Birding in Calhoun County and beyond
I started up with some Marsh studies along Pine Creek/Nottawa Creek on June 3rd. I've not had much luck with marsh birds while birding in Calhoun. American Bittern, Least Bittern, or even a hopeful King Rail would be hopeful to nice to nab around here. I was to have no such luck with my 3 stops over around a 2 hour time period. Someday I'll chance upon at least 2 of the 3 of those birds. The Pine Creek Wetlands continue to be a host for nesting Barn Swallows under the bridge there.
June 4th I decided to try for Dickcissel at Q DR S and 1.5 Mile Road. It was probably a little early for them. Had my hopes there when I saw a small Heron mixed into the dead corn stalks, in a little fluddle. Turned out to just be a Green Heron. A Spotted Sandpiper was nearby. Beyond that there was little of note at this spot. The highlight would be I finally had a less than comfortable interaction with a "local". A little interrogation from a nearby resident. Very odd. Usually someone stops and asks if "everything (is) okay", or "you all right?". Not "What are you doing?.
Late on June 8th came a report of a White-eyed Vireo at Whitehouse by Kiehl Smith. I headed that way on June 9th, stopping at Sunset Hill Drive to again try for Dickcissel. Hugely disappointing as they grass had all been cut down there. The White-eyed Vireo did not reappear at Whitehouse. The highlight was a breeding pair of Yellow-bellied Sapsucker right at the beginning of the trails. According to the range maps their breeding range would normally be around the middle of the state and North. So just a little farther South than normal. The Michigan Breeding Bird Atlas shows how rare they are to be birding this far South in the state.
Daniel Toronto and I decided to try for Eastern Whip-poor-wills at Hart's Lake that same night. With all the construction there it was apparently not meant to be. I imagine the huge tract of woods taken down, and the running of large machinery during the day is not conducive to night birds being able to rest. One very faint Great Horned Owl, an agitated Killdeer and a couple of Sandhill Cranes was all there was. We were back there again on the 11th after a sighting at Fort Custer SRA. Again it was not meant to be. The highlight being a Chimney Swift as a new bird for this hotspot. An out of Calhoun highlight was a Dickcissel calling when I pulled in to work on the 14th.
June 17th I decided to spend the morning running around the area, with targets of Dickcissel and Sedge Wren. Dr. Dale Kennedy had found Dickcissel on 23.5 Mile Road down near Home. I hit up Fairview Cemetery/ Homer Sewage Ponds first thing in the morning, as it was nearby. A not quite fully molted into adult plumage Bald Eagle was on the lower ponds. Other than that nothing too impressive. Hopefully the water level keeps dropping over the next 6 weeks for some shorebirds to show up.
The Dickcissel was easy enough to find after that. Right off the road one was on a wire singing loudly. Next up trying to locate a Sedge Wren. Around this time last year I had them on L DR N, so I headed straight to that spot. Just as easy as the Dickcissel a Sedge Wren was singing loudly right near the road. It popped up occasionally, but was still hiding behind other tall grass. I had to try to shoot in a manual focus mode. Not too bad of shots for what I was dealing with.
I tried for more at 24 Mile Road. It was a great spot there, and then driving down O DR N. 28 Birds within a mile, wasn't too bad for middle of June. Yellow-throated Vireo and Warbling Vireo, along with Willow Flycatcher. Next up was one of my favorite spots, 23 Mile Road and O DR N. Turns out there is quite the irruption of Dickcissels this year. I had 3 at the 23 Mile Road site in the morning. This time there was a minimum of 8 birds just within the "normal" area I bird there. Great looks with the top down on the Jeep. Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlark were also there. I'm going to try to work on more videos when it makes sense. This Dickcissel singing in the tree was that perfect opportunity. Just wish I had some smaller option than the top of the Jeep to rest the camera on.
To top this off after my time there, I drove further down O DR N and had another 8 Dickcissels singing as I drove down there. 19 Dickcissels in one day, not bad at all. Later that day I managed to get back out to D DR S Wetlands. I wanted to check to see if this location would get low enough water level to be shorebird habitat in late July or early August. It showed some promise. The water level was definitely down, but the grass there is fairly high. It has some potential if it drops some more. We shall see. Shorebirds would be another type of bird that could help to push me up over 230 birds. Next up an arm-chair shorebird that gets me one step closer.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)