[Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
This year continues to be good on the birding front, if not much else. The numbers overall continue to be well above any previous pace. February ended at 101 species for the county, with me having 83 and 5 others even with my previous high pace. Just an outstanding start to the year so far.
I submitted paperwork from the Kittiwake, but was informed despite it being inland it didn't need to be reviewed. This paid off though as Adam Byrne had my e-mail and sent me a note on 2/20 that he had located a Barrow's Goldeneye on the Kazoo river off Custer drive. I should say "The" Barrow's as this is highly likely to be the Kalamazoo County bird relocated to open water. This is a MBRC review bird, and a county first. I was able to get word out to the local birders and the bird was being seen by others from around the state through at least the 27th. This was bird 243 for the county for me.
The River between the Jackson St trail and the Custer Drive bridge also contributed FOY, Cedar Waxwing, Ring-necked Duck, Golden-crowned Kinglet and Canvasback. Tangentially traveling between the two spots I had my best looks at Red-shouldered Hawk. No need to try to go all the way out to Duck Lake to try chasing that one. The feeders at 19 Mile Road paid off with FOY Cowbirds, along with even more Red-winged Blackbirds.
The 27th paid off hugely as I had FOY Killdeer at the airport while Hercules got to run around in the rapidly dwindling snow piles. I heard several more Killdeer at other spots throughout the day. The best bird though was what I thought was a FOY Turkey Vulture, but it wasn't quite right so I had to stop. The bird was not rocking while in the air, nor did it have a deep dihedral. It turned out to be a Golden Eagle!! My best looks ever and I got a slew of excellent pictures of this near adult bird. Really a great experience.
I dipped on Green-winged Teal 3 times this past weekend, but still managed an early Northern Shoveler off Division Drive way out in the middle of the Kalamazoo River. Wilder Creek did give up a Northern Pintail that took me a close look at home to identify. She wasn't extending her neck, and the profile photos just weren't clicking with me the tail was longer than most other ducks. The next day I had a FOY Common Grackle calling there also.
Sharp-shinned Hawk(s) visited the feeder, literally, a couple of times giving me some decent looks. I wasn't able to see if catch anything though. The yard paid off on the 21st by giving me 8 birds after seeing 38 traveling around, for a new Feb day high of 46 species. Quite a few days over 40 this past month.
Numbers wise this year is great, but the experience and escape from Chaos has been the biggest gain so far. Hercules is still a handful, and I don't think he will be accompanying me during migration unless he really gets his act together. Hopefully I can get him worked out on that as he does show some improvement, and at least will every once in a while chill while I try to watch something.
Here you can see the difference in shape from the Golden Eagle on the left, and the Bald Eagle on the right.
Three Buteos, with Red-shouldered Hawk, an abieticola Red-tailed Hawk (look at how thick that belly-band is!!), and a Rough-legged Hawk with a very fancy vest.
Other photos. The Sigma 150-600 isn't as sharp as my Canon 400mm, but when there is sunlight I've still managed some good photos at 600mm.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)