Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
Another weekend, another run to Homer for any oddballs that may show up. Plenty of geese continue, but was a bit harder to pick out the Cacklers in the concentrated groups that were present. The drive along the berm was packed from 1/2 way, until the North end of the drive. A l-o-t of birds ended up moving into the water. I was able to pick out at least 6 Cacklers between small group, and another group that flew in and landed close. Another bird was smaller, had a stubby bill, but was same size as nearby birds that were obviously not Cacklers. Either a Canada on the extremely small end of the bill size scale, or puts the other birds within discussion of parvipes.
I thought I had another Red-shouldered Hawk at a previous sighted location at 25 1/2 Mile Road, but it turned out to be the first abieticola of the Fall/Winter. Even with the unexplainably crappy pictures the extremely dark patagials, blobby belly-band (even though on the lighter side), rufous down the neck and underwing coverts, and completely dark head clicked off the boxes for this Northern subspecies of Red-tailed Hawk.
Duck Lake WTP had a checkmark quantity of Buffleheads with 117 I was able to count. A lone female Ring-necked Duck, and 5 Killdeer being the other "highlights" there. The big lake (Duck Lake) is the place the waterfowl are favoring for now. Mallard, Black Duck, Redheads, Lesser Scaup, Buffleheads, Common Goldeneye, Hooded and Common Mergs, Ruddy Ducks, Pied-billed and Horned Grebes along with a small contingent of Coots made up the vast majority of bird on the water there. The mirage played havoc with getting any long distance looks at anything.
At Lake of the Woods I had a lone American Black Duck mixed in with Mallards, but an unbelievable amount of Sandhills flying around North of there. I decided to drive over to 19.5 Mile Road between R and T DR N just to see if maybe an elusive Whooping Crane would show up. Hundreds of Cranes in the farmlands on both sides of 19.5 Mile Road were present and as I sat there I sighted out my front window an obviously white bird take off with a small group of Cranes. I snapped a couple of quick pics through the windshield and got out to track the bird. It looks like it was settling down North and East of where I was. I took a quick look at the preview pic and tempered my excitement. It lacked the black wingtips one would expect of a Whooping Crane. I drove farther up and found an easy 600 plus Cranes in more farm fields. After about 10 minutes of searching through the birds, from the other side of a small hill 6-7 birds took off and the white bird stuck out immediately. Definitely was not any trick of the light. A nearly all white Sandhill Crane, with a slightly orange bill, and washed out brown on the wingtips. One of these days a Whooping Crane will hookup with some birds heading into the Baker Sanctuary and be spotted.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)