Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Two Muskegon Christmas Bird Counts


Details regarding our Two Muskegon Christmas Bird Counts (Dec. 20 and Dec. 23) are posted on our homepage.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Three Snowy Owls at Muskegon State Park


 Snowy Owls
These two were on the north breakwall
about 100 meters from the end.

 Snowy Owl
This one was on the north inner arm.
It flew to the south pier for a few minutes,
then took off for parts unknown.

All pictures were taken from the south inner arm.

- Charlie DeWitt

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Peregrine and Goshawk on Saturday


November 29 Email:

Attached are two photos from Saturday at the Wastewater.  One is a Peregrine Falcon with a Mallard it had taken seconds before Marcia and I arrived.  The other is a member of a local falconer club with a Gyrfalcon.  We talked with the man awhile in the grass cells.  He didn't fly the bird because of the wind.
- Phil Willemstein



Wednesday Morning at Black Lake Park


 White-breasted Nuthatch

 Hairy Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Yesterday I spent two hours at Black Lake Park.  It was a beautiful morning to be outside.  Not many birds, but some of them let me take their pictures.

- Charlie DeWitt

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Great Black-backed Gulls at Grand Haven


Great Black-backed Gull

There were three adult Great Black-backed Gulls at Grand Haven State Park this morning.

- Charlie DeWitt

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Long Birding Caravan on Caleb's DNR Trip


Over 45 people in 21 vehicles followed Caleb Putnam on his Michigan DNR Field Trip around the Wastewater lagoons this morning.  It was by far the most vehicles I've ever seen driving together while actively bird-watching.


There were not as many birds, particularly waterbirds, as we had hoped for.  Among the notables were a young Bald Eagle panicking the duck flocks over the east lagoon, two American Black Ducks, a Long-tailed Duck and hundreds of Snow Buntings foraging on and flying around the center dike.


- Ric

Saturday, November 11, 2017

No Fox Sparrow at Hemlock Crossing


Following some recent Ottawa County eBird reports of Fox Sparrow, I drove down to Hemlock Crossing this morning with hopes of seeing one.  No such luck.  I did, however, see Phil Willemstein, Marcia Fellows, and a few dozen birds of ten species at the feeders including five American Tree Sparrows

Hairy Woodpecker pair by Phil Willemstein

Blue Jay
- Ric

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Three November Events


Details regarding our program (Nov. 16) and two field trips (Nov. 17 and 18) are posted on our homepage.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Trumpeter Swans at Black Lake This Morning


Before the rains I enjoyed a walk around the south half of Black Lake Park this morning.  Besides the usual species there were two Trumpeter Swans out on the lake.  One gave the "trombone mouthpiece" call before the pair flew off to the northeast.

- Ric

Friday, October 27, 2017

Good Grebe! Bad Downy!


Two October 27 Emails:

I was at the Wastewater yesterday and came across this and another Eared Grebe.  They were in the southeast corner of the large east lagoon.

- Phil Willemstein


Never assume woodpeckers are on your siding just looking for bugs.  Our Downy Woodpecker knows it's warm in there.  Beyond the blue styrofoam insulation is the fluffy stuff.  That's where it's cozy.  This guy started the hole last year and I boarded it over as a temporary measure.  I have not gotten around to replacing the board.  The cover board fell off and the bugger resumed his project.

- Ken Sapkowski


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Updated Spider Information from Mike


October 25 Email (regarding previous post):

I had looked at a site for a brown recluse and found a picture of one, but it wasn't a website from a university or such.  Somewhere at that site there was an ability for people to put in their own pictures which caused me to mis-identify this spider. After more research I have come to the conclusion that this is a "Carolina wolf spider" the largest spider in Michigan.  I should have put a saddle on it and tried to ride it!  - Mike VanderStelt

Mike's size-reference photo.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Spider and Owl Reports


Two October 24 Emails:

I think this might be a Brown Recluse spider.  Its legs are curled because it is dead. I sprayed it with some automotive brake cleaner, but I got a good picture of it. I didn't want to do it while it was alive because I didn't know how fast they could move, and I didn't want to "p--- it off" with my hand down there. 😲

- Mike VanderStelt


I don't blame you!  Thanks for the photo.  I don't know if it's a recluse or not.  Maybe someone will post a comment or send an email.  - Ric

- - -

Just a quick note and a photo to let you know that the Short-eared Owls are back at the Wastewater facility.

