Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
After a few day of warm-up, melting of all the snow, and then a small storm and quick drop in temps I worked from home on Jan 12th. Occasionally checking the feeders I spotted 2 Pine Siskins at the nyjer seed feeder. They were there just briefly, and have yet to appear again. Nice pickup for early in the year, but about 12 days too late for last year's count.
After just feeder counting on the 13th I hit the road on the 14th. As I headed out I noticed a bird flying across a small farm field. It flapped continuously like a Crow, but seemed way too big. Shortly after it glided a bit, and the white tail and head started to appear. Nice way to start the day with a Bald Eagle. Reports of Red Crossbills in Jackson had me hoping that maybe we had a chance for some here. I checked Grever's out in the morning. Found yet another trail there I've never been on before. Overall it was relatively quiet there with only 10 species seen. However some Red-breasted Nuthatches were noisily calling in the pine trees. Nice to have a somewhat reliable spot for these birds nearby.
I drove around a few other of my familiar haunts around the R DR N/19.5 Mile Road area. I was hoping to find a Snow Bunting group that might have some Lapland Longspurs mixed in. No luck, but I did get some decent shots of another abieticola Red-tailed Hawk near 23 Mile Road and O DR N. O DR N also brought me FOY Mute Swan flying out over the field.
Having seen some open water at Bridges Park and 11 Mile Road, I checked 25.5 Mile Road and B DR N for waterfowl. Plenty of Canada Geese, Mallards and Common Goldeneyes. McClure Park had a FOY Common Merganser. Barnes Park had a much smaller area of open water, and only gave up a small group of Canada Geese. From there I hit up Whitehouse Nature Center. In recent weeks that area has had Common Redpoll (nemesis lifer for me), White-throated and White-crowned Sparrow, and a Hermit Thrush. I stalked the feeders for a bit, and spooked up over 200 Canada Geese that were on the river. Did manage to briefly spot the White-throated Sparrow. A short walk down the main trail and a bird moving around in the bush I initially passed off as another American Robin based on size and shape. A closer look as it turned toward me, and just as it started to call, I realized it was the Hermit Thrush.
All in all Whitehouse turned out very well for me with 23 species there. A Common Goldeneye with what initially looked like a very odd bill caused me to give it some closer looks. The head feathers flattened contributed to the bill looking much bigger than normal. In addition to the Hermit Thrush and White-throated Sparrow, I spotted FOY Great Blue Heron and American Robins. This put me at 42 birds for the month/year so far. High being 48 previously, and 2 more weekends to go I think I'll try to see if I can break 50 for January. The Hermit Thrush also put me at 32 birds for the day, tying my high for a day in January. Driving through downtown Albion I didn't manage a European Starling, to get above it. As I stopped for gas I yet again was unable to find one in a typically reliable spot. It was as I neared home that I spotted 5 of them in a tree near the train tracks. 33 birds for the day for my unintentional Big Day for January.
Maybe we will get some more water opened up before the end of the month so I can try to score some waterfowl. I probably need to hit up Kolb Park for Carolina Wren. See if I can nail the Peregrine Falcon downtown. After that Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Brown Creeper, and Trumpeter Swan are probably my best bet, outside of trying for some owls.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)