Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday at Little Black Lake

I spent two hours at Little Black Lake scoping the ducks looking for something unusual.  No luck.  I birded from the west side of the lake and the north observation platform on the east side.  There were hundreds of ducks on the lake.

This is what I saw:  Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Mallard, American Wigeon, Canada Goose, Horned Grebe, Gadwall, Bufflehead, Canvasback, Redhead, American Coot, Mute Swan, Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, Pied-billed Grebe, Ruddy Duck and Common Goldeneye.  I also had Red-bellied Woodpecker, American Crow, Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay, Red-winged Blackbird and Belted Kingfisher. 

When I got home I had a Brown Creeper in the backyard, #89 for the year

- Charlie DeWitt

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Wednesday Birding

 Tree Swallow

Wednesday I birded the Muskegon County Wastewater for an hour and got my FOY Tree Swallow and noticed the RI fields were full of spider webs covered with ice crystals.  I had 26 bird species at the WW.

 Sandhill Cranes

 Wilson's Snipe

My next stop was Lane's Landing.  I spent an hour there and had 16 species.  The Sandhill Cranes were making lots of noise and I had this Wilson's Snipe do a flyby.   I also had a FOY Pied-billed Grebe calling in the marsh.

 Brown-headed Cowbird

 North American Porcupine

My last stop was the Muskegon State Game Area Headquarters.  I spent an hour and a half birding the area and saw 21 species of birds and a porcupineMy total number of bird species for the 3 1/2 hours was 44.

- Charlie DeWitt

Live Hawk Reports from Whitefish Point

Email, March 29, 1:16 p.m.:

Ken Sapkowski is in the U.P. chasing a Gyrfalcon.  On Mich-chat he saw Skye Haas's post regarding a website allowing people to view live what's being seen by the spring hawk-counter at Whitefish Point.  Ken writes: "Skye's email is way awesome!  I think it should be posted on our website.  We just got to the U.P. 10 minutes ago.  - Ken" 

So if any of you want to see the site, click here.

- Ric

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Coots and Chippers Have Returned

March 28 Email:

I was happy to see the American Coots back at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve today.  - Carol Cooper

March 29, 9:45 a.m.: Carol Pedler spots our first Chipping Sparrow of the season under the side yard feeder.  Dark-eyed Juncos still foraging in the yard, and Red-shouldered Hawks screaming periodically nearby.

- Ric

Monday, March 27, 2017

Ferrysburg Yard Bird

Golden-crowned Kinglet

While doing yard work, this little guy stopped by to watch me.

- Charlie DeWitt

Clean Boxes and Ross' Goose on Saturday

Jim Ponshair, several members of Grand Rapids Audubon, a few of us, plus Anita Friend cleaned out the bluebird boxes on the Wastewater properties in less-than-ideal conditions Saturday morning.

Some of the Grand Rapids people reported a Ross's Goose in one of the rapid filtration lagoons, probably this bird with a Canada Goose photographed by Larry Houseman later in the day

- Ric

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hawk-Frozen Chickadee?

Playing with my camera in the backyard this afternoon luring birds to a seed-covered log, I got the header-photo above of a Red-breasted Nuthatch and some easy pictures of a "frozen" Black-capped Chickadee in the same posture we used to see at the feeders in the woods on the DeWitt property when the Cooper's Hawk came by.

My chickadees typically drop down, grab a seed, and fly off in seconds.  This one stayed on the log for almost three minutes (!) eating nothing, barely moving except to look around.  The Red-shouldered Hawks have been screaming around all day, but there was no sign of them when this bird froze.  (And we also have a Cooper's Hawk.)  Who knows.

- Ric

Sunday and Monday Wastewater Reports

March 20 Email to Mich-listers:

A few noteworthy species seen this afternoon at the MWS in Muskegon
County.  Two golden eagles both perched on the same power pole along the north side of the the large east lagoon.  I saw one in flight and it was an immature.  The other didn't fly.

Near the landfill, there was one adult lesser black-backed gull on the dump and one 1st winter Iceland gull in the water adjacent to the dump.  The area they are now dumping is excellent for looking through the gulls.
Viewing from the wastewater dike.

- Chip Francke

March 21 Email:

I want to share a few pictures with you from the other night.  Went to look for the Short-eared Owls with no luck.  However, we did have three American Woodcocks.

Before sunset, we found some Snow Buntings, one of which was intent on taking a bath, so I snapped some pics of this cute and fluffy little bunting flinging water all over the place.  Then I had a Killdeer really close to the car that I wanted to take pics of, and he was apparently hunting, and he pulled a worm out and was eating it too.

