good.  I was hoping it would stick around for a better shot, but no.
.
Mike VanderStelt
.
.

Wednesday Birds Include a Pheasant!

.
Two Dec. 21 Emails:
.
Karl Overman and I saw 7 Purple Sandpipers along the south breakwall in Muskegon this morning.  Five were near the lighthouse and two were along the south side of the breakwall very close to shore.  I was able to get some good photos of these which are on my flickr site.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/22374475@N07/  
We also saw a probable Surf Scoter and a Common Loon there.
Later we saw a Snowy Owl and two Glaucous Gulls at the Muskegon Wastewater.
.
James Fox
Farmington Hills
.
Ric,
Big fan of your website. Today at 2:00 p.m. was lucky enough to see this female Ring-necked Pheasant by the parking lot at Snug Harbor.

John Mish
Grand Rapids, MI
 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Muskegon City CBC Sets a Record

.
Email from Feller and Dee DeWitt:
.
Here are the results of the December 17 2011 Muskegon Area Christmas Bird Count.  We set a new record of 69 species!  The previous record was 61 species. 
.
Their accompanying Word file with all species and areas charted showed a total of 23,650 individual birds.
.

Golden Eagle at Wastewater Monday

.
Sorry for the late post.  The following report was on Mich-listers Monday December 19.  I think a Graylag Goose is a "farm goose", and those have been seen every few years at Wastewater.  If that's not the case, please let me know.   Thanks!
.
- Ric
.
Birding the Wastewater this morning, in a flock of about 25 Canada Geese was what I believe is a Greylag Goose.  It was midway along the south side of the East storage lagoon.  Pink feet and bill, NO white on face.  Golden Eagle at crop circle 16.

Terry Grabill
Newaygo
.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gulls at Wastewater Saturday

.
Email from Josh Kamp:
.
Sorry for the late report, but on Saturday several of us went out to the Wastewater and had pretty good gulls from the dike between the dump and the east lagoon. Highlights included:

1st winter and adult Glaucous
1st winter Thayer's
Adult Iceland
Possible 1st winter Lesser Black-backed
.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Rare Santa Owl at Wastewater until Sunday

.
For those unfamiliar with Mike VanderStelt's wacky personality unique sense of humor, the Santa Owl above is his creation.
.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Grosbeaks NO; But Other Good Stuff

.
Jonathan Lautenbach has emailed that the previous report at eBird of Evening Grosbeaks on the Dec. 14 Wastewater Christmas Bird Count was a recording error: should have been American Goldfinches.  
.
The reports of Purple Sandpipers along the south breakwall at Pere Marquette Park continue.  Jeff Timmer had 4 PUSA on Friday Dec. 16 plus two Glaucous Gulls, James Markham 2 PUSA that afternoon, and Ken Sapkowski and Glenda Eikenberry 4 PUSA Saturday Dec. 17 (photo below)
.
Ken and Glenda also went out to the Wastewater on Saturday Dec. 17 noting 3 Snowy Owls, 2 Northern Harriers, 1 Rough-legged Hawk and a Partridge in a Pear Tree, (sorry, couldn't resist that), 1 Red-tailed Hawk, 1 Bald Eagle and a large flock of Snow Buntings.
.
- Ric
.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday at the Wastewater

.
Northern Pintail at the Wastewater Friday. Also, I believe, the same Bald Eagle as in Mike's video (below).

Don Neumann
.

.

Bald Eagle Video

.
Here's a link to a short video I did of an adult Bald Eagle this afternoon.  Nothing special, just sitting on a branch by the Wastewater Administration Building.
.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guWultRdH4Y
.
On the bottom of the screen under the eagle it will say"360P"; click on that and choose "1080P" for high-def.
.
Mike VanderStelt
.
Mike noted that this bird is probably a male because it had been perched near a noticeably larger Bald Eagle before flying over to pose for Mike's video.  - Ric
.

