Saturday, April 29, 2017

Backyard Grosbeak & Nature Preserve Birds

Our first-of-the-year Rose-Breasted Grosbeak showed up on the feeder before breakfast today:

After breakfast I spent the morning birding the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve.  Wow, have they ever chopped out a lot of habitat in the SW quadrant!  Palm Warblers were plentiful (I saw six and heard others).

I heard a Northern Parula and was finally able to find it south of the pavilion.


I added six Year Birds among 31 species which included Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Green Heron, Hairy Woodpecker, House and Marsh Wrens, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-rumped Warbler, plus White-throated and Swamp Sparrows

- Ric

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Piping Plovers and Caspian Terns

April 26 Email:

On Tuesday 4/25/17 I observed 2 Piping Plovers at Muskegon.  They were both males from last year.  On Wednesday 4/26/17 Bahama Mama was back with her original male, Little Guy.  They are still moving sand around at the beach.  Birds were located at different spots, but appear to be looking for a nesting spot.

I also had 2 Caspian Terns among the gulls.

- Carol Cooper

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Some Saturday Birds at the WW

April 25 Email:

I took these this past Saturday and although they were out of range of my lens (600mm with 1.4TC-now 840mm) the birds can still be ID-ed.  There were just a few of the Bonaparte' Gulls and I think the other far bird is a 1st spring White-winged Scoter. Good ID difference between the yellowlegs although the greater being soft in the picture.  Great day for the Horned Grebes.

Phil Willemstein, Grand Rapids.

Bonaparte's Gull
White-winged Scoter?
Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs
Horned Grebe

Friday, April 21, 2017

Gull Identification, Anyone?

Mike, thanks for the email and photos.  I don't do gulls either, but hopefully someone else will comment.  - Ric

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Muskegon Sora and Spring Lake Bird Battle

April 19 Email:

"I got some pics of the Sora today at Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve.

I also birded Mill Point Park in Spring Lake.  Some Canada Geese got a little too close to a Mute Swan nest and the swan went after the geese.  The swan won."

- Carol Cooper

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ruff Still Here and Spring Birds Arriving

The previously-reported Swanson Road Ruff was seen by Dayle Vanderwier on Monday and reported at 4:00 p.m. yesterday (Tuesday) by Belinda Meier on Mich-listers.

Carol Cooper emailed yesterday that there were lots of good birds at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve including Sora, Virginia Rail, kinglets and warblers.  She sent these photos of an Eastern Phoebe with nesting material, Pied-billed Grebe, and American Bittern (probably the same bird as Casey Irwin's below).

- Ric

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Two Spring Migrants This Afternoon

A very accommodating Purple Finch landed in our backyard maple this afternoon and stayed long enough for me to grab the camera and take his picture.

Then Carol noticed that the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker had returned to his annual location high up in a neighbor's tree.

Here he stepped off his branch and dropped down our way:

- Ric

American Bittern at the Nature Preserve

April 15 Email:

I had a pretty good few hours at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve today.  Highlight of the day has to be an American Bittern along the boardwalk on the western side of the preserve.  Lifer 200 for me.

- Casey Irwin

Saturday, April 15, 2017

This 'n That from Today and Last Week

The Ruff is still being reported this afternoon at the Swanson Road location posted below.

I spent this morning walking Black Lake Park.  I recorded 40 bird species and increased my Year List to 91 as if anyone were counting.

Highlights included a Common Raven ! flying over the Wood Road bridge at 9:00, a female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at the creek along the park's south border, several Ruby-crowned Kinglets foraging there as well (many singing and calling), Sandhill Crane, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Pileated Woodpecker, Osprey, Blue-winged Teal, Hermit Thrush, Pine Warbler, Brown Creeper and Yellow-rumped Warbler.

I discovered that trying to photograph some of these birds (especially the kinglets) with my camera was like trying to nail jelly to a tree, but I did get a few obstructed and butt shots.

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

Hermit Thrush

Pine Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler
- Ric

Here's a better photo from Casey Irwin of a Palm Warbler in his yard on April 11:

Ruff and Lesser Black-backed Gull

Carol and I took the indirect route home from Applebees after supper yesterday to see how many birders might be looking at the Ruff west of Swanson north of Hile.  Surprisingly there were none at 6:15.  Several birds occupied the huge wet puddle west of the turkey farm including the Ruff and a black-backed gull.

As we were leaving, we met Mike Boston.  He took this photo of the Ruff ...  

... and also confirmed that the gull was a Lesser-Black-backed Gull.

- Ric

Friday, April 14, 2017

Ruff Again Near Muskegon

April 13 Email:

Tonight about 8:00 p.m. I saw a male Ruff, presumably the same bird from the Wastewater, on Swanson Road a few hundred yards north of Hile Road right across the road from the turkey farm. I have pictures but it was pretty far away and getting towards dusk so they aren't worth posting. I put my scope on it and there's no doubt about what it was.

- Mike Boston

Mike, that's a great find!  Thanks for replying with this photo, too.  Any picture of that bird is a good one!

