[Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
After my whining on October 1st about what to see next, I still headed out on October 2nd. I intended to hit up some of the Pine Creek Marshlands for some Nelson's Sparrows. There were plenty of Swamp Sparrows and Song Sparrows that responded to the Nelson's calls, but no luck. I hit up 3 1/2 Mile Road where Pine Creek crosses it first. Not much of note there, besides the aforementioned sparrows and a Belted Kingfisher. I then hit it up at S DR S, with nothing at all of note there. I then swung back up to Q DR S and 1 1/2 Mile Road. I remember a small marsh there, and figured what the heck. I was not prepared for what I found.
Down the dirt road at the point where the marsh was, the trees were filled with Starlings, Common Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, Rusty Blackbirds and what I submitted as Brewer's Blackbirds. It was so loud it made no sense to even try to do playback for the Nelson's there. I just focused on the Blackbirds. As I was looking around to see what I could spot, I kept hearing what sounded like distant thunder. I looked at my weather app radar, and only saw some small rain clouds South of me. I finally realized that it was huge flocks of birds taking off repeatedly that was making the sound!!! I reported 600 Starlings and 200 Red-winged Blackbirds. I am probably 1/2 what it actually was. I also caught a late Bay-breasted Warbler at this spot.
After this I went to the 1/2 Mile and Marl Lake Road Hotspots (Pine Creek Wetlands), to try yet again for Nelson's. Not a bad tally of birds there, but again Song and Swamp Sparrows in abundance. My next stop was going to be 6 Mile Road, but I turned around and headed back along S County Line Dr, to West County Line Road. I thought I would check the cornfields for American Pipits. Turned out to be somewhat fortuitous, but not for my target bird. Excellent flocks of Yellow-rumped Warbler and Palm Warblers flying from corn fields to trees and back. More activity than I have seen most of the Fall. Some Savannah Sparrows showed up along with a lone Rusty Blackbird. Also a migrating Broad-winged Hawk appeared well overhead. My first experience with Fall Juvenile Indigo Buntings. I honestly dismissed them as House Sparrows, as they were fairly plain looking. More looks at the pictures convinced me to ask for some confirmations. Turned what I thought would be a quick 5 minute detour into nearly 50 minutes.
6 Mile Road didn't produce anything of note. Most of the corn fields still have corn in them, so trying to catch American Pipits there is difficult right now. I decided to take some back roads on the way home just in case, and swing by Lee Lake. Nothing panned out as the fields continued to be still full of corn. The Creek under 10 Mile Road produced nothing either (again looking for Nelson's potentially). As I pulled up to G DR S (this is the part about why I love birding in my Jeep) at the stop sign I look up and see a Turkey Vulture. I see to the North and East, and much higher, another shape circling around in the sky. I put my camera too it and, for the first time, see the telltale pale "commas" on the wings of a Red-shouldered Hawk!!! #201 for the year!! Even better, now I won't have to be freezing my butt off trying to find one this winter. I'll just be freezing my butt off trying to find something different. Luck, timing and being out there to be at the right place is 1/2 the battle.
I quickly lost sight of him as I tried to follow him East from there. That was the signal for me to shut it down and head back to the house. A quick swing down 10.5 Mile Road, again for Pipits, turned up more full corn fields, along with a nice look at a Lincoln's Sparrow. Nothing else much exciting. While I don't have a list of birds seen from out the top of the Jeep, I'll always believe it is the best vehicle, at least for my style of birding.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)