Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
Christmas Day brought on the final Yard bird for the year, a stinking House Sparrow. Luckily I've only had them show up a handful of times, and this one hasn't been regular since. This put me at 132 for the year. I decided to venture out on Christmas Day also. Duck Lake gave me views of the juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull and White-winged Scoter that have been there. The 27th gave me final bird of the year, Northern Shrike finally made itself visible. I dragged my puppy out with me and he has been a great birding companion for the most part. We shall see if he gets better at it.
Also on the 27th was the largest group of Geese and Mallards I think I've ever seen. Highest counts in the county with 1000 Canada Geese (at least), and 984 Mallards. Froze my butt off counting the Mallards, wasn't going to count the Geese even by 10's.
January 1st we went out wanting to try to find the Redpolls again. Not sure yet if I am going to try for another Big Year or not. I'd like to see a few more birds, so I might look at hitting Michigan Top 100. I figure that would take around 250 birds. A trip or two up north would help, but it would still come down to trips to see one or two birds. Also potential goal is 300 life birds in Michigan. Same issue as Top 100 though. We shall see.
Back to the Redpolls. They were not there. There was a Merlin not 100 yards away from where they were at previously. It was certainly not helping things.
Lee Lake had 54 Trumpeter Swans, and 1 Tundra Swan mixed in. I had dipped on Tundra in 2020. I drove around some of the South end of the County trying to find some Redpolls, with no luck. I did still end up with 28 species that day. My best Jan 1st in the county.
The 2nd we again went out. Duck Lake had very little open water, but enough to still have 1 White-winged Scoter there. I also had reports that Snow Goose was still at Barnes Park. I went there, and the Goose was not there. I checked Dr. Kennedy's checklist from earlier and I think she reported 600 geese, whereas I had only 40 or so. I decided to wait it out as there were flights coming in. It took about 30 minutes but eventually an immature Snow Goose showed up and gave me great looks. I also finally got a look at the Snow Bunting flock on B DR N that I had missed at least 3 other times. A great experience as this flock of at least 210 birds flew right over my head very close. These birds helped contribute to a new high for January Day for me of 40 birds. It also put me at 46 birds for the month. 2 days in and I am 3 short of my best January of 49.
January 3rd, rinse and repeat. A Cooper's hawk on F DR N was a FOY. We hit up Baker Sanctuary seeing if maybe the weeds there had some Redpolls. They didn't. It was very quiet except for migrating geese overhead. As we started to end the trip I heard another flock coming from behind the trees. Mixed in were some higher pitched calls, and sure enough a couple of Cackling Geese were mixed in. The Shrike gave me my best looks ever as it was perched on a bush right next to the road. I managed some video of it also. Finally a pair of Bald Eagles made it an even 50 so far for the year. Not a bad start if I decide to keep the focus here. Would be really nice to get the whole county to 220. Definitely need some shorebird habitat to pop up.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)