Birding in Calhoun County and beyond
I've been putting this off way too long now. The last few weeks of 2016 had very little to show for it in Calhoun County. I did manage 3 CBC in the last 2 days of the year, and the first day of the new year. Some decent finds there, but nothing new to add for the year (with the Albion CBC the only one located in Calhoun.
A juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was still present in my yard as of 12/19. Duck Lake had a very small patch of open water on it. One juvenile Trumpeter Swan didn't make it, and its body was present on the edge of the ice. I'm hopeful the one Hooded Merganser that was there, left before it ran out of water for taking off. On the 26th I ran across some gulls (finally) in a farm field. Nothing there that stuck out besides Herring and Ring-billed. I had hopes the Thayer's candidate might have been out there.
My Owling for the Albion CBC netted me only an Eastern Screech-owl. My 69th bird of December. I ended up besting my December high of 53, by 16 more birds. That CBC was still an excellent day of birding. Managed to hit a few new spots in the county I'd not been to before.
The 31st I helped out in the Kalamazoo CBC. A 3 mile walk on the tracks tracks provided some good birding. Extremely high amount of Brown Creepers on that hike was flagged by eBird. 23 species while on that walk seemed like a pretty decent count for the end of December. I then walked from G AVE up the Kalamazoo River Trail. Ran across a nice group of sparrows; American Tree Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Junco, even a Swamp Sparrow and one I tagged as White-crowned and snapped some pics for verification. Upon looking at the pics later, something just seemed off. It was a Field Sparrow, mixed in with American Tree Sparrows right in some bushes in the water of the river. A rather nice find of December. I was told that was the 3rd one in the last 12 years. Near the end I had a nice low flyover of a Cooper's Hawk, and managed some decent pictures.
The Barry County CBC on the 1st was very successful for Owl that morning. Great Horned, Barred and even Northern Saw-whet Owls were to be found. Surprisingly no Eastern Screech-owls made themselves known. Two Hermit Thrushes also showed up in the same Sager Tr swampy area the Saw-whets were heard a few hours earlier. It turned out to be a good day for the expected species in and around the Barry County Game Area. Pileated Woodpeckers were tagged with a high count, that I was able to spread out to individual sites. Carrier signal made it difficult to enter normal eBird sightings via the app.
As I have thought for the last few months, I have not been out much (at all really) since the 1st. Between an illness and focused more on domestic needs, my birding has been keeping the feeders full and a couple "scenic" route trips to Meijer. I did manage to catch my first Sharp-shinned Hawk in the yard. I spooked him off a branch overlooking the feeders when I walked past the picture window. A couple of days later some more fortuitous timing and I managed to catch a Cooper's Hawk go after the feeder and come up empty. So I may be feeding more than just the "normal" birds out in this yard and missing similar sightings.
All in all 2016 turned out to be excellent year for birding in Calhoun County. We ended up with 216 birds reported overall in the county. That is a high for eBird. I ended the year at 206 bird, 6 more than my goal. I managed new highs for both monthly birds, and "Big Day" birds in a month for every month but August. Most of those new highs well surpassing the previous. I nabbed 12 new birds for the county during the year, to put my total up to 221. Considering how light the birding will be I'll likely have another post shortly that gets very "geeky" on some of the numbers, talking about changes in the codes that this past year brought on (hint looks like less than I thought), and the addition of 6 new birds to the local county mix.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)