- Lizzy Kibbey (Duck Wizard)


Monday, March 20, 2017

Sunday at the Wastewater

 Golden Eagle
Located along the north side of the east lagoon.

 Eastern Bluebird

 Eastern Bluebird

American Kestrel
All Photos by Carol DeWitt

- Charlie DeWitt

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Saturday Field Trip Plus Wednesday Grouse

Despite the drizzly gloomy conditions, six of us certifiably foolish overly gungho dedicated birdwatchers headed to the Wastewater properties yesterday morning to find what we could find.

Among the 35 bird species we located in 2 hours and 20 minutes of driving around the properties were American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Golden Eagle, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Bald Eagle (immature flying by Carol Cooper),

Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, Herring Gull (portraits by Charlie DeWitt),

Pileated Woodpecker, American Kestrel, Horned Lark, American Robin, Song Sparrow and Eastern Meadowlark.

Here also is a shot Charlie took through thick foliage of Wednesday's Ruffed Grouse along the Lane's Landing road:

- Ric

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Wednesday Birds

Yesterday Charlie and Feller DeWitt birded a few State Game Area sites including the Wastewater, DNR Headquarters and Lane's Landing.  Notable along their way were Snowy Owl, Golden Eagle and Ruffed Grouse.

Meanwhile Larry Houseman photographed this immature Bald Eagle and perhaps the same owl out there. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Swans on Black Lake

Trumpeter Swan (foreground)

Ted Ogren called me yesterday to come check out some swans on Little Black Lake. He thought there might be a Trumpeter Swan and a few Tundra Swans.  Sure enough when we looked at them with the spotting scope we could see two Trumpeter Swans and two Tundra Swans behind them. The swans on the ice never put their heads up, so we could not tell which species they were.

- Charlie DeWitt

Monday, March 13, 2017

W.W. Birds, Wood Ducks, and Ivory Gull

March 13 Email: 

This is a report of what other birders saw at the Wastewater this weekend.  I went down to see the Ivory Gull.*

Sat (3/11):  Northern Goshawk (S. Hutchings),  2) Golden Eagles (L. Casler), 2 Cackling Geese, also Wood Ducks are showing up.

Sun (3/12): Rick & Chace had Greater White-fronted Geese, Cackling Geese, Short-eared Owls and lots of Ring-necked Ducks and American Wigeons in the clay ponds.

- Ken Sapkowski

Thanks to Ken for these reports.  Dayle Vanderwier also reported Wood Ducks (13 individuals) this weekend on his property east of Muskegon.  * The Ivory Gull Ken mentioned was in Genessee County, one of the rarest birds in Michigan ever, but unfortunately found dead this morning; body sent to the University of Michigan.  - Ric

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Scoter and Grebe at Channel Friday

 White-winged Scoter

Horned Grebe
Photos by Carol DeWitt

Yesterday at the Silversides Parking lot Carol and I found these two birds.  (Sorry for the late report but my internet has been down until now.)

We also saw a Song Sparrow at the Wastewater south of Apple on Seba Road.

- Charlie DeWitt

Song Sparrows, Robins, Etc.

March 10 Email:

Thursday March 9 there were several Song Sparrows singing away.  Lots of fat American Robins on March 10.  - Carol Cooper

Carol's birds presumably were at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve.  I haven't seen or heard any Song Sparrows in my neighborhood yet, but there were several along the Musketawa Trail Tuesday (see below).  We had some robins in our neighborhood all winter, but probably more now.  - Ric

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Good Birds Still at Swanson & Musketawa Trail

I drove out Heights-Ravenna Road and turned south on Swanson to check on some of the birds that Mike Boston reported below.  There was a good variety of species on the flooded field.  Unfortunately this morning they were too close to the road.

I counted and photographed them from the north before driving by.  Besides lots of Canada Geese and Mallards there were Gadwall, American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal and Redhead.

Sure enough, my car scared them away when I continued south toward the Musketawa Trail.  It also scared a pair of Tundra Swans off the next puddle.

Five Sandhill Cranes and a Turkey Vulture flew over the field, and four Song Sparrows sang their territories along the trail out to the covered picnic area.  There were no waterbirds along the trail.  

I recorded 18 bird species by the time I reached the picnic table.  Then the wind blew me back to my car which unavoidably scattered all the birds off the puddles again as I drove back to Heights-Ravenna Road.

- Ric

Our own Dick Good made a Good News / Bad News discovery this afternoon at Hoffmaster State Park.  Details on our homepage.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Golden Eagle at Muskegon County Wastewater

I finally got my picture of the Golden Eagle at the Muskegon Wastewater.  This looks like the same bird that Feller and I saw in January.  When it flew, you could see the white band on the tail and some white on the wings.

