Sunday, December 27, 2015

White Canada Goose

While driving past Mercy Health Lakes Village today, I noticed some Canada Geese in the pond and I saw one white bird among them.  I assumed it was probably a Snow Goose, but on the off chance that it was a Ross's, I decided to take a closer look and I discovered that they were all Canada Geese, but this one was white.

- Mike Boston

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Post-Christmas Ride Around the Wastewater

Our grandson from Ohio enjoyed a ride around the Wastewater properties this morning.  We had good views of Northern Harriers "harrying" the fields, Bald Eagles perched, flying, and harrassing ducks in the rapid-filtration lagoons, and a light-morph Rough-legged Hawk "hovering" into the strong east winds.

There were still at least two dozen Hooded Mergansers in the Clay Pond at the south end of Swanson Road, but again no shrike evident on the property.

- Ric

Friday, December 25, 2015

Eastern Towhee at MLNP on Christmas Eve

December 24 Email:

Lots of birds around the preserve today, including this one.  It was around quite awhile and in and out of the feeders. - Carol Cooper

Male Eastern Towhee

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Great Black-backed Gull on Sunday

Shelley Green, a birder from Manistee, was good enough to send us pictures of a third-year Great Black-backed Gull that she photographed on Sunday (Dec. 20) near the old sand docks at the west end of Muskegon Lake.  She wondered if we could add it to our Christmas Bird Count list.  

Yes, Shelley, we will add it as a "CW" (Count Week) bird which Audubon allows for species not seen on the day of the count but 3-days before or after count day (Dec. 19).  Thanks!  - Ric

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

2,170 Birds in WW CBC Sector Today

Our 36-mile drive-and-stop through the north-northeast sector of the Muskegon County Wastewater Christmas Bird Count circle this morning netted Jim Zervos and me 2,172 birds of 27 species.

Notable were 800 European Starlings (most in one flock near a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation), 600 Canada Geese, 420 Mallards and 110 American Crows (most in the vicinity of a fresh deer carcas).

The only surprising species was not in our sector: a Common Raven on the field west of Swanson north of the East Lagoon.

- Ric Pedler

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Muskegon's Plover Is Now "Bahama Mama"

December 15 Email:

I just got word that the female Piping Plover that I discovered here in Muskegon was sighted in the Bahamas at Abaco on Long Beach on Dec. 1.  She has been named "Bahama Mama".

- Carol Cooper

Bahama Mama (or Papa?) with chick at Muskegon State Park June 21, 2015

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Hooded Mergies at the Wastewater Saturday

Over the course of two hours this morning I drove around the Wastewater properties hoping for some winter birds.  

Of note were large numbers of Hooded Mergansers in the Clay Pond at the south end of Swanson.  I gave eBird the 24 I could positively I.D., but distance, lighting and posture prevented positive I.D. of the others which certainly could also have been Hoodies in which case perhaps 60 !

Other waterbirds included thousands of Canada Geese and hundreds of ducks including Mallard, Ruddy Duck, Bufflehead, Northern Shoveler and Gadwall

Seventeen species for the morning; no Northern Shrike.  :-(

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Eared Grebe Still at W.W. December 9

On Wednesday Bonnie Kott and Dave Herdegen birded the Wastewater and reported an Eared Grebe (presumably the same bird as posted below), 8 Snow Geese, an American Kestrel, 2 Northern Harriers, a Red-tailed Hawk,  2 Northern Pintails, plus Mallards, American Black Ducks, Ruddy Ducks, Buffleheads, Northern Shovelers and Ring-necked Ducks.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Eared Grebe at WW Wednesday & Thursday

December 3 Email:

There was an Eared Grebe present in the southern section of the west lagoon on Wednesday.  Oddly late for this species, no?  - Casey Irwin

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Christmas Bird Counts December 16 and 19

Anyone interested in participating in our club's two Christmas Bird Counts this month, click here for details.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Golden-Crowned Kinglets

November 30 Email:

Hey Ric,
I know Golden-crowned Kinglets are fairly common, but I got my first look at a pair today just outside my front door north of Ravenna.
- Casey Irwin

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Franklin's Gull at Holland on Thursday

Franklin's Gull

There has been a Franklin's Gull at Holland State Park for about a week.  I went down today and found it sitting on the beach with 20 Ring-billed Gulls.

- Charlie DeWitt

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Late Leopard Frog Tuesday

This Leopard Frog was around my yard all summer.  I thought he was gone as I had not seen him in awhile.  Today while doing yard work I found him in a bucket.  I took him over to the preserve and released him near the creek.  - Carol Cooper

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Red Phalarope Saturday and Sunday at WW

Thanks to Casey Irwin for scooting over to the Wastewater Sunday and taking this photo after reading the Mich-lister's report of the Red Phalarope in the northwest corner of the East Lagoon.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Gulls at Grand Haven Saturday

I went to the south pier at Grand Haven today looking for "storm birds".  No Franklin's Gull, but I did find these.

