Birding in Calhoun County and beyond
Winter has finally arrived, and it arrived quickly. 2 years ago the entire large lagoon at Homer was completely open and Duck Lake had zero ice on it. Last year, we had barely a dusting on the ground and more open water at both. On Wednesday 12/14 I went to Duck Lake, and there was hardly any birds 50-100 feet of ice around the edges. A little more than 24 hours later, it was completely frozen over. No gulls in sight. Just geese, with even more flying over and continuing on. A huge hit to me snagging some additional gulls or waterfowl.
This was the case as I went out today also. Kalamazoo River is frozen over, except in a few fast flowing spots. Lee Lake had some very small parts of open water, and a large congregation of birds, including a Snow Goose. Probably now limited to just looking for owls, or hoping the Kalamazoo County Nothern Shrike moves East some.
I did the Battle Creek CBC on 12/17. I was completely shut out of owls in the morning. I went all over my area, and there were plenty of excellent spots. Just nothing was to be found out there. It was still an excellent day out. 2 Hermit Thrushs flagged as rare for this time of the year. A Red-shouldered Hawk was also a nice find for the day. Those two and a Hairy Woodpecker brought my December total up to 65.
I decided to make a run around the River to see what spots still had open water. My best bet for large body of water to be open would be at Stuart's Landing. Not to be. It was completely frozen over. It really was a very sparse bird day in most places I looked. B DR N at 25 1/2 Mile Road was packed with Mallards and Canada Geese, and a few American Black Ducks mixed in. I made the trek down to Homer (iced over), and then along the southern section of the county. I hoped the Rough-legged Hawks had found there way to the farm field they show up to every year along the Branch/Calhoun border near 6 Mile Road. No luck there, but about a mile north I found a stunning dark Rough-legged Hawk. Really wished I would have had a chance to shut off the Jeep to get some smoother shots. Not far North of the Roughie I had a Cooper's Hawk in a small tree. Both new birds for this December (67). I have a shot to hit 70. Hopefully those 3 are new for the year birds also
Not a bad raptor day as I also had a couple of American Kestrels, some Red-tailed Hawks and a Bald Eagle flew down the River at B DR N and 25 1/2 Mile Road. The Snow Goose at Lee Lake, and some Redheads and Tundra Swans finished off the traveling around day. If 206 is what I end up with, I can live with that. Well above my expectations.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)