Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
Still can't believe what I contribute to Divine Providence with the Kittiwake sighting from last week. It looks like this is the 4th inland record in Michigan, and just slightly the farthest inland at 53 miles. The other inland sightings are Coldwater Lake in Isabella County 50 Miles away from Saginaw Bay, and the 2 sightings at Holloway Reservoir In Genesee were 34 miles away from Saginaw Bay. I thought it was a review species, but it wasn't. However I may be able to partially check off that bucket list item of self-found review species. The 2016 sighting in Isabella the MBRC reviewed due to how far inland it was. It looks like it might only be the 4th February sightings for the state also. I will have to take some time and do up the review paperwork.
The year has been going great on its own, regardless of the BLKI. I blew away my January best start of 49 birds, with 62. One less than my previous best pace through the end of February. I sit at 69 birds now 1/2 through February. Still not tops in the county. I think the discussion of Big Year, and what the high number was has pushed some people to try for it. It really sucks having to try to cram it all in on the weekends, as Chaos rules during the week...and even then some on the weekends.
Finally was able to find a Rough-legged Hawk on the 23rd, and the Lapland Longspurs availed themselves on B DR N on the 24th. Northern Harrier and Wild Turkey rounded out the high for January. Along with the Kittiwake on the 6th, I had FOY Buffleheads and then Gadwall at McClure Park on the 7th (found by Dr. Dale Kennedy). Chris Peet found a female Long-tailed Duck on the Kalamazoo River off Jackson St. on the 12th. I was able to head out there on the 13th. Dipped on the LTDU, but found FOY Redhead. Very frustrating as Chaos intervened in the morning, so when I finally got out there traffic didn't allow much stop and search on Jackson St. A feeder on 19 Mile Road gave me a bunch of FOY Red-winged Blackbirds. I headed back out prior to more Chaos on the 14th, and Hercules and I did almost a mile hike on the snow covered trail to finally locate the LTDU. An early Ruby-crowned Kinglet at the Jackson St. pull-off was a nice add for the year also. The 14th ended up being so good I managed a new February Big Day high of 40 birds. I thought I would have to head out to try for more, but the feeders provided all I needed.
I keep dipping on the Red-shouldered Hawk at Duck Lake. Every time I go the parking lot is packed with ice fisherman, so I have got to try to get out there during the week somehow. This bird is probably my biggest worry about missing on for the year, of those located so far. Another frustrating dip has been trying to find a Hoary Redpoll. I'm sure I've found one, but no photos showing the rump or undertails of the candidates so far. Flocks continue to be hard to find, and they don't stay for very long. These two are the best candidates so far for Hoary, with the first one I'm 75% sure of.
Some other highlights were a large quantity of Trumpeter Swans at Lee Lake still, 77 was the high count on 1/23. 1-2 Oregon Junco are still showing up at my feeders, still no cismontanus though this winter. A small Redpoll flock on 23 Mile Road let me have some good looks at them. Took a while but the feeders have started to attract the accipiters. I don't think I have had as many as last year, but they are giving me some good looks. A Sharpie landed on the feeders and I was able to watch it try to find something to go after. A Coop landed on them also one day, then I watched it try to chase after something in my large juniper tree. Today I found a couple of nice big mixed flocks of Longspurs, Horned Larks and a handful of Snow Buntings mixed in. I saw one Snow Bunting that was really close to breeding plumage. Likely as close as I'll ever see one.
We are just under 90 birds so far, well ahead of any previous pace for the county. Really a great start all around Hopefully the momentum picks up. 2021 hasn't been much more fun than 2020, so who knows what will happen. A few things I need to get done this week are updating the Michigan Listers data. I forgot to do it last year, but I have my spreadsheet all set to pull all that information together. Something I don't think I had in a previous post was some photos were obtained of the Smew, once it showed up in Allegan. The bird had a steel band on it left leg, but also didn't look like it had its rear toe clipped. So we shall see what the MBRC ends up saying about it. Fingers crossed.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)