Saturday, August 31, 2013

Friday Wastewater Shorebirds

August 30 Email:

Did a quick shorebird count this morning. Nice weather and good numbers 
but not a lot of variety.

Yellowlegs sp. 116
Spotted sandpiper 14
Least sandpiper 10
Semipalmated sandpiper 45
Baird's sandpiper 5
Pectoral sandpiper 6
Stilt sandpiper 1
Short-billed dowitcher 2
Killdeer 28
Semipalmated plover 11

Josh Kamp

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Birds, Bees. Bugs, Etc.

As summer winds down, I get a little more time to take pictures. Had 6 Common Nighthawks flying over collecting bugs Monday evening.

Green Heron searching the pond for a meal.

Bees collecting pollen.

Praying Mantis hanging upside down waiting for a meal.

Walking Stick hanging out.

A Spider getting the best of a Grasshopper and a Bull Frog avoiding the Green Heron.

All shots taken around my ice cream shop during the past week.

- Don Neumann

Monday, August 26, 2013

Thanks and a Picture

Roxanne Eacker emails with photos (one below of Wilson's Phalarope near Lesser Yellowlegs, I believe) to all who were on the August club field trip (Aug. 22 post).

- Ric


Hi Ric,

I haven't had computer access until now, so I'm late in getting these to you.  These were taken on the August 17th trip to the Wastewater.  I have a couple of the Dickcissel, but they aren't really in focus.

I had a really great time and wanted to pass along my thanks to everyone there, especially Carol who graciously let me ride with her.  Everyone was really nice and so helpful.  I hope to see everyone again when my schedule permits. That was indeed a rare treat for me.

Roxanne Eacker

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Shorebirds and Others at Wastewater Saturday

Of the three hours I spent on the Wastewater properties Saturday morning, most time was spent at the southeast corner of the East Lagoon.  Lighting was perfect, birds were close, and it was like a shorebird laboratory. (eBird numbers posted below are not a complete count of all individuals.)

These pictures of both Yellowlegs species and Solitary Sandpiper are just for-the-record digiscopes with a little grab-and-shoot camera handheld against the eyepiece of my old spotting scope.  If any of the photographers who happened by yesterday will send me some better shots, I'll post them here as well.  Thanks!

Lesser Yellowlegs were the birds-of-the-day at all locations around the lagoons.  In this corner were nine very coooperative Stilt Sandpipers (best views I've ever had of that species), a Solitary Sandpiper, a Greater Yellowlegs foraging next to Lessers for size comparisons, and occasional visits by the 23 Red-necked Phalaropes that were often swimming somewhere on the lagoon when not being panicked occasionally by Turkey Vulture fly-overs.

Wilson's Phalarope, Bonaparte's Gull (but no Little Gull), Pied-billed Grebe (but no Eared Grebe) and Northern Harrier also showed up today.

Other people stopped by the SE corner occasionally including Connie Peoples, Pat Bazany, Tom Beete and his wife, Dan and Rachel Whomever (young birders) and Jim Ponshair (the ultimate old birder).  Thanks to Tom in particular for his expertise and scope sightings of distant species along the south and east edges of the lagoon.  I didn't see Charlie, but be sure to read his post below.

Meanwhile Dan Lockard was at the Wastewater Friday and Saturday and sent several pictures including these of Sanderlings, Eared Grebe and two Great Egrets.

Report to eBird:
Muskegon Wastewater System, Muskegon, US-MI
Aug 24, 2013 8:45 AM - 11:45 AM
Protocol: Traveling
3.0 mile(s)

23 species (+2 other taxa)

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  15
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  1
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)  3
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  1
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  24
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)  1    brown
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  3
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)  24
Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria)  2
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)  2
Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)  36
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)  6
Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)  2
Stilt Sandpiper (Calidris himantopus)  9
Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus/scolopaceus)  1
Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor)  1  
Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)  23    
Bonaparte's Gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia)  3
gull sp. (Larinae sp.)  100
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  6
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  4
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  100
Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus)
Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna)  1

Thanks to Phil Chu for emailing Aug. 27 to correct the identifications of some of the birds pictured above.  In my original post I had indicated a Stilt Sandpiper in one of the digiscoped photos and Semipalmated Sandpipers in Dan Lockard's photos.  - Ric

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Muskegon County Wastewater Aug. 24, 2013

Carol and I spent some time at Muskegon County Wastewater today.  We found a nice flock of Red-necked Phalaropes (top picture) and a few Blue-winged Teal. 