- Jerry Vis


Jerry, that's good to know.  Without Mike Moran anymore, we're not as informed as we used to be about Short-eared's out there.  - Ric

Monday, October 23, 2017

Bahama Mama Made it!


October 22 Email:

Bahama Mama has arrived back at Abaco.

- Carol Cooper


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Upper Macatawa Field Trip Report


Pictures and details of our 43-species field trip to the Upper Macatawa Natural Area this morning are posted on our homepage.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Thursday Morning at Black Lake Park


 White-throated Sparrow




There was a lot of sparrow activity at Black Lake Park this morning.  I saw White-throated, White-crowned, Song and Swamp Sparrow.

- Charlie DeWitt

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Yellow Rumps and Ruby Crowns Today


There were several Yellow-rumped Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets accompanied by Black-capped Chickadees foraging the woods east of my house this morning.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

- Ric

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Finally Some Raptors Migrating!


Today was the third time this season that I'd hoped to see some hawks migrating; the first two times were disappointments.  This morning I watched for 90 minutes from the south wall of the Muskegon Channel east of the USS McLane.

I counted 39 migrating raptors (29 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 1 Cooper's Hawk, 8 Red-tailed Hawks, 1 American Kestrel), 47 migrating Turkey Vultures, plus 13 probably-migrating Canada Geese and ?? migrating Blue Jays (220 total, most probably migrating, but due to conditions only ~75 visible streaming southbound over the channel.

Turkey Vulture

Red-tailed Hawk
- Ric

Juncos Are Back in Town.


 Dark-eyed Junco


I saw 20 Dark-eyed Juncos at Ellis Road today.

- Charlie DeWitt

Monday Morning at Black Lake Park


 Yellow-rumped Warbler

 Northern Flickers

 Song Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

I spent 2 1/2 hours at Black Lake Park and counted 22 species of birds. There were 14 Pied-billed Grebes on the lake.

- Charlie DeWitt

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Pipits and Peregrines


Charlie's Wednesday post motivated me to head to the Wastewater this morning to get a "free" Year Bird.  I saw at least 25 American Pipits including this one on the wall of the aeration cells.  (Year Bird #181, not that anyone is counting.)


Among the other ten bird species at WW today were a singing Eastern Meadowlark east of the headquarters building (seemed pretty late in the season) and well over 1,000 Northern Shovelers in the northeast corner of the West Lagoon.

Later from the south side of the Muskegon Channel I saw "two" Peregrine Falcons fly from beyond the trees on the north side, low over the Channel, and then southbound out of sight.  That seems remarkable whether it was two migrating peregrines within the same hour or whether it was the same local bird seen twice since there are no documented peregrines nesting in Greater Muskegon this year as they used to at the Cobb plant smokestack.

- Ric

Friday at Jeff's Dune


I spent a little over two hours yesterday morning (Oct. 6) on Jeff's Dune (Muskegon State Park 1/4 mile north of the Muskegon Channel) witnessing virtually no raptor migration: just 5 Sharp-shinned Hawks.  (Last Saturday at the same location I saw only one migrating raptor, also a Sharpie.)


This adult Red-tailed Hawk moved around the property during the morning upsetting the crows wherever it went.   I also saw a Merlin perched on a snag north of the dune.

I counted 210 migrating Blue Jays among the 19 total species.  Others were the usual suspects.


