To see all the details in some of the pictures, right-click them. From the mini-list choose "Open link in new window". In that window click the picture for actual size, often too big to fit your monitor. Scroll around to appreciate all the details. Then click again to see the entire picture.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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 Parkthis 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.
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!
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.
Carol and I took a walk on the Grand Haven north pier to watch the sun set and found this Red Knot at the very end of the pier. The only camera I had was my cell phone. The bird was within four feet of me.
I tagged around the Wastewater properties with the Grand Rapids Audubon field trip yesterday morning until they headed west. The previously-reported Hudsonian Godwit was in the center aeration lagoon early, but not when we left.
We counted 42 kinds of birds including 14 shorebird species:
Other birds of note included a Merlin eating prey on the appetizing dry sludge of a rapid-filtration cell, a young Red-headed Woodpecker, several Bonaparte's Gulls in the West Lagoon, and hordes of Tree Swallows catching midges over the center dike.
I saw this bird at the Wastewater this evening. Is there any chance this could be another Ruff? Maybe a female or juvenile? It resembles a Pectoral Sandpiper but it was much larger and not very active.
- Mike Boston
Mike, I didn't know what it was either so I emailed a few experts. Thanks to Phil Chu for replying that it's an Upland Sandpiper. Maybe we would have figured that out if the bird was "where it belonged" out on the fields. ;-) - Ric
While watching the eclipse Monday I noticed this bird flying along the treeline north of my shop. Sorry about the poor quality of the pictures but it was 350-500 yards away. Tried to include as many different views as I took and as you can see, it's much larger then the crow that was giving chase. Albino Red-tail, Gyrfalcon? If I see it again, I hope to get a better picture.
- Don Neumann
Wow, Don! Nothing wrong with the pictures you've sent! I think you guessed right with albino Red-tailed Hawk, but I'll email some top-gun birders to see what they think. They may post their Comments here directly, or I'll post their email replies if I hear from them. (Thanks for the eclipse too!) - Ric
I've been seeing a good number of birds at my shop, though this was a first. This Bald Eaglehas been aroundon and off all summer (it's missing a couple primaries on the left wing) and it finally decided to visit. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are passing by also.
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