State Game Area CBC Results from Wednesday

.
As I wait for all the submissions from the participants of the Muskegon Wastewater Christmas Bird Count on December 14, 2011, I thought I'd share my personal results from the day. My section comprises the trails and backwoods of the Muskegon State Game Area, and I have been walking the same general route for the last several surveys. Unlike the other Wastewater CBC zones, coverage here aims to better sample certain species that are insufficiently encountered by birders working from their vehicles. Moreover, because bird feeders and human dwellings are absent, we can better measure usage of natural forage and habitats.
.
I hiked 3.0 miles in the morning (green) and 4.2 miles in the afternoon (red), as shown in the image below.
.

This year, a complete lack of snow, little ice, and the constant rain made for quite unusual conditions. The rain definitely reduced detections, and it may have reduced bird activity as well. I ended the day with 242 birds of 23 species (somewhat below the previous averages of 283 birds and 25 species).
Highlights included Red-headed Woodpecker (first since 2005), 10 Northern Flickers (new high tally), Red-breasted Nuthatch, Yellow-rumped Warbler (rare away from the Muskegon River), and Song Sparrow. Misses (birds seen on at least five of the previous nine counts) comprised Bald Eagle, Mourning Dove, Brown Creeper (present every previous year), and Golden-crowned Kinglet. Interestingly, numerical fluctuations among several species this year coincided well with banding results from Muskegon Lake (e.g., low numbers of Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, American Goldfinch versus high numbers of Blue Jay and Tree Sparrow).
In the evening, a short owling foray at a few dependable stops produced one each of Eastern Screech-Owl, Great Horned Owl, and Barred Owl.
.
The complete list (with pertinent past averages):
Mallard - 1
Red-tailed Hawk - 2
Eastern Screech-Owl - 1
Great Horned Owl - 1
Barred Owl - 1
Red-headed Woodpecker - 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 5
Downy Woodpecker - 7 (average 12)
Hairy Woodpecker - 4 (average 4)
Northern Flicker - 10 (average 4)
Pileated Woodpecker - 3
Blue Jay - 23 (average 8)
American Crow - 3 (average 7)
Black-capped Chickadee - 32 (average 46)
Tufted Titmouse - 15 (average 5)
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 1
White-breasted Nuthatch - 6 (average 13)
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 7 (average 8)
American Tree Sparrow - 96 (average 75)
Song Sparrow - 2
Dark-eyed Junco - 4 (average 13)
Northern Cardinal - 12 (average 13)
American Goldfinch - 5 (average 10)
.  
- Brian
.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pere Marquette This Morning

.
December 14 Email:
.
I didn't want Josh Kamp to belittle me for not chasing Jeff Timmer's Purple Sandpipers, so I detoured on my way to college early this morning and subjected myself to a pre-sunrise endurance test on the pier in search of this bird.  First off, my britches got soaked to the mid-thigh, though this wasn't as bad as the half-fledged tsunami that basically knocked me off the pier 3 weeks ago.  I found a single Purple Sandpiper exactly halfway between "the elbow" and the shore on the north side of the pier.  Read my eBird checklist for more details.  I forgot my binoculars and camera, so all I have to show for this bird is a dusky Tracfone image (I'm not even sure you can see the bird).

There was a Horned Grebe visiting the Purple Sandpiper, but there were no good gulls, no Red-necked Grebe, and I was still missing 3 Purple Sandpipers.


Good Birding,
Zachary DeBruine
.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sandpipers, Grebe & Good Gulls at Muskegon

.
Jeffery Timmer to Mich-listers Tuesday Dec. 13:
.
This morning from 10:00-11:00 a.m. I had four very tame Purple Sandpipers at Pere Marquette Park in Muskegon.  All four were before "the elbow" on the north side of the south pier.  I also had a late Red-necked Grebe on the calm water between the breakwalls feeding along the north breakwall.  In a group of gulls along Pere Marquette Beach, there were three adult Great Black-backed Gulls, one juvenile, and two adult Glaucous Gulls
.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Purple Sandpiper at Muskegon

.
.
I went to the south pier at Muskegon this afternoon to find the Purple Sandpiper.  I got there about 1:30 p.m. and Feller was there observing the bird, so all I had to do was walk out and take a few pictures.  It was on the north side of the south pier about 100 feet from the elbow.
.
- Charlie DeWitt
.

A Male "Neuman" in its Nesting Spot

.
.
I didn't get much of anything "post worthy" except this last, of the species Neuman Raptor, hunting as would be expected.

