Birding in Calhoun County and beyond
Sunday May 14th I tried to head back to Woodland to see if migration had started in earnest. FOY Scarlet Tanager and Black-throated Green Warbler showed up, along with Lincoln's Sparrow and a very shy Veery. The Black-throated is a bird I would have expected to see much earlier, and in far greater numbers. The Lincoln's Sparrow gave excellent looks back in the flooded area across the footbridge.
While back there I kept trying to get looks at some small groups of warblers. It certainly wasn't any kind of fallout, but at least it was some birds. I did manage some decent shots of a warbler flitting around the bushes. I called it a female Black-throated Blue Warbler while out there, and moved on. Later that night after looking at this bird closer I struggled over it. I thought the white patch on the front of the wing was a Black-throated marker, and this heavy grey hood on the head, along with strong facial markings really threw me off. I was all over my Warbler Guide, Sibley's and the interwebz. Finally as I look at my pictures for the dozenth time I finally notice the orange-tinted feathers on the head....Orange-crowned Warbler. The previous looks I have had at these birds they have never showed that much gray up top. Not sure it is enough to try to say it is a different subspecies than we should see around here, but definitely not what I am used to seeing.
May 15th I managed to find another Orchard Oriole at the Airport. A juvenile male this time. May 17th the morning brought me the FOY Eastern Wood-Pewee in the yard.
May 20th was the last KBS FOC Field Trip to Kellogg Forest. 50 birds showed up, with the highlight some good looks at a male and female Hooded Warbler. A probable pair of nesting Great Crested Flycatcher, were seen. 12 Warblers were finally cause for some hope that migration was in process. Chestnut-sided Warblers gave some excellent looks, as well as one of the participants finding a nest being built by one. I swung by Woodland Park afterwards and found my Calhoun FOY Chestnut-sided Warbler.
The next day I headed right back to Woodland Park to see if things were continuing to happen. It paid off with 7 more FOY birds. I was greeted by a very vocal Gray-cheeked Thrush at the entrance. A skittish Northern Waterthrush was just off the initial path near where the small bluebird path branches off. I got good looks at it with binoculars, but it disappeared before I could snap a pic. The back woods brought me a Red-eyed Vireo, Alder Flycatcher and my best ever looks at a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Getting back to the Jeep there was a Philadelphia Vireo calling from the large tree at the entrance. As I'm getting ready to leave a loud call starts to come from the woods near the South-east corner of the lawn. Very similar to a Carolina Wren, but a bit more musical on the notes. I recorded it and jumped to my Warbler Guide app. I had a hunch on Mourning Warbler, and sure enough it matched up. I later looked at it in Audition and the spectrogram matched up nearly exactly. FOY Mourning Warbler. That made a 12 Warbler day for me. Very nice. Finally migration showed up.
The Airport added FOY Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Willow Flycatcher. The Cuckoo I initially thought was just some noises from Fort Custer. Possibly some yelling over speakers. It wasn't until I had moved farther down the road, and the starting to hear the cooing from behind me it dawned on me it was a Cuckoo. Very softly, but a Yellow-billed nonetheless. I also witnessed two Warbling Vireos attacking a Blue Jay, likely trying to defend a nest.
For Calhoun County May would end up with 166 birds seen this year. Not a Big Year number, but respectable and definitely some good birds and good looks.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)