Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
I will get something posted tomorrow with some catch-up stuff as this has been a great year so far. What could make this great start to the year even better? How about mis-identifying the rarest bird I have ever found!!! I was looking for waterfowl on the Kalamazoo River and drove past a pull-off spot and thought "Nah, I'll just drive down Jackson and see if anything worth stopping for". There were a ton of birds, so I turned back around and found the snow-filled pull off parking just East of Bedford Road. As I sat there trying to spy what was on the river, this gull came flying into view. I thought "Wow a Bonaparte's Gull in February, that is rare". I got some decent wing pics showing a decent "M" on the back and searched in the app to make sure it wasn't a Little Gull (it didn't look little). When I searched I only put in "Gull", so that was all that came up. The dark collar bothered me a little, but I thought maybe it was still holding onto it. Also the Sibley app shows the dark secondaries, but the adults don't have it, so again I figured maybe it was molt timing or something. I emailed the local birders also to let them know and reported it on eBird.
Once I got home and started looking at the pics, something just didn't seem right with it as a BOGU. I had some pics that had parts of the legs showing and they were not the Orange/Pink legs, but were very dark. As I flipped through my physical Sibley's book there it was. Juvenile/1st winter Black-legged Kittiwake with a dark collar, black legs and the "M" on the back. I posted to what bird, and e-mailed the group "What about Kittiwake?", and got confirmations. Completely blown away by this find. Bird would have never been on my radar!
This is by far the rarest bird I have ever found. In fact it may be the farthest inland one of these has been in Michigan. There is a report near Mt. Pleasant and east of Flint that are pretty close to "fingertips on computer screen" distance. It is a lifer, it is a County first, and it was number 64 for the year. Already ahead of my best pace through end of February.
I partially have Hercules to thank for this as I thought he deserved to get out of the Jeep and walk the river. Even though he had just had a great time playing in the snowbanks at the airport.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)