- Charlie DeWitt

 Ring-billed Gull

 Glaucous Gull

 Great Black-backed Gull

 Great Black-backed Gull

Great Black-backed Gull

Merlin and Others at the Wastewater Saturday

Glowering at me to keep my distance, this Merlin spent fifteen minutes devouring a small bird in the "kingbird tree" (Laketon at Seba) this morning.

Among the other 15 bird species were a Northern Harrier, 2 Red-tailed Hawks, dozens of Horned Larks and over 800 Canada Geese.  Lots of hunters' trucks on the Wastewater properties this morning.  A birding group from Oakland Audubon was scoping larks in the rapid filtration lagoons when I left.

- Ric

Nature's Power at Grand Haven

Carol Cooper sends this photo taken Thursday on the north side of the Grand Haven pier.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tree Sparrows at the Nature Preserve

I counted 18 bird species this morning at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve, none out of the ordinary.  Two Pied-billed Grebes swam in the bayou west of the preserve, many male Red-winged Blackbirds were singing like springtime, a male Belted Kingfisher flew over, and three of eight American Tree Sparrows stuck around long enough for photographs.

- Ric

Monday, November 9, 2015

Purple Finches and Winking Woodpecker

This male Purple Finch spent much of today in our yard, but little time on the feeders.  Every squirrel, jay, car or shadow scared him back to the trees.  Late this afternoon a second male, just as fidgety, joined him.

While photographing the finch, I snapped this male Hairy Woodpecker who has been in our yard a lot lately.  When I first saw this image, I feared the bird had lost its eye.  But on closer inspection, it's just his eyelid (nictitating membrane) whisking across.  Both of his eyes are fine.

- Ric

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Cranes, Coyote and Harrier on Thursday

November 7 Email:

On Thursday Nov. 5, 2015 while doing a shorebird survey with Brian Johnson at the Muskegon County Wastewater System, we saw this group of 18 Sandhill Cranes, a coyote and a Northern Harrier. - Carol Cooper

Friday, November 6, 2015

Red Phalarope at the Wastewater Today

I found this Red Phalarope in the southeast corner of the west lagoon today.

- Charlie DeWitt

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Grebe and Sandpiper at WW Wednesday

Casey Irwin photographed this grebe and sandpiper at the Wastewater yesterday, Nov. 4, and wondered about identification.  I told him I thought Horned and Pectoral.
Comments welcome.

- Ric

Northern Lights on November 3

November 4 Email:

Ric, I haven't been doing any birding and wasn't sure if you would want these pictures of the Northern Lights on the Recent Sightings page or not.  They were taken last night at Little Point Sauble.  - Don Neumann

Don, yes I want them!  They're recent, they're sightings, they're nature, and they're beautiful!  - Ric

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

October Lake Watch Results

This autumn, as in past years, I have been counting birds migrating over Lake Michigan from shoreline overlooks at Hoffmaster State Park and Lake Harbor Park.

September, unusually warm, had been very slow for waterfowl, but numbers quickly increased when the temperatures cooled at the end of the month.

In October, I accrued 17.5 hours, and recorded the following 43 species (3184 individual birds):

Canada Goose - 24
Wood Duck - 2
Gadwall - 298 (60 on Oct. 12)
American Wigeon - 70
American Black Duck - 4
Mallard - 152
Blue-winged Teal - 64
Northern Shoveler - 7
Northern Pintail - 4
Green-winged Teal - 16
Canvasback - 26
Redhead - 48
Greater Scaup - 6
Lesser Scaup - 703 (243 on Oct. 7)
Surf Scoter - 18 (first on Oct. 2)
White-winged Scoter - 6 (first on Oct. 15)
Black Scoter - 4 (Oct. 14)
Long-tailed Duck - 427 (first on Oct. 9)
Bufflehead - 4
Common Goldeneye - 1
Common Merganser - 12
Red-breasted Merganser - 104 (first on Oct.7)
Red-throated Loon - 6
Common Loon - 45 (29 on Oct. 30)
Horned Grebe - 26
Double-crested Cormorant - 275
Bald Eagle - 1
Northern Harrier - 1
Red-tailed Hawk - 1
Merlin - 1
Sanderling - 2
American Woodcock - 1
Bonaparte's Gull - 626 (218 on Oct. 14)
Ring-billed Gull - 106
Herring Gull - 23
Glaucous Gull - 1 (Oct. 22)
Great Black-backed Gull - 1 (Oct. 23)
Caspian Tern - 1 (Oct. 15)
Common Tern - 2
American Crow - 46
Horned Lark - 3
American Pipit - 8
Snow Bunting - 8 (first on Oct. 23)

The biggest surprise was an American Woodcock flying east low over Lake Michigan to the dunes at 10:21 a.m. on October 23.  Earlier that morning, an adult male Northern Harrier also flew east over the lake while closely pursued for a full minute by an immature Herring Gull.

