Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Purple Sandpiper at Muskegon

Today (Oct. 31, 2012) at about 10:45 a.m. Ken Sapkowski, Feller DeWitt and I found this Purple Sandpiper on the south side of the south pier at Muskegon about 150 feet from the elbow.  Large numbers of Long-tailed ducks were seen.  A few Buffleheads, Mallards and Red-breasted Mergansers were also seen.  The gulls were Ring-billed, Herring and Bonaparte's.

Charlie DeWitt

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rarities following Hurricane Sandy

Hey all,

The strong and consistent northerly winds associated with Hurricane Sandy are bringing in large numbers of rarities all over the place. Keep a constant eye on Lake Michigan and watch for entrained rarities.

A brief check at Holland SP in extreme conditions this morning gave me a possible Black-legged Kittiwake, a possible Cave Swallow, and a possible Little Gull. I'm not calling the official ID on any of these due to awful viewing conditions and consequently short looks at them. Waves were rolling up to 10 feet above both piers! There must be multiple Jaegers out there as well.

On the east side of Lake Michigan (where everyone is doing the birding right now), Allen Chartier reports 100+ BRANT, Red Phalarope, Black-legged Kittiwake, loons, grebes, many scoters of all species. Sabine's Gulls also are moving.

Also, watch your feeders for northern species such as Evening Grosbeaks. They have been invading Kent County already.

Get out there, and remember to be safe!

Good luck!
Zachary DeBruine

Monday, October 29, 2012

Bluebird Photo

Ken Sapkowski (who saw and photographed the Dowitcher in the post below and suggests a dowitcher-identification website in his comments on that post) emailed today that since "... you already have the Dowitcher picture on the website, how about a nice Eastern Bluebird picture instead?  Also taken Sunday." (Presumably also at the Wastewater)

- Ric 

Does Anyone Do Dowitchers?

October 28 Email:

Hi, Ric, this picture of a Dowitcher was taken at the Wastewater's most easterly aeriation pond Saturday (10/27) at 1:00 p.m.  I think it is a Short-billed even though the bill is quite long. Does someone have an opinion that can help me? Thanks, Hank Veldman

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Evening Grosbeaks Heading Our Way?

October 28 Email:

Hi Ric and the Muskegon Nature Club,
Ric, I thought you folks down in Muskegon may wish to know that "possibly" Evening Grosbeaks may make it down your way.  We again had some at our feeders this morning (10:00 a.m. Sunday October 28) for about 15 minutes!  This time there were 3 males and 2 females/juveniles.  If they stick around I'll let you know.

Jean Siesener

Hi all!
Between 12:00 and 2:00 p.m. Saturday October 27 on our feeders we had these Evening Grosbeaks visit.  There appeared to be 5 females and 1 male.  Dave Dister thought they may be a migrating family and a few of the "females" may actually be juvenile males.  As you know,  they are an irregular rare migrant in our area.  Dave also said there hasn't been a report for this species in almost a decade.  Unfortunately, they did not show back up the remainder of the afternoon.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Red Phalarope and Pine Siskins on Sunday

October 21 Emails:

Red Phalarope present again along north edge of east lagoon at Muskegon Wastewater as of 8:45 a.m. Access from west side. Dike blocked off on east/south.

Scott Jennex

Sent from my Samsung Epic™ 4G

I had 3 Pine Siskins on my thistle sock this afternoon.

Kathryn Mork

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Red Phalarope, Short-eared Owl, Etc. at W.W.

October 20 Email:

Today we went birding at the Wastewater and had some good birds there. The highlight was a single basic plumage Red Phalarope in the northwest corner of the east lagoon (pictures attached). This bird was swimming right along the edge of the dike not venturing more than three meters from the edge of the water. Also seen today was a juvenile Red-necked Phalarope along the center dike, 100+ American Golden-Plovers (in a field east of Swanson and north of Apple Ave), a single Buff-breasted Sandpiper (mixed in with the golden-plovers), 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (along the north side of the west lagoon), and a Short-eared Owl flying along Swanson north of Apple Ave.

Kevin Welsh, Michael and Jonathan Lautenbach

Short-eared Owl

Today on our MCNC field trip I was asked "When do the Short-eared Owls show up at the Muskegon County Wastewater?"  The answer to the question is, today!  There was one on the center dike at around 2:00/2:30 p.m. 