- Charlie DeWitt

Monday Morning More Information

March 5 Email:

Mike, thanks for the information!  - Ric

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Duck Wizard Reports Rusties and Good Geese!

Today Lizzy Kibbey emailed us a Wastewater and State Game Area report about sightings yesterday (March 4, 2017) and Feb. 25, 2017, plus her photos of Rusty Blackbirds (her area on Bayne Road is near the Maple River about one mile east-northeast of the traditional Rusty Blackbird location at the foot bridge behind the DNR State Game Area headquarters), and Ross's, Snow and Greater White-fronted Geese.

- Ric


Here is Lizzy's complete report with many other good waterbirds:

Yesterday (March 4, 2017) Mr. Fyfe and I were in Muskegon.  We went to the MWW and also checked a few spots along the edge of Maple Island Rd near N Bayne Rd for any lingering bands of Rusty Blackbirds.  We went to the WW first and kind of ran through the fields on Swanson, but then went out the WW entrance onto Maple Island Rd to look for Rusties.  A huge flock of blackbirds dotted the tops of many bare trees.  Most of them were Rusties, although the occassional grackle and Red-winged Blackbird did occur.  We even found three female RWBL.  Not a single starling or cowbird, however.  I did take some videos of this massive flock. The Rusties even were vocalizing for us!  It was pretty cool considering the fact that I've never actually heard them before, not to mention this was a year bird for me, and the massive group was simply amazing to watch. 

After watching the blackbirds take off and relocate to another bundle of trees, we decided to head back to the WW to cover the lagoons for ducks.  Shovelers were everywhere, no doubt about that.  We didn't start off with a very diverse group of ducks.  Mostly some shovelers, a few Redheads, six Canada Geese, and a few Gadwall.  We hadn't even seen a Mallard yet!  But then as we inched closer to the dump, we saw a long string of Canada Geese, and I told Mr. Fyfe that we just HAD to scan through that for Greater White-fronted Geese.  We scoped them, and as we were counting geese, a flock of other geese flew over.  I thought they were Canadas, but then I saw flashes of white with black wingtips, and did a double take.  They were actually Snow Geese, and they had two Ross's Geese with them! 

Last Saturday we were at the MWW too with my friend from Kalamazoo.  We ended up running into a flock of Snow Geese and picked out 5 Ross's Geese.  I am led to believe that this flock of Snow Geese and Ross's Geese is the same flock that we saw yesterday and on the 25th.  I didn't go for pictures of the Ross's yesterday, but since I never reported these to you anyways, I'll attach a pic of the Ross's. 
Anyways, back to yesterday's ducks, so, the Snow Geese landed with the Canadas in the E. Lagoon.  I managed to pick out 8 Greater White-fronted Geese too.  I got bad scope pics because the wind kept moving the scope and the camera. 

​Four species of geese all in one spot!  Next were the ducks.  We had six American Wigeons all in one spot, plenty of Pintails, Green-winged Teals, Redheads, Mallards, and other ducks.  We picked up the scope and moved along down towards the Center Dike.  Down there we spotted a lone male Hooded Merganser, but he magically disappeared before I could get pictures. 

As we finished up with the E. Lagoon, we drove to the S. WW and kept going straight on Swanson till we got to the little pond area.  The water was quite open and full of Anatids.  Canada Geese, Ring-necked Ducks, Mallards, Hooded Mergansers, Redheads, a pair of Canvasbacks, Lesser Scaup, six more wigeons, plus some other ducks were all crowding the water.  No unusual looking geese, but plenty of ducks for one trip!

To finish of the trip, we ended up with 42 species for the WW that day, and a total of 19 species of waterfowl.  Waterfowl migration seems to have begun!!  

Lizzy Kibbey (Duck Wizard)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

24 Species at the Wastewater Today

There were at least 24 bird species at the Wastewater this morning including five "Year Birds" (Redhead, Northern Shoveler, Hooded Merganser, Killdeer, Eastern Meadowlark.  Yes, Charlie, I should get out more.)

I snapped this blurry image of a male mergie displaying for a female on the south side of the west lagoon before they flew away (expletive deleted), and a distant photo of 40-50 Snow Geese (at least 9 blue morph) landing in the middle of the west lagoon at ten o'clock.

Other birds included American Tree Sparrow, Bufflehead, Snow Bunting, Redhead, Common Goldeneye, Lesser Scaup, Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk and a pair of Sandhill Cranes.

- Ric

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Unusual Red-Winged Blackbird

On Monday while driving around the Muskegon County Wastewater I noticed this unusual Red-winged Blackbird.

- Charlie DeWitt