Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
I almost wasn't going to go out today, due to some heavy duty moving around of my office and studio, but the sunshine was just too tempting. We had a good dumping of rain yesterday, so I thought I would just try the flooded field on 23 Mile Road on my way to make the WTP rounds (Duck Lake, Homer and Tekonsha. White-rumped Sandpipers were still being reported North and South of here. I was surprised to see that the deeper pond, that 2 months ago had housed a Pied-billed Grebe and some Teal was now almost nonexistent. I could see some movement, and upon getting my scope on it I could see 5 Pectoral Sandpipers along with a few Killdeer. Not bad, but I decided to keep looking. Scanning North a little more I ran in to another Pectoral, and a slightly smaller Peep that had a promising profile to it. Long wings, black legs and not buffy like a Baird's Sandpiper. It was indeed a first for Calhoun County White-rumped Sandpiper!!! Finally after what seems like forever with these guys showing up all around, this little flooded field comes through one last time.
I decided to still check out Duck Lake and theWTP at Duck Lake. Duck Lake offered little besides a large group of American Coots. Upon arriving at the WTP I was pleasantly surprised by how far drawn down the water was on the East pond. I thought for sure there would be some more shorebirds present. Alas, it was not to be. Nothing by some Killdeer that flew out with some Starlings when I pulled in, and a handful hanging around the pond. I thought I was hearing and seeing some American Pipits but without my bins, and the bright backlit sun I was unable to get good looks. I caught one bird heading North towards the Farm Field, snapped a pic and turned out to be an American Pipit. Turned out to be a new bird for this location.
I decided to not hit up Homer, or Tekonsha, and headed back home. The Dunlin and White-rumped Sandpiper had disappeared about 15 minutes into the 20 minutes I was at 23 Mile Road, so I swung back by for another quick look. Nothing but the Pectorals and Killdeer were there. I now regret hitting up Homer as Tom Pavlik had 4 of the White-rumped Sandpipers there around the same time I would have arrived there. Dr. Dale Kennedy, later in the day, also had the first Snow Goose of the year for the county. The Snow Goose would have been a nice pickup for the year. Especially when I consider that last year at this time I was only 1 bird ahead of where I am at this year (it will be 2 birds tomorrow).
Just wanted a quick place to put this to confirm my initial thoughts. The first pic is from 8/2 (2nd day since first sighting) of the American Golden-Plover. The second pic is from August 15th. The third one is from August 21st (the last day it was sighted there).
Looks to me like it sure fattened up some over that, at least, 3 week time period it visited here. What a great opportunity to study a bird that we would not normally be able to see around here. I was able to see this bird 10 times over that 3 week time period, and honestly wish it could have been more.
It will be a long time before I forget the feeling of seeing that face looking back at me through the binoculars, and saying out loud (to only myself) "That's a Plover!!!". Shortly accompanied by the 5 minutes of ("terror") trying to relocate the bird with my camera. Having no experience with Plovers (I initially ID'd it as Black-bellied), I knew I would need to get some pics to figure this one out. Yes I am not that good..yet.
3 weeks of a great way to balance some intense chaos from other areas of Life.
I can't say I'm terribly surprised that the Plover finally left. It was noticeably "plumper" the last time I observed it, when compared to the first time. That along with the water level dropping at this location led to it seeming to be much quieter there today overall. Hopefully some rain tomorrow may bring some more birds in that are on their way South.
I was able to meet Curt Hofer and Scott Jennex today, and put some faces to names. A few other disappointed birders were there also, that unfortunately didn't get what we were all hoping to see.
Tomorrow is a new day...cannot wait to see what it brings.
This little flooded cow pasture has been pretty amazing for 3 weeks now. I'm working on a comprehensive list of the birds seen here, and individuals that have shown up to check it out. The American Golden-Plover continues still, and is visibly plumping up for its long migration to South America.
Starting to get a little ho-hum that the American Golden-Plover is still present at this Cow pasture. This location continues to provide excellent opportunities for viewing various shorebirds that really have very few other opportunities to settle in our county.
I had 9 shorebirds there today, including the Plover. Excellent looks at Least Sandpipers, and the above Lesser Yellowlegs and Solitary Sandpipers. A couple of Wilson's Snipe were hanging around, as well as Semipalmated and Pectoral Sandpipers. Just a couple of Greater Yellowlegs were present, and a plethora of Killdeer.
Morning at this location is perfect for getting some excellent soft light, if only I were a better photographer.
Still no new birds today, despite hitting up Duck Lake and Duck Lake WTP. The Great Egrets flying over Duck Lake, just could not be turned in to American White Pelicans. The WTP is relatively "dead" as the water level is just to high. There is not enough mud or shore showing to coax anything but Killdeer and a couple of Spotted Sandpipers in there. Hopefully we don't miss any of the Phalaropes that seem to be popping up in Michigan lately.
The first American Golden-Plover for Calhoun County continues for at least the 12th day now. This little flooded cow pasture in Lee Township has been outstanding for shorebirds the past 2 weeks.
Along with the Plover, the first record of Short-billed Dowitcher has been spotted at this same field.
Other shorebirds seen at this location are:
Not only the quantity of shorebirds has been overwhelming, but the opportunities for some decent photos of birds has been outstanding.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)