Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
Wow, no update in March. Says something about how much Chaos is playing in to things on the negative side, but also how much birding is actually getting done by me. February 21st I was sitting at 62 birds. It is now April 8th, and I am at 96 birds. I ended March, 19 birds ahead of my pace from 2014 (92 birds at end of March).
My first new bird after the 21st was some good looks at Lapland Longspurs just east of the Homer Water Treatment Plant.
Looooooooooots of common, although somewhat early birds followed after. Besides the Code 2 Longspurs, some other Code 2 birds included:
My next bird was my rarest bird found in the county so far. An eBird first record, but not a county first record. Also one of my biggest goofs in finding a bird. I was driving down P DR N, between 19 Mile and 21.5 Mile road (really liking this road). Seeing Robins and Horned Larks, when suddenly this larger very drab bird flew from the road up in to a lone tree alongside the road. It was bigger than the Horned Larks and immediately began to sing a song I was not familiar with. I flipped the camera to video to record the song, and the result is this incredibly horrible video. I profusely apologize for the sound of the auto-focus seeking.
After I was sure I had a recording, I flipped the camera back to take pics and kept trying to search for the bird in the tree. It suddenly bolted for the field, and I never got a focus lock on it. After trying to relocate it I set about trying to match the call. Looking at larger drab birds I though Mockingbird, but the lack of repeating 3 calls nixed that. I wasn't familiar with Northern Shrike calls, so I tried that (although the calm nature of the Red-winged Blackbird in the tree made that less likely). I took a chance on Western Meadowlark (lifer), and sure enough a near perfect match to the call on iBird app.
I have this bird ranking just behind Northern Goshawk as far as rarity. Unfortunately it was unable to be relocated by others that same day. Doesn't appear that it was one that decided to hang around. The Chaos shortly after that pretty much made it impossible for me to try to get there in the morning to check again for it. I've driven by the area several times since then, and tried to listen for it, but to no avail. Nice to finally get a really rare bird in the county this year, since we had been getting nothing but Code 1 and 2 showing up.
What's that I say, not many Code 3 or higher birds showing up? 2 days later Dr. Dale Kennedy e-mailed about a potential Ross's Goose (Code 4) at Duck Lake WTP. Was hoping we might get one to show up for the third year in a row. Sure enough I get there late that evening and there is a nice small all white Goose, with black wing-tips hanging out there. Downside is it had an obvious injury to its right leg.
Since the Ross's Goose it has been steady, but nothing spectacular. One bird that had eluded me I finally nabbed at Ott Preserve, Brown Creeper. Another bird I was worried about this year was a Vesper Sparrow at the Airport. I'm on the hunt for a Brewer's Blackbird around here somewhere. So I'm running across quite a few Rusty Blackbirds, and stinking dark-eyed Brown-headed Cowbird females that give me a glimmer of hope.
One positive for the snow coming down right now, if I get out in the morning the Blackbirds should be easier to find in the farm fields.
I have it in my head, that with my fast start, that maybe 200 is possible this year. I've gone through the list of potential birds I can find, and it is still a daunting task. I still need 104 birds to get there.
One last thing, in the past few weeks I've been able to co-guide 2 KBS Field Ornithology Field Trips as well as attend 2 Classes. 37 species in mid-March between the Airport, Hart's Lake and looking for the Peregrines downtown isn't bad. 42 species at the Bird Sanctuary, on a cold day was also excellent. My best looks at Red-headed Woodpecker, Lesser Scaup and Tundra Swans as well as the Mandarin Duck that is a resident there. I'm looking forward to future classes and Field Trips.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)