[Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
Chaos struck again with biologics, and right in the middle of migration I got handicapped for about 2 weeks. I had to rely on nabbing some FOY birds in the yard, and it ended up being not nearly as much as I had hoped. My goal of hitting 200 by end of May was not too be. Once it hit I only managed a Blackpoll Warbler in the yard. Missing out on 5-6 reported warblers. On the 19th I decided I had to go out and at least try for a Common Gallinule and Yellow-breasted Chats at Baker. Dipped on the Gallinule, but the Chat was very showy. Downside, Hercules went with me and we ended up with 3 ticks a piece, 2 on me during the night, and 9 ticks found the following day on the floor in some state of dead or dying. I didn't realized this years was seeing an explosion, or I'd have taken more precautions.
On the morning of the 23rd I had been given green light to start wearing my contacts again, so took advantage and went to Woodland. Nabbed both Cuckoos, a Willow Flycatcher and was surprised by a Prothonotary Warbler calling. These got me over the 180 mark, which is the minimum I think you have to be at to get to 200 (I did manage 201 in 2019 ending May at 174, but I was at 180 on 6/2). I decided to hit it hard on the last 2 days of the 3 day Memorial Day weekend. I had hopes to try to get 9 breeders I was missing to get to 190.
Amy Lyyski also found a couple of Chats near that area. Also was thankful she posted to the other birders that Sedge Wrens were at Baker. I did head the wrong way on the trail, but turned out for the better as I got to see 6 fairly newly hatched Trumpeter Swans, a Chat, and the FOY Orchard Oriole.
I tried for Cerulean Warbler at Voorhees, but if it was there its was not vocal. That is a tough one as that was the only spot that I've been able to see one. Will have to see if I can't find one somewhere. Not very many spots for them around here.
Some other highlights since the last post are:
I managed to capture this Cooper's Hawk taking aim directly at me, when eyeballing some birds on the feeder. Tried a little Photoshop action sequence.
Good to see the Trumpeter Swan family at Baker. I'm hoping the report of only 3 cygnets later in the day on the 31st was just not being able to see the others. I only have pics of 5, but there was one that seemed to stay on the other side of an adult almost all the time.
Lastly the Robins decided to build a nest on a large wreath that is 10 feet from my back door, on the side of the house. We are constantly spooking up the bird off the nest. I thought for sure the eggs were not getting enough attention. Turns out they have at least hatched!! Hopefully the dogs won't disturb them too much.
I've now had 2 female Rusty Blackbirds this year with dark eyes. Crazy. Apparently they have dark eyes for a short time period after hatching, but by spring of the following year they should be bright.
The birding had been going outstanding through end of April. Both myself and the county overall was well ahead of any previous high pace. Until this past week. A consistently steady wind from the north, and intermittent showers has really slowed things down. So much so that I am now 4 birds behind my best pace, as well as the county overall. Nothing outstanding has shown up since the Stilt. Semipalmated Plover and Forster's Terns being the least likely.
The Plover is the last shorebird of note to show up to D DR S. It has been relatively quiet there with the same species from day to day. I have dipped on the Terns twice now. Maybe there will still be some chances if we get some more movement to come through.
The other birds of note that I was getting a little worried about were Gray-cheeked Thrush, Vesper Sparrow and Savannah Sparrow. Couldn't seem to be able to find these guys every time I tried. Enough trips to Woodland the Thrush turned up. Vesper and Savannah were found in the same spot, on a road I randomly turned down. The Vesper was up on the power line, and I assumed its as a Red-winged or Bluebird. When it flew down I saw the white tail feathers. I backed up, it was on a post, looked at me, sang once and then flew off. Purple Finch was also a bird I was worried about, but I managed to find one up in the trees of my yard, and then another out at the airport. Both females.
On 4/19 I had a very late cismontanus Junco. On 4/24 I was trying to find Brewer's Blackbirds and trying to snap some pics for candidates. Ran into yet another dark-eyed Rusty Blackbird. That would be the second one this year. Some early April records were Least Sandpipers at D DR S, Blackburnian Warbler and the Plover being firsts for April in the County.
I escaped Chaos for the first week in May and things were humming along until we hit a stalled cold front that kept winds out of the North for an extended period. 23 FOY birds from May 1 to May 4, then May 5-May 10 were only 1 FOY each day. Then Chaos hit me with biologics again and I've been limited to 2 FOY birds in the yard this past weekend 5/15-5/16. I quickly slipped behind my best pace and am in a position to have to try to make up a bunch in the fall. My goal of hitting 200 by end of May is shot at this point.
I did manage 2 more Yard Birds with a Northern Waterthrush and Lincoln's Sparrow on 5/6 and 5/14. Not entirely unexpected birds, but nice to finally find after all this time.
I never realized Sandhill Cranes had red hearts on their heads.
Plenty of early warblers all over the place
Some of the better shots I've been able to take of Blue-winged Warbler, Northern Parula x2, and American Redstart.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)