[Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
I finally got an extended break from Chaos this past week. Maybe too late to pick up Wilson's Warbler for the year, but has been my best September so far. August was the worst I've seen Chaos be in a long time. August only saw 59 species. Not my lowest for that month, but second lowest. I got out 3 whole times in August, outside of my yard to bird. Absolutely pathetic as Chaos was a constant drain during the week.
September has been another story though. It started on 9/2 with a female/immature Black-throated Blue Warbler being seen right out on the remnants of the old deck and its overgrowth. The 3rd brought a chance for me to run to Albion to find 2 of the 4 Common Gallinules that had been reported there. I was not going to count on Cranefest being open this year to try for them. I missed out on a Common Nighthawk seen by Dr. Dale Kennedy that same night nearby. Still have not seen one this year, and I have maybe a week left to try to get one.
The 4th, official first day off, Fairview Cemetery/Homer WTP gave up FOY Semipalmated Sandpiper standing on the algae blanket. Shorebirds were not looking promising as Duck Lake WTP is overgrown on the edge, as is Homer. Very little edge. But more on that later. Homer also gave up a ridiculous amount of Turkey Vultures with 224 counted. This was well after other flights have moved through I had counted. It also gave up flagged 3 juvenile Purple Martins. I didn't know they would flag, so only nabbed a pic of 1. After getting back home I had another FOY in Bay-breasted Warbler.
Sunday morning the 5th gave up 3 more FOY at Woodland Park!!! Amy Lysski gave me a heads up on Olive-sided Flycatcher. I ended up with at least 2 of them there, and maybe a 3rd bird was present also. This was after getting FOY Philadelphia Vireo. At the end of a decent, but not great day as I was walking back to the Jeep I ran into a Canada Warbler feeding right on some branches over the trail. This was what I thought would be the hardest bird to get as Canada Warblers are so hit and miss. Also a late flyover for Eastern Kingbird was noted.
As I was leaving Woodland Amy Lysski sent word to everyone "Shorebirds" at D DR S. I was going to head to the airport, but decided Shorebirds might be a better thing to sort through. One can only take some much of War-"blurs" hiding behind leaves. Nothing too exciting there, but another definitive very light Semipalmated Sandpiper and another late Eastern Kingbird.
The 6th at Woodland brought another Canada Warbler and a 53 species day, so not too terrible, but no FOY. D DR S mixed in some Pectoral Sandpipers to what was seen previous day.
Chaos has drained me so much that it is hard for me to get up and going to early in the morning. So by the time I felt like going anywhere on the 9th it was very late in the morning. I had to run and get blood drawn for annual physical so decided to keep the fast going and just run to D DR S since it was only a few miles away. Hugely fortuitous of me. I came across a bird that really struck me as a Pectoral Sandpiper that looked like some odd leucism on its neck. It also just didn't seem to move the same while feeding as a Pectoral. Finally got a look at the other side and it has the same light patch on its neck. Now this was not just a coincidence. It showed a nice dark "V" on its chest and the bill looked really short. I started to try to run through possibilities and came up with Ruddy Turnstone. Holy crap a Ruddy Turnstone wasn't even on my radar for a target bird for the county ever!!! It was a juvenile Ruddy Turnstone with a really light head. As I pulled into D DR S I had a feeling we would still pick up another County first before the end of the year. I wasn't thinking it would be in the next 10 minutes though. Really a great bird to find here. Unfortunately only Karen Kolbasa got to see it about 5 hours later and a Hawk spooked it up so it was missed by others. I almost went right past that bird thinking it was just a weird Pec.
A couple of trips for Nighthawks last week to the airport and Brooks didn't pay off. One trip to Brooks was with Hercules, and he is just not a bird dog. It was great to be back out with him, but not when trying to search for warblers or the White-eyed Vireos that are apparently still there. The first trip to Brooks did at least pay off with a Merlin flyover which was a nice bird to see.
Back at Woodland on the 10th they finally decided to mow while I was there, so it was not the most enjoyable time. It did give me my first audio and FOY Broad-winged Hawk. A nice light juvenile treated me to a couple of calls and some good looks before getting spooked off by the mower. This put me at 202 for the year and 9 FOY birds in September. Well above the highest I have had at this time of the year. Normally that might not be a good thing, but I am 3 ahead of my best pace now due to that. Still some more birds I can try to pick up. Looking for a Hooded Warbler and Orange-crowned Warbler. There are only 10 birds reported in September in the County that I don't have for the year yet. No luck on the 12th, this morning, but I did get my best looks ever at a Philadelphia Vireo.
I am going to try to make a concerted effort to keep getting out on the weekend. It helps to get my mind away from the Chaos, and I really need that now. There is no balance, and it feels like there is nothing on the other end to even try to get that end lifted off the ground to get to balance. Need to keep pushing to get out and maybe it will pay off with some more birds this year. The county is at 217, and 218 is our highest ever so really want to get us over 220 that we just can't seem to get to. Lots of Duck Lake birds to still try to get this fall/winter.
My very rough shots of the County first Ruddy Turnstone
Best looks at a Philadelphia Vireo
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)