This White-tailed Deer hurried into the jack pines below the dune after it and its buddy meandered out of the Snug Harbor woods.

At 8:40 I had to slow my car on Memorial Drive east of Scenic Drive to avoid hitting the "Wild" Turkeys in the road.  At 11:20 on my way home I had to do the same thing at the same location!

- Ric

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Wednesday at The Wastewater


 American Pipit

 Greater Yellowlegs

 American Kestrel

 Red-tailed Hawk

Great Egret

I spent some time at the Muskegon County Wastewater this morning.  I counted 25 species of birds.

- Charlie DeWitt

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Turnstones, Pelican, Lesser Black-backed, Etc.


September 23 Email from Mike Boston:

Ruddy Turnstone by Mike Boston

I saw this Ruddy Turnstone along with two others on the breakwater at Pere Marquette Park this morning as well as close to twenty Sanderlings. I also spotted a Lesser Black-backed Gull on the beach among the many Herring and Ring-billed Gulls

September 22 Email from Ken Sapkowski:

American White Pelican by Brad Heath

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) CONFIRMED
- Reported Sep 22, 2017 10:51 by Brad Heath
- Winnetaska Rd, Muskegon, Michigan


Sunday, September 17, 2017

American Golden Plovers



American Golden Plovers are pretty easy to find at the Wastewater right now. I saw this one on the center dike Sunday afternoon.

- Mike Boston

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Dowitcher This Morning -- Which One?


September 14 Email:

I was at the Wastewater this morning and saw this Dowitcher.  Due to the fog I couldn't get a really good photo of it, probably wishful thinking but I was hoping it was a Long-billed, as I always do. Maybe someone will get out there now that the fog has burned off and confirm Long or Short. 

- Mike Boston


Saturday, September 9, 2017

North of the Muskegon Channel Today


Easterly winds and yesterday's Mich-lister report of thousands of Broad-winged Hawks migrating over the western U.P. had me walking Muskegon State Park this morning.  More than half of the 22 species I found may have been migrating, but only the American Kestrel was a raptor.

Most of the birds were foraging along the curve of the road between the channel parking lot and the ranger station, including Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Magnolia Warbler, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Brown Thrasher, Nashville Warbler, Northern Flicker, plus chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, cardinals, catbirds, downies and jays.

Some of the birds flying past Jeff's Dune may have been migrating (jays, flickers, cormorants, hummingbirds) but the Belted Kingfisher, Great Blue Heron, Sharp-shinned Hawk, and two juvenile Red-tailed Hawks just flew around with no apparent direction.

Young (no red tail) Red-tailed Hawk

- Ric

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Hummingbirds Visiting Often


We had few hummingbirds this summer, but this week they're visiting our feeder every few minutes.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird female this morning.

- Ric

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Snug Harbor to Lost Lake on Saturday


I found twenty bird species while birding the Lost Lake trail north of Snug Harbor this morning.  Every parking space in the fisherman's half of the parking lot was occupied by a vehicle-and-trailor!

Lost Lake

The woods were fairly quiet except after two friendly encounters with family groups along the trail.  As their laughter subsided, bird activity increased both times.

This young Red-shouldered Hawk was perched in the bare tree on the far side of the lake when I arrived (visible in the center of the Lost Lake photo when viewed full size).


Then it dropped into the marsh grasses, grabbed a yellow-green snack and flew back to the left side of the same tree to eat it.


I was glad to see this immature Red-headed Woodpecker at the top of a tree near the parking lot.  They used to be common there, but not anymore.


Other birds included two Sandhill Cranes flying overhead, a Lesser Yellowlegs at Lost Lake, two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds where the trail intersects Ruddiman, two Pileated Woodpeckers, one of the small brown thrushes (Hermit? Swainson's? Gray-cheeked?) in the Hemlock woods, plus vocal Black-capped Chickadees and American Goldfinches along most of the way.  

A very cool, beautiful morning -- it felt like fall.

- Ric