[Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
Doesn't feel like over a month since last post, but there has been quite a bit that happened in the past month. Still running behind last years pace. Not sure it is entirely lack of effort on my parts. Last year by end of March there were 127 species seen in the county. This year, only 117 at end of March. I think that may be the case for most of the state, with the crazy weather we have had. If we had 127 species this year, we would be around 7th in the state.
March 2nd I may have had a Red-shouldered Hawk flyover the house. The bird was moving so fast, and in a tuck I couldn't count it. I continue to see occasionally white-winged variants of the Slate-colored Junco. Feels like it might be more than 1 out of every 200, as I seem to get at least one every year. On March 10th an e-mail came out from Christopher Peet that a Snowy Owl was at the airport. I booked out there at lunchtime and drove to E Airport Road to see if it may have moved. After not seeing anything there, I went over to S Airport Road where it had been seen. After driving up the road and seeing nothing I turned back around, and just happened to notice a rounded top of a small snow pile. Sure enough this Owl had found a very small snow pile to hide from the crows. It has been a long wait to get another Snowy in the county.
On March 12th I caught a quick glimpse of a Cooper's Hawk going after some feeder birds. The birds came right towards the picture window, and up over the roof. I'd heard recently about Cooper's Hawks having learned to steer birds towards windows. Another interesting raptor interaction was this young Red-tailed Hawk soaring overhead with its alula feathers spread out very prominently.
March 16th, right on schedule Brooks Nature Area was full of American Woodcock calling. I counted at least 7, which flagged as high on eBird. I took Hercules back with me the next night to try to get some night vision pics or videos, but had trouble getting them spotted.
March 20th brought one of the best experiences of birding so far. I checked a fluddle on 23 Mile Road, north of J DR N. It has been there for a while, so thought I would just check if there were some early shorebirds. I was shocked to see a small sandpiper bobbing up and down in the small fluddle. I had seen reports of Spotted Sandpipers already showing up in Michigan and initially I thought I had one. When I got the scope on it, I realized it had spots on its back. It was a Solitary Sandpiper!!! About 10 days earlier than the first March record in Michigan we had last year at D DR S. Crazy early bird, obviously helped along with all the southerly winds we had been experiencing.
Not a whole lot of other highlights lately. Was able to record some audio of Blue-winged Teal, and it was the first audio of them on eBird for Michigan. Things are going to pick up more with Chaos in the coming weeks, so probably will keep things slowed down. Hopefully the birds don't hold up for too much longer.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)