[Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
It has been a very weird start to the year for the county. Somehow I am still at same pace as last years best. The county is running better than last years best pace also. Some really rare over-wintering birds have popped up so far this year. We had a mild start to the year so lakes were still open.
Mine in bold
As I mentioned I had a couple of American Wigeons on the backwater here, my first January record of them, and first county January record. I also added Bufflehead, Gadwall, Swamp Sparrow, Canvasback and White-crowned Sparrow to my January list. Open water to start the year, definitely helped this out. The Swamp Sparrow was sighted while doing the Albion CBC.
On Jan 15 had a large flock of Snow Buntings at 6 Mile road. My single frame count was 218, with likely more outside the frame. Also on the 15th at Pine Creek Wetlands I had some of my best shots of a great looking Dark Morph Rough-legged Hawk. On Jan 22nd I finally caught the large flock of Lapland Longspurs on B DR N in Albion. I had a frame count of 203, with likely even more outside the frame. I believe this is the largest flock we have had reported in the county.
This winter seems to be a little lighter on the action at the feeders. Only a handful of accipiter passes at the feeder so far this year. On 2/1 I had a Red-tailed Hawk make an amazing pass at the feeder as I looked out. I could hear the air flowing over its wings from inside, and it was angled about 80 degrees to the ground. it didn't nab anything though. The next day I had my first Sharp-shinned Hawk for the year. I noticed it only because I happened to glance outside and noticed nothing was at the feeder. A shape in the trees caught my eye. I initially though Mourning Dove till I noticed it was sitting upright. Sure enough a Sharpie was monitoring the feeders. It took off after a bird up in another tree, then proceeded to hide in some other trees to the south. Shortly after dogs had to go out, and Angeline booked out towards the feeders. I didn't see the hawk, so I think she spooked it. It was while we were out there Herc was sniffing around a small cedar near the feeders. Out popped an adult male Eastern Towhee. I had no optics on me so I recorded it as Eastern Towhee. It was only after that I thought Spotted Towhee could be a possibility in the winter. Luckily it showed back up, and I was able to get pics to nail the ID. Really great bird for this time of the year, not super rare, but still good.
On 2/5 I finally got over to Whitehouse and nabbed the Fox Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow (my first Feb record). I didn't find the Hermit Thrush, but really didn't put in a great effort either. On the 6th I finally got a Turkey Vulture as I headed south on M-66 to Athens. Bald Eagles were all over the place down there. I had somewhere between 5-7 of them around the Athens area. On 2/9 I had my earliest record for Common Grackle for the year.
The highlight for the 9th, and for the year, was a fluke flyover. The dogs just happened to drag me outside, and fortuitously had my binocs on me. I noticed a large bird gliding over heading south. I put my binoculars on it, and two large white patched under its wings made it an easy ID. #155 for the yard, Golden Eagle!!! It is likely the same juvenile that has been seen just south of here once, and also several times North of Marshall near the R DR N area. What a great bird to get for the yard count!!
I'm really surprised I am at where I am so far as I've not been able to get out as much as I'd like. I've had a couple weekends I never went out, and several just going out one day. Angeline has had some health issues since we got back from up North, so have been trying to keep an eye on her as much as possible. She seems better, but still day to day on symptoms so future outings will hinge on how she is. Still want to target crossbills though. My list of possible birds to add to county list is really dwindling down. Getting harder to add new one, and either crossbill would be a new one.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)