Mike VanderStelt
.
P.S. Nice shots in your post, Don!
.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Raptor Sunday at the Wastewater

.
Sunday (12-11) at the Wastewater: Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk and Snowy Owl.
.
Don Neumann
.




.

Sandpipers Again on Sunday

.
Very windy conditions today at Pere Marquette Park but two Purple Sandpipers were viewable on the partly icy rocks along the north (protected) side of the south breakwall 50-100 yards from shore shortly after 1:00 this afternoon.  Conditions did not allow walking further than the first safety light tower beyond the shoreline without getting sprayed.  Thank you, Joseph Lautenbach (post below) for my 201st species for 2011.
.
FYI:  I saw one the minute I arrived but had to wait 15 minutes before it appeared again (with its friend) despite their being in a relatively small, restricted area the whole time.  As always, they can be there but not be within line of sight because of the rocks.  Best viewing angle this afternoon was from the shore.
.
- Ric
.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Purple Sandpipers - Finally !

.
Joseph Lautenbach to Mich-Chat Dec. 10:
.
"Today there were 3 Purple Sandpipers on the south breakwall in Muskegon.  All three were together just before the 'elbow'."
.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Junco Kinda - Comments Requested !

.



I have this bird at a feeder.  It appears to be a Junco of some kind.  To me it looks like a cross with a Pink-sided Junco. In the top picture you can see there is more white in the left wing than in the right wing; the Pink-sided doesn't have that much white in the wing.  Maybe I have a three-way split. :-)  I need another bird for my year list, so give me some good answers.
.
Charlie DeWitt
,

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Six Snowies + Shrike at Wastewater Tuesday

.
Driving around the Wastewater this afternoon I observed 12 species including 6 Snowy Owls (1 immature on the Center Dike which BTW is now barricaded for some reason, plus 3 immatures and 2 adults on the fields west and east of Swanson south of White as reported Sunday), an immature light morph Rough-legged Hawk north of the East Lagoon, and the Northern Shrike north of Laketon west and east of Seba on the south side.
.
- Ric
.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Feeder Birds

.



I spent some time at the feeder this morning: Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadee, Wild Turkey.  Notice the band on the chickadee.  He must be an "Old Duffer".  I think there hasn't been any banding at the feeder for three years.
.
- Charlie DeWitt
.

Wet Peregrine at WW Saturday

.
Dan Lockard snapped these two pictures of the young Peregrine Falcon at the Wastewater on Saturday.  It looks wetter than in its portrait above!
.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Six Snowies at Wastewater Sunday

.
Dave Herdegen, Bonnie Kot, Dick Good and Shirley Good report "six Snowy Owls scattered across the field approximately 200 yards SSE of the White Road and Swanson Road intersection" at the Wastewater today (Dec. 4).
.

Sparrow Mix- MLNP Banding Report

.
We completed our sixth fall season of banding at Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve on November 30. Because our time was roughly split between running nets and restoring habitat (primarily removing the massive bittersweet infestation), it was a particularly busy season. Our final tally was just over 1000 birds banded. While September (which is characterized by the passage of neotropical migrants) was the worst September in the station's history, the following month (during which temperate migrants dominate) was our best-ever October. Those results reflect the influences of banding effort, habitat work at the site, weather patterns, and population fluctuations.

In general, sparrows (temperate migrants) were common this season. The following collage shows six local migrants/residents that show mostly plain underparts as adults.


Clockwise from top left: Swamp, Chipping, Field, Clay-colored, American Tree, and immature White-crowned.

The Clay-colored Sparrow pictured above was actually banded near Ludington this past summer. Seeking to gauge local densities, age distributions, breeding status, and survivorship, Dave Dister and I initiated a study on the species at an old Christmas-tree farm near his home. Consequently, we aimed to band every adult male we could find. Although we only had four days to devote this year, we did catch 26 territorial males within the 25 acres of appropriate habitat in the parcel. Unfortunately, we ran out of time before capturing the last few. We also caught 5 females. We look forward to seeing how many return next summer.
.
- Brian Johnson
.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ed Post December 13 Holland Audubon

.
To our photographers and anyone else who might be interested, the Holland Audubon Club's December program is "A Year in the Life of a Nature Photographer" by Ed Post.
.
Hope Church ~ Commons Hall
77 W. 11th Street
Holland, Michigan
Tues. Dec. 13, 2011
Social Time:  6:15 p.m.
Program:  7:00 p.m.
.

