Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
Not much birding since the last update due to the C-H-A-O-S. I did get the first somewhat "feeding frenzy" of warblers at Woodland Park on the 16th. 11 Warblers, with most of them in a few trees near the large open field. Blue-winged Warbler tagged as rare for this time of the year. Wilson's Warbler and Northern Parula were birds 183 and 184 for the year. Tennessee, Orange-crowned, Nashville, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Magnolia, Bay-breasted and Black-throated Green rounded out the Warblermania.
The Airport didn't offer up much, other than a Cooper's Hawk and Red-tailed Hawk having a brief dispute in the air. Being mid-September there still should be opportunities for shorebirds, so I headed to Homer. High counts of Canada Geese continued with 318 there. Killdeer were still gathering in high numbers as I counted a minimum of 78 there. One nice surprise was the first American Golden-Plover to be found there. It took quite a bit of checking out pictures to rule out Black-bellied Plover, which I hoped for. My pictures weren't great, but definitely pointed in the right direction. The horrible mirage didn't help.
Because of that mirage I headed back there the next morning and located the Plover. It flew, and I blew getting a look at it. Ideally seeing it in flight would clinch it, but I did hear it call as it flew and it didn't sound like the Black-bellied Plover. I was unable to locate it, until 15-20 minutes of searching around. The cooler weather allowed for some much better pictures also that made it clear this bird was the American, not the Black-bellied. What I did not expect after reviewing the pictures was seeing that the first bird was different from the bird I had seen the previous day, and would see later that day. This bird had significant black on its chest making it an adult molting out of breeding plumage.
My secondary activity bore quite the fruit on the morning of the 23rd. Letting my dogs out in the morning I came across a borer moth on the side of the house. After a little bit of timing looking through the Field Guide I identified it as a Golden Borer. The Field Guide identified it as Uncommon. I wasn't able to find out too much about it online, but did find that it is a species of concern in Michigan. I filled out a form with the Michigan Natural Features Inventory. There were very few reports of this month in Michigan. MNFI only showed in 4 counties. It was the first report of this species on all of iNaturalist. I also noticed this white winged "fly" and finally decided to ask for some ID help on Whatbird.com. I was informed it was a euklastus harti, a type of plant hopper. It was the first report on BugGuide.net for Michigan. I've seen quite a few of them this summer/fall. Very odd looking bug.
Decided to do a proper fall route and hit up Woodland Park in the morning of the 8th. I have a rule that I never seem to follow: if the Parking lot area is busy, stay there. Well the Parking lot area was busy, so I thought it would be even better back farther into the park. It wasn't. I had Tennessee, Nashville, FOY Bay-breasted, Black-and-white and Common Yellowthroat within the first few minutes. Beyond that I snagged and Ovenbird, and a FOY Swainson's Thrush. The water level was horribly low back near the footbridge, with barely a trickle of water going under it. I thought I had an outside shot at 40 birds there, but it dried up as quick as the water seemed to. A Great Egret was a new one for me there though.
After 2 hours there I hit up the airport, where it seemed like could be some decent shorebird spotting. Just Killdeer. Not really much else there. I then made the trek to Homer in hopes that it still might pay off. A Least and Semipalmated Sandpiper were joined by a Lesser Yellowlegs as the non-Killdeer shorebirds there. The Least was still very rufous, and the Semipalmated was very drab grey. The mirage played havoc with the photos, and I tried to make it into a Sanderling as dull as it was, but it was way too close in size to the Least. 189 Canada Geese showed there are still gathering in some decent sized numbers now. The extremely skittish Bald Eagle was there along the edge of the North-western lagoon.
I received an alert on my phone that the KP index was increased and to check for Aurora. I tried the app, and several sites and never got a good feel of it we should, or should not, be able to see the Northern lights. I drove out to P DR S between 19.5 and 21 Mile Road to see what I could see. Shortly after dark a FOY Eastern Screech-Owl gave its trilly call, and I heard several more birds flying overhead while I was out there. I didn't see any Northern Lights, and the gigantic Moon that rose didn't help I'm sure. I tallied 4 satellites, 1 shooting star, and 1 very weird "something". Very slow moving object, slower than the other satellites I had seen, moved from the NE heading slightly South and to the West. There was a very brief flash in front of it, like a shooting star, but quicker, and then the object disappeared. I assume it was a satellite that just lost the reflection from the Sun. Although it was heading towards the Sun.
I played around with my camera and 18-55mm Kit lens and managed to snag a few shots of the sky, and Milky Way. So add to the Amazon Wish List a wider angle, faster lens now and some time on the calendar when the Moon is not out. You can see a satellite in the last picture, compare it to the planes moving through the third one.
Here are a few other photos taken recently while looking for Moths, which I will get gathered together on a page(s) at some point.
After the high of July, August quickly sucked the energy out of any hopes for a good start to the Fall season. I had extremely high hopes for the O DR N pond, and it started out like it could be promising. On August 5th I had 36 species there including 9 Least Sandpipers, 11 Solitary Sandpipers and 2 Lesser Yellowlegs. I thought a good start, and should pick up from there. Duck Lake WTP remained very overgrown with weeds along the edge. Homer had nothing on this day, except an unusually high number of Canada Geese. A trend I would continue to see the rest of the month. I counted 364 Canada Geese gathered there. Something I wouldn't expect to see this early in the season. eBird bears this out also. The high spike the week of 8/1 is the 364, with a 387 reported the week of 9/1 being the exception to lower number until October.
On August 17th the O DR N pond gave me a FOY Semipalmated Sandpiper, after a false alarm on the 5th. Least Sandpipers at 11, and Solitary Sandpipers at 7 still gave me some hope. A single Lesser Yellowlegs was concerning. I would expect to see more Yellowlegs if this was going to be a good spot for some rarities. I managed quick looks at a couple of late Dickcissels at 23 Mile Road and O DR N. Latest one on eBirds for the county.
August 19th O DR N pond still had 7 Least Sandpipers, and 6 Solitary Sandpipers, but only the single Lesser Yellowlegs still. The WTPs still had nothing of promise, and I checked the D DR S Wetlands, to find them will overgrown. The highlight here being the Pied-billed Grebe that looked like it had been on a nest, most definitely was. There were 4 young Grebes to join the the other juveniles that had been seen previously.
August 26th I was nearly shut out of any shorebirds at O DR N Pond, but for a lone Killdeer that flew in as I left. It must have strayed from the tilled farm field on 24 Mile Road where I counted a minimum of 61 Killdeer. I finally got a rare shorebird at Homer on this day, with a Baird's Sandpiper joining 24 Killdeer there. I spotted it well across the West lagoon, and could tell it might be something "different". It finally showed up in the North-East corner to get some ID'able pictures. I went back on the 27th, and was unable to find it there. The only non-Killdeer birds were 2 Greater Yellowlegs that flew off.
The large numbers of Canada Geese continued with 216 Canada Geese on September 3rd at Duck Lake WTP. A Double-crested Cormorant there gave me bird #99 for the Duck lake WTP. There still was a very definite lack of shorebirds to be found in the area. I had hopes that something good might shows up. Especially as the following birds showed up nearby over the last month.
August did give me some excellent photographic opportunities, with some of the best photos I've managed, including one of the "new interest".
Lastly, and this will likely lead to a new section of this website, likely the best picture I have ever taken....so far. Moths have quickly become a fascination with me. Partly to overcome the dog days of summer with birds, and the fact I can go outside my door not more than 50 feet and see a vast array of species.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)