Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
The extended holiday time, and continuation of excessive chaos that caused me to not take a break doing that week, caused me to get out and about a few more times in the past week. While watching the feeders while in the midst of Chaos on 11/19, I did happen to catch 7 Pine Siskins finally show up. 1 bird down, 2 more to go for why I put up an extra feeder post. That brought the yard total to 131 this year. After a couple of hours, off and on, I've not seen them since that day.
On the 24th I saw an American Wigeon, one of the few ducks to show up this season out in the backwater. That made 39 for the month, so a new high for the yard. I've still yet to hit 26 or higher in a day. One day left, so not looking good. I hit 25 one day, but it has been very sparse on birds.
On Thanksgiving I decided to head out and hit up Grever's Nature Preserve. It struck me immediately how many Red-breasted Nuthatches I could hear. I arrived near the end of one trail and the cacophony of birds was something to behold. At least a dozen birds in a very excited state. I lifted up my binoculars and managed to put them right on a small, raggeded, Sharp-shinned Hawk being mobbed. Mobbed that is until it moved a couple of times. The chatter stopped and the scattering started. There wasn't a lot there, but I had a minimum of 12 Red-breasted Nuthatches. Irruption season indeed. Wilder Creek at Division gave me FOY American Black Duck. A bird I thought was a gimme on the backwater, but zip so far. Fairview gave up nothing other than signs of a makeover in progress. Large rocks look like they are getting added to the sides of the main lagoon.
Friday I headed out again heading toward the north. Duck Lake gave mixed results. Lots of birds and gulls, but so far away hard to pick up anything unusual. I stopped by R DR N and 20.5 Mile on the way home and found a Trumpeter Swan family with 2 very grey juveniles. As I sat there, lifting up from the farm fields on the south were hundreds of Canada Geese previously invisible in the dark. Glassing them I saw 4 white birds mixed in with them. Sure enough black wing-tips and not much smaller than the CANG gave me FOY Snow Goose. I had dipped on the one at Eaton in Marshall when I drove by there.
Sunday I headed back out again. I was almost desperate enough over the past few days to try to go to Berrien for Black-legged Kittiwake. I didn't want to get shutout of lifers for this horrible year. I decided to just try local since I still have time off this next week to run and do that. I was driving down F DR N past FlexGate and this large flock of birds broke from the weeds across from the entrance. I almost dismissed them as Goldfinches, but that seemed like a very large flock for them. I turned back around and sure enough Lifer Common Redpolls!!! I had to drive only 2 miles to find them. I didn't get one of the other birds I put in the extra feeder for on them, yet, but it was nice to see a flock of 50 plus. I got some really good looks at some, but not good enough to check every one for Hoary. I still miss my good lens, but I cannot complain about this shot.
After this I headed to Baker Sanctuary. Again very quiet place there, but I did manage 18 species. Just seemed really concentrated and then long times of nothing. Ackley Lake had almost noting. I thought I had an out of season Blue-winged Teal, but my photos revealed it was a female scaup teasing me in the bad lighting. R DR N gave me hundreds of Sandhill Cranes and Ring-billed Gulls. Nothing interesting mixed in. The Trumpeter Swan family from a couple of days ago was joined by 13 others in the same field by 20.5 Mile and R DR N.
23 Mile and 0 DR N gave up a Cackling Goose doing a really good job trying to hide amongst the Canada Geese in the small cow pond. Duck Lake only had some brief views at the south end. There were still fishermen out on the lake with mild weather. 4 Surf Scoters made it as hard as possible to try to hide their ID. One odd bird seen earlier in the day that was decided on to be a Greater Scaup, with a nearby Canvasback give me a FOY trifecta on those 3. Again 2 of these birds I expected I might be able to get onto the yard list.
173 birds for the year isn't exactly setting things on fire when you consider I've average just under 200 per year. Maybe this year was a lost opportunity with COVID. Not sure how I could have managed as bad as Chaos was though. It definitely took some major cuts into my time out with the birds this year.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)