Charlie DeWitt

Possible Actic Tern at South Breakwall

To Mich-Listers:


This morning Jeff Pavlik and I found what appears to be a juv Arctic Tern at Pere Marquette in Muskegon County. Long, deeply forked tail, weak carpal bar, very thin, small bill, round head, and white secondaries all support ARTE, and I will look more closely at my pictures later.

The bird made 3 passes by the south pier from 915-940am, disappearing between each pass. It was not present when we left at 1020am.

Like I said, I will examine my pictures when home to confirm the id.

David Pavlik

Sent from my iPhone

David has posted photos and more info on his blog.  - Ric

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pine Siskin

Regarding Greg Swanson's sighting below "Early (or Late) Siskin" I saw a female Pine Siskin on one of our feeders shortly after noon today.

- Ric

Friday, October 12, 2012

Birding Hoffmaster This Morning

I spent a couple hours at Hoffmaster State Park this morning, mostly along the beach and trails north of the swimming beach, a half hour atop a dune, then a few minutes around the Gillette Nature Center.  A beautiful cold morning to be out despite numb fingers and toes.  eBird list below.

I had excellent views of Hermit Thrushes, a Swainson's Thrush, a Pileated Woodpecker foraging in some leaves on the ground, a migrating Sharp-shinned Hawk with its crop fully distended, my first Dark-eyed Junco of the season, and a dead Brown Creeper on the beach just north of the walkway leading back to the big parking lot.  It was in pristine condition, hardly any sand yet blown on the body, about 30 feet from the woods and about 200 feet from the Lake Michigan shore.  I have no idea how it died for its body to be there and welcome any thoughts from others.

- Ric

Hoffmaster State Park, Muskegon, US-MI
Oct 12, 2012 9:30 AM - 11:10 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
Comments:    From North Parking Lot north to Bald Dune + Gillette Nature Center
19 species (+3 other taxa)

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  1
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)  1    Immature, migrating, with full crop
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  2    Local pair north of dune
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  X
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)  X
gull sp. (Larinae sp.)  40
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)  1
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  2
Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)  1
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  20    9+ migrating
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  12    10 in flock flying over trees seemed to be migrating
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  2
Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)  3
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  2
Brown Creeper (Certhia americana)  1    Dead, very recently, on beach.  Photographed.
Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus)  1
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)  5
Catharus sp. (Catharus sp.)  10    20+ foraging along road and parking lot edges throughout the park
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  1    10:25 a.m. in tree along shoreline; perhaps migrating?
sparrow sp. (Emberizidae sp. (sparrow sp.))  5
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)  2
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  3

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Early (or Late) Siskin

Oct. 10 Email:

Wow, I saw a Pine Siskin on a thistle feeder yesterday over on Carr Road.  Seems early, but maybe it just stayed here from last season!

Greg Swanson

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

More Regarding Brian's Post Below

Since yesterday morning Brian has added information (thrushes, etc.) to his M.L.N.P. post below and Carol Cooper has sent us this additional photo of the rufous-morph Eastern Screech-Owl.

- Ric

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Screech Owl and MLNP Banding

Although we had limited coverage in August, the fall banding program at Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve commenced in earnest on September 1 this year. We have now operated the station for seven consecutive autumns, and this season has been quite productive thus far. A few highlights:

Both Gray-cheeked (above left) and Swainson's Thrushes (above right) have set high seasonal totals with 7 and 35, respectively. Both of these species also arrived early this year (on Sept. 1). Based on station results, the mean passage date for Swainson's is September 17; the average for Gray-cheeked is September 24. Also, in the fall, Swainson's outnumber Gray-cheeked Thrushes by a ratio of 4.4 to 1. We rarely capture Veeries at the station. This likely stems from their earlier departure chronology, a smaller reservoir of birds to the north, and a migratory track that may take many of them toward the Atlantic coast before a long flight to South America (as in Blackpoll and Connecticut Warblers).

Other early arrivals have been Fox Sparrows (one pictured above right, opposite a Hermit Thrush) on Sept. 26 and 28, and a Dark-eyed Junco on Sept. 24.