Many passerines, only a few of which I could identify to species, also flew east against headwinds to the dunes on various days.  Most successfully navigated the gull gauntlet; some did not.

I occasionally see bats doing the same.  A Red Bat on Oct. 8 was the last.

- Brian Johnson

Young Woodpecker

Casey Irwin sends this photo of a first-year Red-headed Woodpecker in the woods near his house.  Click to enlarge and notice the tiny dab of red just beginning to molt in on the top if its head.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Sunday at the Muskegon County Wastewater

 American Pipit
Photo by Carol DeWitt

 Northern Shoveler
Photo by Carol DeWitt

 American Goldfinches

 Savannah Sparrow

 American Tree Sparrow

Northern Harrier

It was a nice day at the Wastewater.  Nothing unusual, although this is the first time for the American Tree Sparrow for me this fall.  Waited for the Short-eared Owl until 6:00 p.m. but no luck.

- Charlie DeWitt

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Harlequin Duck Wednesday at White Lake

October 28 Email sent at 4:00 p.m.:

Harlequin duck in White Lake Channel just now. - David Holmberg

Monday, October 26, 2015

Rusty Blackbird at the Wastewater Monday

Rusty Blackbird by the Clay Ponds on Swanson Road

- Charlie DeWitt

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Dark-billed Swans and Snow Goose at WW

October 25 Email:

I spotted either a pair of tundra or trumpeter swans in the west
lagoon just west of the central dike road along with a snow goose just
east of the central dike road with a group of Canada geese.

- Casey Irwin

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Merlin at M.S.P. and Creeper at Rosy Mound

Jeff Johnson and I looked for migrating hawks again Friday morning at Muskegon State Park.  We watched a few migrating (5 Sharp-shinneds, 1 Cooper's) and observed a few locals (2 Bald Eagles, 2 Red-tailed Hawks), but not as many as we had hoped considering the beautiful sky and east winds.

Once again the Merlin greeted me on my drive southward toward the Channel; I've seen this bird (assuming it's the same one) more times than not heading to Jeff's Dune this fall.

Meanwhile Casey Irwin was photographing this Brown Creeper on Friday down at Rosy Mound Natural Area south of Grand Haven.

- Ric

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Red-breasted Nuthatch at Wastewater

Casey Irwin photographed this Red-breasted Nuthatch at the Wastewater "near the Karner Blue butterfly area".  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Quality Trumps Quantity Hawkwatching Today

Jeff Johnson and I spent a few hours hawkwatching this morning north of the Muskegon Channel at Muskegon State Park.  The raptor quantity was low (2 Bald Eagles, 2 Northern Harriers, 6 Sharp-shinned Hawks and 1 Red-tailed Hawk) but the quality shot up when a Golden Eagle flew by!


It was peacefully escorted by the Snug Harbor Bald Eagles.  It flew south to the channel, then returned and flew north to the woodline.  One of the Bald Eagles dove at it, the Golden dropped into the woods, and we never saw it again.

Non-raptors included turkeys (six foraging around the trail post on the dune before we displaced them), flickers, jays, crows, chickadees, Golden-crowned Kinglets, bluebirds, juncos and goldfinches.

- Ric

Roger's Muskegon October Bird Photos

October 19 Email:

Having returned to Florida, Roger Newell emails regarding photos taken the last couple of weeks in the West Michigan area:

American Pipit at Muskegon Wastewater
Long-tailed Duck at Pere Marquette breakwater
Horned Grebes at Muskegon Wastewater (Eared's! -- see Comments)
Red-tailed Hawk at Muskegon Wastewater - 2 pix
Peregrine Falcon at Muskegon Wastewater
White-rumped Sandpipers at Muskegon Wastewater
White-throated Sparrow at north end of Hilton Park Road, Muskegon
Northern Harrier at Muskegon Wastewater
Merlin near south breakwater of Pere Marquette River, Ludington.
White-rumped Sandpipers at south breakwater of Pere Marquette River, Ludington
Merlin with captured prey at south breakwater of Pere Marquette River, Ludington

I got 5 Life Birds (mostly thanks to Brian Johnson's banding work).

You may use these pictures if you wish.  Thanks again for all the assistance.

Rog Newell
Valrico, FL