Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
When we last left off I was pushing for 100 birds in July for the county. I had hopes that D DR S would get some shorebirds so hit that up after work on the 25th. Common Gallinule called briefly while I was there. My hopes for this being a good spot for shorebirds is diminishing. The grass that is there is very high, and I think the water is fairly high there and won't give up too much mud. I revisited on the 26th, and the Gallinule was not making itself known.
Saturday really started the push, as I was at 96 birds for the month. My realistic targets were a Lesser Yellowlegs at Duck Lake WTP earlier in the week, maybe some Least Sandpiper, Cliff Swallows or Bonaparte's Gulls there also. I started my normal route there which took me to Lake of the Woods hoping maybe Gulls were present there. I was greeted by a Spotted Sandpiper, first one reported there, at the boat launch. Not much else there other than Eastern Kingbirds being a first reported there also. From there I headed toward 23 Mile Road and O DR N. Along the way I passed this small pond on O DR N right before 21.5 Mile Road. I've had some birds there, but never really paid a whole lot of attention to it. As I passed I saw quite a bit of activity happening on some mud along the edge I've never seen before.
At this small pond was a nice big white bird towards the back, FOY Great Egret. I did a quick scan of the activity along the muddy edges, and saw a Peep along the edge. Getting out of the Jeep and getting some glass on it and pics, the green legs clearly ID this as a Least Sandpiper, #98 for the month. It was joined by numerous Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper and Solitary Sandpipers. No Yellowlegs or other birds there though. Not bad place to luck in to with 2 quick birds added for July.
23 Mile Road and O DR N had plenty of life. The Red-winged Blackbirds are starting to gather in larger flocks. There are plenty along the edges as I pulled up. I spotted a female Dickcissel carry a big juicy caterpillar. Hopefully carrying it to a young one in a nest nearby. A male Dickcissel kept and eye on me in a nearby bush also. I also observed a juvenile Eastern Meadowlark darting around the field there. It was joined soon after by an Adult. Looks like there was some successful breeding for them at this location. I also observed a Ring-necked Pheasant photo-bombing a fawn crossing the road. Other juveniles observed here were Purple Martin and Barn Swallow.
From there I stopped at Voorhees Sanctuary hoping for Yellow-billed Cuckoo or spotting the Barred Owl. Really not much to be found here. Duck Lake WTP was not happening either. Those grown up edges are not promising unless they really let that water level drop there over the next month. CC Landfill had no gulls there, so Herring Gull was not going to get checked off the list. I decided to try at Baker for pics of Butterflies. Plenty there, but not really able to get many pictures as they were very mobile. One great sight there as the Trumpeter Swans that bred there were extremely successful. 7 cygnets were spotted along with the 2 parents. They still have some growing to do, but they are off to a great start.
Sunday I decided that Woodland Park was going to be my best hope to pick up 2 more. It was an excellent morning, and I was greeted within 20 minutes of a bird I did not expect. I had really quick views, and the song sounded somewhat familiar. It took a few minutes but I finally caught a flash of the yellow spots on the tail. A female or juvenile American Redstart was flitting through the trees. #99!! One more to go. 41 species while there was nice. It was very active and nice to see for this time of the year. Nothing else there though. After this I headed to Meijer to do a quick scan through the gulls. Another car drove through and tossed something out the window which caused all hell to break loose. As the Gulls jockeyed for position one large juvenile jumped in and was easily the most dominant bird there. I tried as much as I could to make it into a Herring Gull, but the size difference was not as much as it should have been. I asked for opinion on Whatbird, but was confirmed it was a Ring-billed Gull. From there I headed to the airport. The small pond on the south was down to quite a bit of mud, so there is a chance for some shorebirds there, but nothing else really of note spotted.
I had to give the O DR N pond another shot to see if maybe a Lesser Yellowleg showed up, or maybe another shorebird that could get me to #100. The Least Sandpiper continued there, but no new shorebirds. I did observe a Mallard catch a Dragonfly as it flew by and eat it. The Cedar Waxwings gave me some good opportunities for in flight shots. Duck Lake WTP was a bust again also, leaving me at #99 as I headed home to try to contemplate what to do next. I could either try for some owls (not fun on the night prior to going back to work), or try for O DR N pond after work on Monday. As I reviewed my potential list I came across the Peregrine Falcon. I did some research and fond it hadn't been reported at all in July, which was worrisome. They are year round residents though, so I figured I would give it a shot. The weather was nice so I could park downtown, with the top down and check out the Heritage Tower. After about an hour I heard a strange call, that couldn't really be anything else that would be there. Two seconds later right over head a Peregrine came soaring over and up to the first ledge on the Tower. #100 down, and a FOY also. Great bird to top things off for the month.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)