Birding in Calhoun County and beyond
May 13th was the Global Big Day this year. I decided to see if I could outdo my previous May high, and the high I just set for April. I started at Woodland Park hoping to get a big start with some warblers finally coming through. It was not to be. 7 warblers was not what I was expecting. I was honestly hoping for a minimum of 12. Just a rough migration this year it seems. I did manage a FOY Magnolia Warbler, American Redstart and Ovenbird while there. Indigo Bunting was a first, as well as finally a Ruby-throat Hummingbird and Least Flycatcher. After 3.5 hours there, it just wasn't happening so I decided to move on. 46 birds at Woodland was a good, but not great start to the day.
The routine when going to Woodland is usually heading to the airport. Top down on the Jeep always makes it much easier to bird there. You can get nice views of the trees on both sides of East Airport Road. Thankfully because of that view, I nabbed lifer number 293, Orchard Oriole. Excellent looks at a singing male. I heard an Oriole singing that seemed just a little different. I put my binoculars on it, and saw an Oriole with an incredibly dark red front. Yes I did audibly say "That's an Orchard Oriole!". I've dipped on them there in the past. It was nice to get this one checked off the list. Not to be outdone I observed a Baltimore Oriole going into a nest within 50 feet of where the Orchard Oriole was singing. The airport also gave me a FOY Grasshopper Sparrow with excellent looks at it.
After this I needed to head back to the homestead. I may be able to go the whole day birding, but my dogs cannot. From here on out it began a chase to catch birds that Kiehl Smith was finding. Cerulean Warbler at Voorhees Brothers Sanctuary was the first alert I received. I've never actually been to the Sanctuary before, just outside of it for Barred Owl last year. Before I get there though, there are plenty of excellent spots on the way there.
My go to spot for Bobolinks is 23 Mile Road and O DR N. The field on the North side of O DR N has always been a good place for them. A quick drive down P DR N near Lake of the Woods revealed nothing significant. Sure enough though at O DR N there were plenty of singing Bobolinks. This is one spot that I really should plan out to bird better. It's a nice spot with little traffic and some decent open field, and open fields with small scattered brush. Ideally it should be hit earlier in the morning as the scattered brush is on the South side.
Now at Voorhees there is a nice path with some large hard wood trees, but lacking in the heavy underbrush. There are some open farmland to the South that should help with some variety there also. My target bird, Cerulean Warbler, gave me some amazing looks. Number 226 for the county. I only spent an hour there, and did miss on some other birds there. Was hoping to nab an Acadian Flycatcher there.
From there I headed up 24 Mile Road with hopes maybe the open fields have some flooding with shorebirds in them. No such luck, so on to Duck Lake. Duck Lake is definitely a late Fall-early Spring place to bird. Once the boats are out there the birds move on. Even the WTP was lacking in birds, with only 14 species there. From there I decided to swing by the O DR N "fluddle" and see if any late shorebirds decided to show up. What it lacked in quantity of species, it made up for in quantity of specie. 9 Semipalmated Plovers tagged as a high count for this area. I had high hopes maybe there was another Plover mixed in there, but no such luck. Next alert had me running from there down to Fairview Cemetery/Homer Sewage Ponds to try to beat the sun going down. Kiehl had reported Least Sandpipers there. Despite hardly any open shoreline there were 9 Least Sandpipers there. I also managed to finally get my FOY Bald Eagle there trying to stir up things.
All in all in ended up being a pretty Big Day for me with 1 lifer, a second County lifer, 13 FOY and 81 birds in total. I know with a little more planning, and better timing it is possible to get 100 birds in 1 day within the county. The county overall had 110 birds reported.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)