Saturday, November 30, 2019

Saturday Morning at the Wastewater

Up here for Thanksgiving my Ohio son Steve accompanied me to the Wastewater yesterday morning looking for Snowies or whatever.  We witnessed the encounter below, three Rough-legged Hawks, and Charlie DeWitt (who had seen a Snow Bunting), but saw nothing snowy ourselves.

Heading south on Swanson we watched an immature Bald Eagle scare the landfill gulls and then glide southeast.  A few minutes later we saw it on the field east of Swanson south of Apple.  It had some small prey in its talons.  Beside it was a Common Raven.

About six feet separated the birds except when the raven stepped toward its gigantic foe, beak up in a menacing posture.  Then the eagle would respond with a counter-charge displaying the prey, some grass stalks, and its talons.  The raven wisely stepped back.  

We figured that the prey belonged to the raven before the eagle arrived and that the raven wanted it back.  Otherwise it's hard to explain why an intelligent animal would intentionally get that close to those talons.

The dance continued until we stepped out of the car.  Then the raven flew up, performed an impressive low-level wing-over, crawked, and flew north beyond Apple.  The eagle carried its prey and grass stalks in the same direction for a few hundred yards, then settled back down on the field.

- Ric

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Harbor Island

 Mute Swans

 American Wigeon


Canada Geese, Gadwall and American Wigeon

Yesterday Annette Makin on Facebook reported a large flock of ducks on Harbor Island, so this morning I checked it out.  I counted 82 Gadwall, 13 American Wigeon, 2 Mallards, 8 Buffleheads, 250 Canada Geese and 50 Mute Swans.  There were also 5 American Crows, 2 European Starlings and 1 Downy Woodpecker.

- Charlie DeWitt

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Christmas Bird Counts & Hemlock Crossing

If you're interested in either of the Muskegon Christmas Bird Counts (Dec. 14 and 18, 2019) or a report about our club's November field trip to Hemlock Crossing, go to our home page.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Of Peregrine Falcons and Short-eared Owls

At our meeting last night, Chip Francke presented an interesting program about Peregrine Falcons with emphasis on those that bred for several years at Grand Haven.  The Board of Light and Power smokestack will come down soon leaving no place high enough in that area for peregrines to breed. * 

In better news, Chip mentioned that Short-eared Owls are back on the south Wastewater properties.

- Ric

Peregrine nest boxes remain at the Consumers Power Campbell plant (between Grand Haven and Holland) and in downtown Grand Rapids.  The Muskegon nest boxes from the old B.C. Cobb stack are still awaiting residents on the roof of the Shoreline Inn hotel.  Since the relocation of those boxes, peregrines were reported eating pigeons on that roof with one even entering a nest box.  Those reports are old, however, and we know of no recent sightings of local peregrines in the Muskegon area.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Two Photos from Saturday

Thanks to two members of the Barry County Audubon Club (see post below) for sending these photos taken on Saturday during their field trip:

White-tailed Deer by Maive

Cell phone image of Greater White-fronted Goose by Gayle

- Ric

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Gloomy Saturday Morning with Many Birds

I birded the Wastewater properties Saturday morning, most of the time with 14 members of the Barry County Audubon Club on their field trip.  Despite dodging raindrops, we found a good number of birds, and they were still looking when I left.

Among the 15 species I saw were 7 Gadwall at the Clay Pond, 36 Snow Buntings along the southern half of the main dike, 24 American Black Ducks and 2 Green-winged Teal in Aeration Cell #5, 15 American Pipits, 6 Dunlin and a Pectoral Sandpiper in the south Rapid Filtration Basins,  2 Red-tailed Hawks, 1 Bald Eagle, and a Partridge in a Pear -- uh, no.

One of many Ruddy Ducks on the West Lagoon

Just before I joined the group, a member of their club had taken an excellent photo of a gigantic White-tailed Deer with a huge rack!  If she sends me that photo, I will post it here.

- Ric

Friday, October 18, 2019

Black Lake Park Today

 American Robin

 Cedar Waxwing

 Song Sparrow

 Black-capped Chickadee

 Swamp Sparrow


Wood Ducks

These are some of the birds I saw at Black Lake Park this morning.  I had a total of 26 species on my two- hour hike.  There were 21 Pie-billed Grebes on the lake.

- Charlie DeWitt

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Monday Sandpiper and Thursday Migrants

The last report I saw of a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper sighting at the Wastwater was on Monday the 7th.  

This morning I spent two hours at the south wall of the Muskegon Channel Blue Jays continued to stream by (1st hour ~730, 2nd hour ~200 = ~930).  Their behavior is fascinating.  Southbound crows (100) outnumbered northbound crows (50).  So what are they doing?

Only 21 migrating raptors (16 sharpies, 2 kestrels, 1 harrier, 1 Coop, 1 peregrine), 3 migrating woodpeckers (probably red-headed's), 5 Monarch butterflies and ~200 non-jay migrating songbirdsWouldn't it be nice to know more!

- Ric

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper on Sunday

The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was still being viewed by several people in the Wastewater C-1 cell at 11:15 this morning.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Avocet and Migrants

At 11:00 this morning Mark Moerdyk reported the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and an American Avocet on the Muskegon County Wastewater properties.

There were considerably more "raptors" migrating* over the Grand Haven Channel this morning (25 in 20 minutes) than the Muskegon Channel yesterday morning (13 in 110 minutes).  Plenty of Blue Jays southbound over both (30 at Grand Haven, 280 at Muskegon).  

- Ric

20 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 7 Broad-winged's, 4 Turkey Vultures, 2 Redtails, 1 Cooper's, 1 Bald Eagle, 3 unidentified raptors, 310 Blue Jays.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Two More Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Photos

Here are two more photos of the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper emailed to us from Bruce Delamarter.  

Thanks, Bruce.  As you can see from the posts below, it's also been photographed by others!  Thanks, everybody!

- Ric

Sharp-Tailed Sandpiper

The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was still in the same cell as of 6:00 p.m. Friday, 10-4.  And, oh, by the way, he has a friend.

- Don Neumann

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Still Here

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
photo by Carol DeWitt

The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was still at the Muskegon Wastewater as of 11:30 a.m. 10-04-2019.

- Charlie DeWitt

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

- Charlie DeWitt

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at the Wastewater

Thanks to Glenda Eikenberry and Ken Sapkowski for calling to inform us of a confirmed Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at the Wastewater this morning.  It was in Section C of the rapid-filtration lagoons; i.e., the center area of the grassy fields south of the entrance road (White) and north of the aeration lagoons.

A quick check of eBird indicates this is only the third sighting of the species in Michigan, the second in July 2017 at Point Mouille State Game Area near Detroit and the first in August 2016 at the Muskegon County Wastewater Management System.

It's an Asian species, similar to a Pectoral Sandpiper, a rarity along the west coast of the United States.  If you get a photo, please email it and we'll post it here.

- Ric