Charlie DeWitt

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Catching Up on Recent Sightings

After a few weeks grandparenting from Muskegon to Ohio to California and back, I'm able to attend to this page again.

On Saturday Aug. 17 Feller and Charlie DeWitt led a group of 16 people on the Wastewater properties seeing very good numbers of shorebirds plus a few other species including several Dickcissels.

On Tuesday Aug. 20 Joseph Lautenbach and Kevin Vande Vusse saw a juvenile Little Gull (photos below) at the Wastewater mixed in with a group of Bonaparte's Gulls in the easternmost (dry) churning lagoon, Semipalmated, Baird's, Stilt, Upland and Pectoral Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plover, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Short-billed Dowitchers, and Eared Grebe, Wilson's and Red-necked Phalaropes (southeast corner of East Lagoon) and three Orchard Orioles along the east dike in the ditch.

At Lane's Landing a flock of more than 40 Bobolink flew over them, they kicked up a Green Heron and an American Bittern on the east side of the marsh, and had 5 Wilson's Snipe and a lone Solitary Sandpiper fly over.

Today Chip Francke spent a couple hours at the Wastewater reporting "a decent shorebird day" with the majority concentrated in the southeast corner of the East Lagoon: Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs (abundant), Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper (13), Short-billed Dowitcher, Wilson's Phalarope (4) and Red-necked Phalarope (19), plus at least one Eared Grebe in the West Lagoon.

- Ric

Sunday, August 4, 2013

MWS Shorebirds: August Counts & Spring Totals

On August 4, I conducted the third session of the fall Shorebird Survey at the Muskegon Wastewater System. These are scheduled once about every 10 days, and we normally complete 8 each spring and 13 each fall since 2005. Generally, it takes me less than three hours to finish each survey, and that includes time counting other birds and photographing cooperative subjects. However, due to higher numbers and diversity, surveys in August take longer.

Today's survey was all business, yet it still cost me four hours. While my tally of 13 species (two less than last week) was a good figure, it was the number of shorebirds that proved outstanding. My final count was 717 birds - easily surpassing the previous record of 507 counted by Lena Usyk and me on 9/7/09.

In particular, three species were remarkably numerous. The total of 96 Lesser Yellowlegs set a new high for the Shorebird Survey, although significantly higher counts have been made by others at the Wastewater. More impressive were the 256 Least Sandpipers found today. This is almost certainly the highest actual count from this location. Also outstanding, 133 Pectoral Sandpipers also likely the highest actual count from the Muskegon Wastewater.

The spring 2013 set of Wastewater Shorebird Surveys generated 611 birds of 16 species. This compares favorably to the previous means of 15.9 species and 574 individuals. Seasonal high spring counts were obtained for Least Sandpiper and Ruddy Turnstone. Spotted Sandpiper (73 on May 18) and Least Sandpiper (51 on May 18) established new daily high counts during the spring survey; Upland Sandpiper tied the previous best (10 on May 15); and Ruddy Turnstone (31 on May 28) set a new record for both spring and fall.

Here are the spring 2013 totals (with averages from 2005 - 2012):

Black-bellied Plover - 5 (2)
Semipalmated Plover - 6 (7.8)
Killdeer - 84 (145.1)
Spotted Sandpiper - 200 (119.9)
Greater Yellowlegs - 5 (3.5)
Willet - 1 on June 2 (3.5)
Lesser Yellowlegs - 24 (37.9)
Upland Sandpiper - 26 (16.5)
Ruddy Turnstone - 34 (2.4)
Sanderling - 2 (1)
Semipalmated Sandpiper - 89 (83.6)
Least Sandpiper - 65 (27.1)
White-rumped Sandpiper - 3 (13.6)
Pectoral Sandpiper - 1 on April 6 (9.8)
Dunlin - 65 (87.8)
Wilson's Phalarope - 1 on May 28 (3.4)

- Brian Johnson

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August 1 Email:

Hi Ric,

My friend Barbara and I met you around noon on Saturday at Muskegon Wastewater.  She was the one taking the close-up shots of the Red-necked Phalaropes.  She's now gone back to San Diego, but she created two full pages of photos.

Part 1 is individual birds -

Part 2 is group shots (2-4) -

Are they still out there?

Rosemary Anderson

Rosemary, thanks for the email and please thank Barbara for the photos.  I suspect the phalaropes are no longer there but have not heard either way.  If I do, I'll post it here.  - Ric