- Ric

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Opossum on Saturday

April 10 Email:

I found this cutie at the Wastewater early Saturday evening.

- Carol Cooper


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Two Year Birds and a Snake

While we were walking Hemlock Crossing this afternoon, Carol noticed a snake hanging around beyond the bridge.

Black Rat Snake identified by the two park naturalists,
Thank You!

Among the 14 bird species were Golden-crowned Kinglet, Brown Creeper, and my 83rd and 84th year birds: Field Sparrow and five Yellow-rumped Warblers (two males, three dulls, along the north side of the river).

- Ric

Western Meadowlark Reported at Wastewater

Jeff Fossmo reported a Western Meadowlark on eBird at the Wastewater today I emailed him and he told me, "I saw it to the east of the cells near the tree line there," and sent me this map:

Good luck to anybody else searching for it! I'd love to see photos or recordings if anyone can manage.

- Caleb Putnam

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Beautiful Morning Along the Maple River

I almost turned in at the Wastewater entrance this morning, but I already had the Ruff.  I continued on to State Game Area headquarters and walked the south bank of the Maple River out to the snipe field and back.  Excellent decision!

Daddy Eastern Bluebird by the parking lot.

Highlights included Eastern Phoebes hawking insects; Song Sparrows singing variations on their theme; Blue Jays singing, jaying, throat-clucking and hawk-mimicking; a pair of Northern Flickers playing tag; a male Rusty Blackbird singing from the top of a tree at the Messinger Road gate; Sandhill Cranes kar-OOk'ing all around (3 on the snipe field; 1 high overhead heading north); 

... a Pied-billed Grebe submerging like a miniature submarine into the still waters of the river never to be seen again; one Wilson's Snipe winnowing over the snipe field (west of headquarters, east of Lane's Landing), eighteen others spooking from the field before I could spot them on the muck ...

"Invisible" Wilson Snipes on their muddy field.

... a shadow crossing mine, feathers swishing from the young Bald Eagle hunting low over the snipe field; a Virginia Rail grunting from the shallow water north of the path and a minute later it or another grunting from the south side of the path; LBJ's flying into thickets everywhere, Song Sparrows when identifiable, wagtails (I presume) when not.

It's not that there were 33 species.  It's not that there were five Year Birds (I'm at 82 now, but who's counting).  It's just that it was a beautiful walk through lovely habitat among common wonderful birds and frogs and trees, and I'm still geeked!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Two More Photos of the Ruff

We'll leave it with eBird and Mich-listers to keep you updated on the comings and goings of the Wastewater Ruff.  Thanks to Robert Bochenek and Casey Irwin for sending these photos from earlier in the week:

Ruff by Robert Bochenek

Ruff by Casey Irwin

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Tuesday at Black Lake Park

 Winter Wren

 Eastern Bluebird

 Hermit Thrush

 Eastern Phoebe

Ring-necked Ducks

I spent two hours birding Black Lake Park in Muskegon County.  It was cloudy when I started but the sun came out and it was a nice walk. Some birds of note for me were Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Fox Sparrow, Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, Eastern Phoebe and Brown Creeper 

After birding the park I went over to the west side of the lake to look for waterfowl.  That put the sun at my back.  I counted 17 species of waterfowl.

- Charlie DeWitt

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Ruff Reported All Day Tuesday

There have been several Mich-lister reports of the Ruff still at the Wastewater well into the afternoon today in the same general area as the previous post.  It has traded its Lesser Yellowlegs friends from this morning for its Pectoral Sandpiper friends from yesterday.

Ruff Still There This Morning

At 8:45 this morning in light rains the Ruff was in Rapid Infiltration Cell E3 (just north of where the sewage trucks swerve west from the scales and turn south to their dumping station up at the aeration cells).

I was told that all morning the Ruff was accompanied by three Lesser Yellowlegs, that they flew over to the west regularly and whenever a truck drove by, but always returned to E3, and that when flying the Ruff was the larger, bulkier, faster bird.

During my short stay they flew from E3 to E2 and back and then from E3 west to the D-cells and back.  Thanks to the lady who gave me a better view of this Lifer through her spotting scope!

- Ric

Monday, April 3, 2017

Ruff at the Wastewater This Afternoon !

About 2:30 p.m. I got a call from Ken Sapkowski that someone had reported a Ruff at the Wastewater.  I told him that I would meet him there.  When I got to the Wastewater, I bumped into Chip Francke and he told me the Ruff was in Rapid Infiltration Cell D2.  I found it right away and watched it for a little over an hour.

- Charlie DeWitt

Thanks to everybody, especially Terry Grabill who made the initial Mich-listers report and Charlie for the photographs!  This is not only a fantastic rarity, but being a male in breeding plumage, a truly beautiful shorebird as well.  The only other Ruff ever reported at the Wastewater was by Jim Ponshair in 1982, a bird that stuck around June 5, 6, and 7.  Let's hope this one does too!  - Ric