Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tundra Swans at Wastewater

March 31 Email:

Tundra Swans at the Wastewater today. - Dan Lockard

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Woodcocks Back at Blueberry Patch

American Woodcock returned last Thursday or Friday evening to the field by the blueberry patch near my house.  There were two or three peenting and flying tonight when Mike Boston came over.  Conditions were not good for photography, but Mike was able to get this shot before dark.

- Ric

Muskegon Channel Waterbirds Monday

March 23 Email:

I saw this Horned Grebe in the Muskegon Channel at the Silversides parking lot and one Long-tailed Duck and two pairs of White-winged Scoters.  - Carol Cooper

Monday, March 23, 2015

Roughleg and Bluebird at Wastewater Monday

March 23 Email:

Good morning.  Here are a couple shots from our trip to the Wastewater. 
- Terra Berry

Light-morph Rough-legged Hawk

Male Eastern Bluebird

Snow Owl Sunday

March 22 Email:

Snowy owl at the Wastewater today.  - Dan Lockard

I hope you didn't approach it.  - Ric

Sunday, March 22, 2015

15 People and 44 Bird Species Yesterday

See a brief report plus photos on our homepage from yesterday's Ottawa County field trip.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Killdeer and Ring-necked Duck at Wastewater

 I counted 5 Killdeer at the Wastewater today.

I also found this female Ring-necked Duck.

- Charlie DeWitt

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Hemlock Crossing This Morning

I birded Ottawa County's Hemlock Crossing Park from 9:00-10:00 this morning, then spent the next hour in the Nature Education Center watching Curtis Dykstra run his final Coffee with the Birds program of the season.

I recorded 20 bird species including Pileated Woodpecker, Pine Siskin and my first-for-this-year Red-winged Blackbird. Unfortunately yesterday's Rusty Blackbird did not make an appearance today.  This Gray Squirrel has figured how to eat from the park's "squirrel-proof" feeder.

Our field trip next week will conclude at Hemlock Crossing. Click here for further details.

- Ric

Friday, March 13, 2015

Red-tailed Hawk and Sandhill Crane at WW

March 12 Email:

Today from the Wastewater a Red-tailed Hawk eating and a Sandhill Crane.  - Dan Lockard

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Eagle and Gulls

 Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle and Herring Gull

This Bald Eagle flew over the Muskegon Channel and really had the gulls upset.  They were diving and calling at the eagle.  This Herring Gull looks like it wanted to land on the eagle's wing. 

- Charlie DeWitt 

Bird Friends and Enemies

Terra Berry sends these photos from the weekend of ducks in the Muskegon Channel and a Sharp-shinned Hawk taking a Downy Woodpecker in her yard. 

 Long-tailed Ducks

 Red-breasted Merganser

White-winged Scoter Pair


Meanwhile Carol Cooper reports that this Wood Duck continues to hang around with the Mallards in Bear Lake Channel, sometimes friends, sometimes enemies:

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Muskegon Channel Ducks 2013-2015

As we can too vividly recall, the winter of 2013-14 was viciously cold.  Temperatures for December, January, and February averaged 26°, 20°, and 18° respectively.  Those were 4°, 5°, and 9° below their corresponding monthly normals. Consequently, all five Great Lakes experienced an early and ultimately epic freeze.  By late January, ice had extended several miles from shore, and peak extent occurred on March 6, when 92% of the Great Lakes was covered by ice.

With so much water frozen or too deep for effective foraging, ducks congregated in the few remaining pockets in astounding numbers.  Totals at the Muskegon Lake Channel peaked in late January.  My count from January 29, 2014, yielded 2258 Greater Scaup, 463 White-winged Scoter, 3137 Long-tailed Ducks, and 912 Common Goldeneye.  Other ducks included smaller numbers of Canvasback, Redhead, Surf Scoter, Common Merganser, and Red-breasted Merganser.  Thereafter, emigration and attrition drastically reduced the local population. I noted 106 dead ducks in the channel on March 11.

This winter, December was slightly warmer than normal and January was somewhat colder. However, February was downright frigid, and the monthly average of 13° was far colder than even last year.  Combined with low water temperatures at the onset of winter, the bitter conditions again ushered near record ice coverage.

Duck numbers have recently peaked at Muskegon Lake Channel, and totals today included 584 Greater Scaup, 84 White-winged Scoter, 46 Long-tailed Duck. and 314 Common Goldeneye. Hundreds of Long-tailed Ducks have also been flying far offshore over the ice pack, but the extraordinary waterfowl densities of 2014 will not be repeated this year.  This may be due to more open water in the Great Lakes this year, although a peak ice cover of 89% (on February 28) does not leave a lot of suitable habitat.  Possibly, local winter duck populations have not yet recovered from devastating losses sustained last year.

Other birds today included the Red-throated Loon above.  Sadly, a close look at the Red-breasted Merganser photo below shows that the bird is hopelessly mired in fishing line.  I also noticed this among a few ducks last winter, and I strongly suspect that the number of birds that starve this way is significant.

- Brian Johnson

Monday, March 9, 2015

Hoary Redpoll at the Wastewater

I saw this Hoary Redpoll among some Common Redpolls along the north shore of the west lagoon at the Wastewater on Sunday, 3/8/15.

- Mike Boston

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Red-throated Loon at Muskegon Channel

"Red" was the theme of the day today as I saw my FOY Red-headed Woodpecker, Red-shouldered Hawk, and this Red-throated Loon which flew over the Muskegon Channel this afternoon, 3/7/15.

- Mike Boston

Friday, March 6, 2015

Surf Scoter Still at White Lake Channel

Above is a picture of the Surf Scoter that Jim Zervos
reported on March 5.

Greater Scaup
- Charlie DeWitt

Surf Scoter in White Lake Channel Thursday

March 5 Email:


I am at the north side of the White Lake channel.  Among the numerous usual ducks is a single male Surf Scoter in breeding plumage.

Thursday, March 5, 1:41 PM

Jim Zervos
Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Good Ducks and Hawk on Monday

 Long-tailed Duck

 Common Eider, Black Scoter and White-winged Scoter

 Red-breasted Merganser

Red-shouldered Hawk

I spent some time at the Muskegon Channel Monday morning.  I wanted to get a better picture of the Black Scoter.  I am happy with the one above.

When I got home, I was standing by my truck trying to take pictures of the Dark-eyed Juncos by my feeder when this Red-shouldered Hawk landed in the tree above me.

- Charlie DeWitt

Three Channel Photos from Monday

March 2 Email:

It was a lovely day at the Muskegon Channel this afternoon. Even the ordinary Mallards looked stunning in the sunshine.  I attached a Scaup.  I don't know whether it's a greater or lesser.  I don't know how to tell the difference!  I have a question about the last two ducks.  Are they both Common Goldeneye?  I've never seen a female one without the little orangeish tip on the end of the bill.  Thanks!

- Roxanne Eacker

Thanks, Roxanne.  It looks like a Greater Scaup (rounded top of head, not pointed) and two female Common Goldeneyes to me.  I don't know if the orangish-bill tip indicates anything or not.  Check the comments later to see if someone lets us know.  - Ric

Monday, March 2, 2015

Three Channel Photos from Sunday

March 1 Email:

Sightings today from the Muskegon Channel:  White-winged Scoter, Pileated Woodpecker and Redhead.

- Dan Lockard