Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
It took nearly 4 weeks but the Bio-warfare initiated as result of overwhelming Chaos has given way, just in time for Spring Migration. Quite a spectacular one even. The bulk of my birding in April ended up being "Big Yard" time. It puts me in great shape to top the 110 in a year as a high, even adding a new one in an Orchard Oriole.
As I was able to become less bio-hazard and more birder I was able to get back to the North Country Trail on May 5th. 57 species wasn't bad, but the warblers were few and far between. The cold and weather seemed to push things back a bit. Still this place is likely a future hot spot for the county. My Patch total for there and Bridges Park is at 81 species. Lower 2/3 of the hotspots in the county, but still has some promise for more.
Also on May 5th Dr. Kennedy alerted birders to some terns on Duck Lake. Turned out to be Forster's Terns. A week later I was able to find 2 Black Terns and about 9 other white terns on Duck Lake. Only there weren't 9 terns. As I observed a large flock of what I counted to be 35 terns fly over where the boat launch was, and head north. I managed some ID'able pics and they ended up being Common Terns. Crazy high number for this far inland. 13 Forster's Terns remained also.
On May 10th I decided to take a 1/2 day and see if I could try to play catch up. This turned in to probably the best day I have had birding around here. Really could have turned it in to a huge Big Day had I the whole day. Woodland Park was incredible. 80 species, with 23 warbler species. Not just the diversity, but the numbers. Cold weather have kept the leaves from being out as normal so looks were relatively easy. Over 100 warblers. I thought I didn't have any day close to this, but found on May 13th of 2018 I managed 22 warbler species. I still ended up missing a Hooded and Canada that were seen later that day. Hooded, still is a nemesis of mine as my one look was a very brief one. To top it all of what I initially thought to be a Chestnut-sided was a lifer Golden-winged Warbler. I saw it, dismissed it and then my brain kicked in and had to try to relocate it. Luckily the bird was noisy and eventually gave me some excellent looks at it. Pure bird, no hybrid mixed in. I did note that it had some yellow on its back, which Sibley guide says doesn't mean it is a hybrid. This made bird 236 for the county.
Since I started birding in late 2013 I've missed on 9 birds. Ruffed Grouse, Upland Sandpiper, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Lark Sparrow, Red-throated Loon, Connecticut Warbler, Least Bittern, and Common Redpoll (last "easy" one),
Saturday May 11th I managed to at least be able to go with the group I was originally supposed to lead at Fort Custer. Josh Haas thankfully was able to lead, as I wasn't sure I'd be up for it by then. I hit Woodland after that and it still had good numbers even for mid-afternoon. The next day, again at Woodland, I'm about 60% sure I saw Louisiana Waterthrush. I kicked up one bird and it was quite verbal with its alarm call. It wasn't even a quarter second look, and the alarm call was more LOWA than NOWA. But just not confident enough to call it. I didn't ever get it on recording. Still 18 warbler species wasn't too bad. Little was I to realize but this started off with another sizable "Big Day" for me. An odd Ruddy Duck at Duck Lake WTP, which turned out to be a female Surf Scoter that was a bit more white on the head than I'm used to, turned out to help push me to 100 species for the day. My second ever triple digits day. Within 10 days I managed 4 days over 80. Not bad when my previous Big Day highs, prior to 2018 was 81.
One of these "Big Days" was another 1/2 day on 5/15. I finally nabbed the Canada Warbler. Great looks, and listen to it. Blew the photos though. Philadelphia Vireos also made themselves known. One I wasn't expecting to be able to find as easy as it turned out.
It has felt good to be back out and seeing the birds. Some good birds have been seen this spring, but we really missed a lot of birds earlier this year that would normally keep a rolling 365 day count in between 215-220 birds. Hopefully some of those missed can be found when fall/winter starts coming around.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)