New daily records have included Hermit Thrush (14 on Oct. 8), Northern Waterthrush (3 on Sept. 8), Palm Warbler (7 on Sept. 25), and Yellow-rumped Warbler (35 on Sept. 25).

Particularly enjoyable was an Eastern Screech-Owl that we captured on October 8 (left photo). Not only was this the first owl that we have captured at the preserve, but it was the first rufous color-morph that I have ever banded in Michigan. By a wide margin, most of the Screech-Owls that I see locally are gray morphs (like the individual on the right - banded at Muskegon State Park). The opposite is true in southern states, but rufous morphs become less prevalent further north and after harsh winters.

As in past years, we will continue banding until either the migration tapers or cold temperatures dominate. Last fall, we were able to run the station to late November.

- Brian Johnson

Monday, October 8, 2012

43 Species at WW Sunday

October 7 Email:

Hi Ric,

I was at Muskegon Wastewater from 10:00-3:00. Despite a cold, windy day (40 degrees) I had a great day of birding. Attached is my list. A real sparrow day!

Horned Grebe 1
Pied-billed Grebe 3
Great Blue Heron 1
Canada Goose 2000 +/-
Snow Goose 1 Blue Phase
Mallard 300-350
Northern Shoveler 799-800
Ruddy Duck 800-850
American Black Duck 11
Green-winged Teal 14
American Wigeon 1
American Coot 65
Red-tailed Hawk 5
Northern Harrier 1 Female/immature
Turkey Vulture 24
Wilson’s Snipe 2
Killdeer 2
Ring-billed Gull 600-700
Herring Gull 200-250
Mourning Dove 3
Rock Pigeon 8
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-headed Woodpecker 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Eastern Phoebe 3
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 27
Horned Lark 6
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
American Robin 1
European Starling 55
American Pipit 26
Northern Cardinal 3
Song Sparrow 18
White-crowned Sparrow 37
White-throated Sparrow 4
Vesper Sparrow 1
Savannah Sparrow 25
Chipping Sparrow 2
Field Sparrow 8
Lapland Longspur 1 1st year female
Red winged Blackbird 29
Eastern Meadowlark 4

- Jim Zervos

Thanks, Jim.  (Highlighting mine.)  - Ric

Sunday, October 7, 2012

First Muskegon Junco?

October 7 Email:

I don't know if anyone is interested or not, but this morning I spotted the first Dark-eyed (Slate Colored) Junco I've seen this season. First sign of winter?  Here are a couple pictures. At the time I took these the bird was in the cracked corn I threw out on the deck this morning, but I don't think they eat that. I think it was getting seeds that fell from a feeder above.

- Ron Buechele

I'm interested; and I think others will be too.  Thanks!  - Ric

Lesser Black-backed Gull

This Lesser Black-backed Gull was along the east shore of the east lagoon at the Wastewater on Sunday, 10/7/12.

Mike Boston

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sandhill Cranes and Lesser Black-backed Gull

October 5 Emails:

To Mich-listers:  At about 11 a.m. today I met Gus and Andy Van Vliet at MWS.  They had picked out a Lesser Black-backed Gull from the gull flock resting on the landfill hillside.  - Bill Sweetman

Sandhill Cranes counted 30 to 40 have been spending their evenings on the west side of the White Lake causeway on a large sandbar easily viewed from the bridge.  We have been watching them for over a week.  Here's a photo. Happy birding,  - John and Betty Blanshine

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Northern Shoveler at WW

October 3 Email:

I was out at Wastewater today.  I had my toddler with me and it was rainy so we didn't do much walking, but we did see a lot of Northern Shovelers.  Here is a picture.  Looking forward to making it to an event in the near future.

Travis Dewys

Monday, October 1, 2012

Gull Hooked with Fishing Lure at WW

October 1 Email:

I took these pictures at the Wastewater last Wednesday. This Ring-billed Gull was on the north wall of the western lagoon. Didn't figure anyone would be able to catch the bird. But then I thought perhaps it might get so weak perhaps someone could rescue it.

Rog Newell
Valrico, FL

Thanks for the photos, Rog.  It's not likely, but I hope someone will be able to help this bird.  - Ric