Thursday, September 29, 2016

Banding Birds at the Nature Preserve

Weather was not the best this morning at Brian Johnson's bird-banding demonstration at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve for residents of Lake Woods Nursing Home and The Cove Assisted Living Facility.  Unseasonably cool temperatures and moderate northeast winds kept the audience bundled and the number of netted birds low.

Nevertheless, Brian was able to capture and process three birds before the group had to leave.  The Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Brian's first this year, was a favorite with the residents and seemed to relax as he showed it around before its release.

The Gray Catbird chattered throughout its processing and screamed a few angry words as it flew out of the pavilion and back to the woods.

A very late Northern Waterthrush which Brian had banded earlier this week dropped into a net again this morning.  Brian determined that the bird's physical condition was still excellent but questioned its mental ability for sticking around Muskegon until late September.

During the program Brian mentioned that more than a quarter of a million migrating birds flew over Muskegon County last night recorded by weather radar!

(Brian will be banding birds most weekday mornings through October at the pavilion in the middle of the preserve.  The public is welcome.)

- Ric

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Nine American Kestrels at the Wastewater

 American Kestrel

 Same bird as above.  I found this one on the north side.

 I normally would not include pictures of this poor quality
but it was fun to watch the kestrel eat a bug while on the wing.
This was over the rapid infiltration cells.

 In this picture you can see a leg from the bug dropping to
the ground.

Here again the picture is not real good.  If you look closely,
you can see what appears to be a tether hanging from its leg.
This kestrel was at Swanson and White Roads.

- Charlie DeWitt

Saturday Morning on Jeff's Dune

Yesterday morning I counted migrating birds on Jeff's Dune (Muskegon State Park north of the Channel) from 9:00-11:00, then stayed up there until almost noon chatting with a geo-caching guy and his dog Bennett.  Even without binoculars, we saw more migrating hawks that hour than the previous two (perhaps because the east wind picked up and brought the birds lower?).

I counted 180 migrating Blue Jays the first hour (only a few after that) with the largest flock of 40+ birds at 9:40.  Three Broad-winged Hawks popped out of the trees at 9:45.  The Merlin and a Cooper's Hawk perched and hunted the area again this morning.  Five Red-tailed Hawks (a family?) soared together up by Snug Harbor throughout the morning (as did an adult Bald Eagle).

Migrating raptors during the first two hours included 7 brown-plumaged Northern Harriers ...

48 Sharp-shinned Hawks ...

10 Broad-winged Hawks ...

1 immature Red-tailed Hawk ...

17 American Kestrels, 2 non-adult Bald Eagles, and four unidentifiables.

Northern Flickers again called and flew around the area but not so many as last week.  There were a few V's of Canada Geese around, a male Wood Duck flew by, and an immature Red-headed Woodpecker rested for a few minutes on a snag west of the dune.

- Ric

Monday, September 19, 2016

Young Grosbeak Returns

Presumably the same young male Rose-breasted Grosbeak that landed on our feeder yesterday but didn't stick around long enough for pictures returned today and stayed long enough for a blurry shot through our kitchen window.

- Ric

Good "Black" Birds and Others on Saturday

September 18 Email from Lizzy Kibbey:

Good afternoon Ric!

Came to report to you of all the great things we found at the Muskegon Wastewater yesterday.  I will include some pics too!

First off, if you haven't already, you should plan on taking a trip to Coopersville and snag yourself that Black-necked Stilt at the Coopersville Wastewater Treatment Plant.  It's a female and it's supposed to be in the northwestern cell but has been known to be in the southern cells too. 
Mr. Fyfe, my brother and I saw her yesterday, but then got rained on. 

