Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
They aren't really boring, but they have become very consistent birds for Homer since October 7th. I'm not completely convinced that there are a few different subspecies of Canada/Cackling there, but I've yet to get the banding information from the one bird. I'm definitely learning quite a bit about the two species.
Skipping Chaos on 11/13 I hit up Beadle Lake, which I neglect way too much, and found Tundra Swans and a group of 4 Trumpeter Swans. After checking Lee Lake, and a few other backroads I was heading down R DR S on my way to check 6 Mile Rd for Roughies. Just West of 8 Mile Road I heard quite the racket coming from the trees. I pulled over, got out and was greeted with the deafening calls of hundreds of Common Grackles. This spot was not far from the large group I had located previously, so I think this may be where they were roosting. I followed some of them to an open field where they were feeding, and was able to observe them doing some murmurations that sounded like thunder as they flew.
Not far from this spot I finally had my FOY Wilson's Snipes, with 2 in a small fluddle on 6 Mile Rd near U DR S. I finally got to the spot I wanted to be at for the Roughies, but found a large group of Ring-necked Pheasants. At least 3 males and 8 female/juveniles were right near the Branch County border.
Homer had the continuing Cacklers, a flyover of 28 Tundra Swans to go with the 2 on the large lagoon. Duck Lake WTP also gave up a pair of Wilson's Snipes and a tagged high count of 160 Buffleheads and 9 Killdeers. Duck Lake had an interesting Merganser group. Usually the Red-breasted and Common Mergansers I've seen are in their own separate groups. This was a very tight group of 2 of each. I was still unable to refine the dilute plumage Sandhill Crane (probably a better description than leucistic).
November 18th Duck Lake finally gave up a good bird this year. It is going to have to give up a few more I think if we are going to get to 220 Calhoun birds for the year. There was a Long-tailed Duck relatively close to the South shore diving for extremely long periods. 3rd time in the last 4 years we have had Long-tailed Ducks show up in the county. The next day Beadle Lake gave up a pair of them but not for long. They quickly disappeared as I tried to find them again around a large tree. I did manage some ID'able pics. Wish they would have stuck around longer. That gave me bird number 159 for Emmett Township (barring anything popping up from a location I don't have listed in that patch yet). There was also a large flyover of 75 Tundra Swans there.
November 20th I thought I'd give Grever's and Baker's a chance, seeing as how they are a couple of the few locations which I'd have any hopes of seeing Red Crossbills that seem to be moving through the Great Lakes region. Both locations were relatively quiet. Baker had a late Song Sparrow, and 2 juvenile Bald Eagles along with an adult. I missed some excellent photo opportunities of a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk dive bombing one of the juvie Eagles.
The days prior to Thanksgiving started to see multiple reports from Southern Michigan locations of Snowy Owls, including Kalamazoo Airport. I decided to hit up the Airport in BC, with no such luck. In fact most places I tried on Thanksgiving had very little to offer. The Cacklers continued at Homer, along with a couple of very small "Canada", or maybe some sort of hybrid. One juvenile bird was maybe 10% bigger than the larger Cacklers in the group. That along with the narrow sharp tip bill could make it a candidate for parvipes. There also continued a few Canada Geese sporting partial of full white collars around their neck. Unfortunately I couldn't locate the banded bird while they were close by on the main road. For 11/24, it was rinse and repeat, except with some pics I'm pretty happy with of Cackling and Canada Geese in flight. Other than surprise sighting of 6 Turkey Vultures today was extremely quiet. Duck Lake was impossible to see much of anything with the warmer weather, the mirage was a disaster. White blobs and brown blobs were aplenty.
Long-tailed Duck helped push the count to 216 for Calhoun overall this year. Still need 4 more to go. Hopefully at some point we get some combination of 4 of the following:
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)