Birding in Calhoun County and beyond
Good grief, it has really been 17 days since my last post?!?!? I've made a little progress on the Calhoun County Birding site, so there is that, and a great little vacation up north. Sure enough the day after I get back, Doug McWhirter reported a California Gull on Duck Lake. This would be by far the rarest bird seen in this county, at least amongst the eBird reports (American Flamingo would have to rank as rarer). As I write this it has still not been confirmed on eBird. Not surprising considering this is a MBRC review species. Hopefully it can go through the review process and be approved.
I was able to get out there the next morning to try to look....nada. Even at 7:30 a.m. the gulls were already off the lake. I returned at 4:00 p.m., and plenty of gulls, but they were approximately 1800-2000 feet away. A Herring Gull caused a brief stir for myself, but Tom Wheeker, Bruce Cohen and myself soon spied a Juvenile Herring Gull swim past it showing it to be what it was. At that distance, the size of the Herring Gull didn't look as large as they truly are compared to the Ring-billed Gulls. Another trip the following day yielded the same results. Plenty of Ring-billed Gulls, but not another interesting Gull in the group.
2 Days later the Great Franklin's Gull invasion occurred in the East, and we were lucky enough to be included. Again Doug McWhirter was at the right place (Duck Lake) at the right time (the day of the big influx in to Michigan). I was able to get out there the next morning (thank you for it being a Saturday!!). Very dark, overcast, and luckily I timed it right. Was able to sight 4 Franklin's Gulls in the midst of some Ring-billed Gulls, and a nearby Bonaparte's Gull for a good comparison. It was a good thing, as when I returned later that night to try to get some better pictures, there were none to be seen.
I did say I wanted better picture right? Could be years before these guys show up around here again. The previous sighting for the county was in 2008. This is the second rarest bird I have seen in the county. A great treat, just wish it could have been enjoyed longer, and in better conditions.
Shortly after Homer Sewage gave up a Cackling Goose for #190 for the year. 2 Birds ahead of my pace from last year. Again I start to feel that twinge of regret from not chasing some "easy" birds earlier in the year. Franklin's Gull wasn't even on the radar for the birds to try to still get to 200 this year. So it was a bonus, as far as that goes. The Franklin's and Cackler also put the county up to 208 for the year, only one behind last year (my Short-eared Owl doesn't show up on eBird for some reason, so we are probably at 209 already). Another great year for birding in Calhoun.
This past week also allowed me to run in to a few other birders that have birded the county quite a bit. Leah Dodd and Daniel Toronto and Doug McWhirter I was able to meet, and discuss further the birding in the county. The more eyes, are proving to be the better for the birding in the county.
For my own benefit, another look at 10 birds to get to 200.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)