My Muskegon County Wastewater species list with highlights in bold:

Canada Goose - 300​
Wood Duck - 6
American Wigeon - 7
American Black Duck - 10
Mallard - 175
Blue-winged Teal - 2
Northern Shoveler - 250
Green-winged Teal - 4
Redhead - 15
Ring-necked Duck - 1
Bufflehead - 10 (all female group in E. Lagoon; among many hundred Ruddy Ducks and Shovelers)
Hooded Merganser - 9
Common Merganser - 3
Ruddy Duck - 1,200
Wild Turkey - 30
Eared Grebe - 2 (First of the year for me!)
Great Blue Heron - 3
Great Egret - 1 
Turkey Vulture - 50
Northern Harrier - 10 (Multiples everywhere. Most were juvs. Tried getting good photos but failed due to their excessive need to dip below the cornstalks.)
Bald Eagle - 2 (Two juvs.)
Red-tailed Hawk - 4
American Coot - 4
Sandhill Crane - 3
Black-bellied Plover - 2 (Center Dike. Flew off the edge and we got out and snuck up really close till we were completely parallel to where they were standing on the rocky coast below.  Got good pics, and they didn't even seem bothered by our presence after that.)

Killdeer - 10
Stilt Sandpiper - 1
Sanderling - 9
Baird's Sandpiper - 5 (All together in same cell)
Least Sandpiper - 10
Pectoral Sandpiper - 2
Semipalmated Sandpiper - 2
Solitary Sandpiper - 5
Greater Yellowlegs - 1
Lesser Yellowlegs - 4
Bonaparte's Gull - 1
Ring-billed Gull - 1,200
Herring Gull - 70
Rock Dove - 24
Mourning Dove - 9
Belted Kingfisher - 4
American Kestrel - 13
Eastern Phoebe - 1
Blue Jay - 8
American Crow - 42
European Starling - 700
American Pipit - 9
Palm Warbler - 2
Chipping Sparrow - 1
Savannah Sparrow - 10
Song Sparrow - 2
Eastern Meadowlark - 1 (Surprised us by flying out of some tall grass)
Brown-headed Cowbird - 1
American Goldfinch - 2
Mute Swan - 2
Horned Lark - 18

Total: 54 Species

- Lizzy Kibbey (Duck Wizard)

Friday, September 16, 2016

Thursday Morning on Jeff's Dune

Yesterday I spent a few hours hawkwatching up on Jeff's Dune (Muskegon State Park north of the Muskegon Channel).  As usual, lots of bird activity, kind of like watching a show through binoculars and spotting scope, with some of the action up close and personal too.

"Here's looking at you!"

I've always liked the "false face" on the side of the head of an American Kestrel.  "No sense attacking me because I 'see you' already".  This one's really looking west and may have been a local bird.  Three others flew by heading south.

Other migrants included a brown Northern Harrier, three Sharp-shinned Hawks, four Broad-winged Hawks, a (presumably) Ruby-throated Hummingbird, a few Monarch butterflies, and perhaps some of the many Northern Flickers or Blue Jays (but no groups of jays heading south).

Sharp-shinned Hawk, already ate breakfast.

Broad-winged Hawk

Flickers plentiful all morning, two here in the same tree.

Raptors that did not appear to be migrating included a Cooper's Hawk (harrassed by Blue Jays), another accipiter that chased some jays and was screamed at by a female Pileated Woodpecker), a Red-tailed Hawk, an immature Bald Eagle and a Merlin which flew around during the morning and perched on the same distant snag three different times.


Memorable trivia included kestrels carrying prey (one a small body still trailing dune grass, one perhaps a grasshopper that the falcon stopped to eat before continuing south over the channel), jays chasing raptors around the trees and sometimes being chased in return, a jay screaming like a Red-shouldered Hawk as it flew here and there, a pair of very vocal Pileated Woodpeckers, and the flickers flying back and forth all morning.  Nineteen bird species today.

But who's counting?  For a normal person, ho-hum.  For a bird-brain, a very nice show.

- Ric

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Terns at Grand Haven North Pier

Common Tern (foreground) and Forster's Tern

There was a mixed flock of terns on the Grand Haven north pier today, about 12 in all.

- Charlie DeWitt

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Does Anyone Know This Moth?

Ken Sapkowski writes: "Check out this moth photo I took this weekend.  Anyone know the name of it?"