Four Snowies Saturday Afternoon

.
Thanks to John Brenneman for his comment under my post this morning that he saw not only a Rough-legged Hawk but also four Snowy Owls at the Wastewater this afternoon.

John Brenneman said...
1:15 pm, RLHA on power line north of the east pond, 4 SNOW on the south side of White Road on each side of Swanson.
.

Shrike but No Raptors Saturday Morning

.
Excepting ducks and geese, there may have been more birders than birds on the rainy Wastewater properties this morning.  Of the half-dozen birders I spoke with, no one had seen any owls, eagles or falcons.  If any of you reading this did see anything else significant, please let me know.  Thanks!
.
The Northern Shrike was hunting on both sides of Laketon beyond the elbow (west of the model airport and west of the maintenance buildings) around 10:15.
.
(I was not trying to count waterbirds so their numbers below are all underestimates, especially the Northern Shovelers.)
.
- Ric Pedler
.
Muskegon Wastewater System, Muskegon, US-MI
Dec 3, 2011 9:10 AM - 10:20 AM
Protocol: Traveling
8.0 mile(s)
Comments:    Rainy; lotsa birders but no raptors.
10 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  2000
American Black Duck (Anas rubripes)  7
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  20
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)  3000
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  3
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)  7
gull sp. (Larinae sp.)  300
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  40
Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  2
Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris)  3

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)
.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Golden Eagle at Wastewater Friday

.

Got a shot of this Golden Eagle this afternoon at W.W.

Mike VanderStelt
.

Dunlin at Wastewater Thursday

.
Email December 1:
.
Birding the Wastewater today I found what I believe to be a Dunlin in the northwest corner of the east lagoon.  Seems a little late in the year to me?

Rick Hamlin
.
.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Owl Up Close and Eagle Action

.
A couple Snowy Owls from the Wastewater Wednesday.  I guess if you're going to live in the Arctic, it's good to have insulated eyelids!
.
.
This immature Bald Eagle didn't like sharing airspace with a Snowy Owl and chased him all around the east lagoon.

.        
Don Neumann
.

Long-tailed Duck Etc. at W.W. Tuesday

.
Email November 29:.

While spending some time at the Wastewater today photographing the Snowy Owls, I found a Long-tailed Duck at the southeast corner of the west lagoon and several American Pipits still on the center dike road.  I also saw a very large flock of Snow Buntings, probably 200 birds, on the road that travels east to west at the north part of the property.  Several Great Blue Herons are still there as well.

Rick Hamlin
.


.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Good Wastewater Birds Monday

.
Chip Francke to Mich-Listers:
.
Pat Bazany, Connie Peoples and I searched the Pere Marquette Park pier today (Monday) for purple sandpipers with no success.  At the Muskegon Wastewater we found two snowy owls (each was sitting on top of a short white structure in the farm field in the southeast corner of Swanson and White Road (the structures are about 100 yards apart and can be seen from Swanson south of White), two eared grebes along the dikes around the east pond, ten snow geese and at least two cackling geese mixed in with the numerous Canadas in the east pond, and two lesser black-backed gulls (adults) in the east pond off the dump.  
.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Eagles and Owls, Ho Hum

.
.
I saw a Blue Jay !   :-)
.
Charlie DeWitt
.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Banded Bald Eagle: I.D. Requested

.
I'll see all the Snowy Owls and raise 2 Bald Eagles! Taken on the west side of west the lagoon November 25.  The leg band is on the upper bird if someone knows how to decipher the code.

Don Neumann


.

Two Short-eared's This Evening

.
Carol and I (and about ten unknown birders west of us by the model airport) watched two Short-eared Owls interacting along Swanson north of Laketon on the south Wastewater properties at 5:30 this evening.  One landed briefly in the road.
.
- Ric Pedler
.

Let it Snow!

.

.

Just a few angles of the Snowy Owl taken this morning

Mike VanderStelt
.