Birding in Calhoun County and beyond
As new county birds get harder to come by, I also track birds seen in the county by month. I happened to notice on my list that I have not had a Ring-billed Gull in the month of June. A side trip for dinner to Schlotzky's on 6/25, made for the unmistakable call of a Ring-billed Gull coming from the nearby Wall-mart parking lot. Birds are everywhere.
On June 27th I received an e-mail while at work. Kiehl Smith had relocated the White-eyed Vireo at Whitehouse, and Dr. Dale Kennedy also found it shortly after. I managed to get out of work on time, get home and then head on over there. On the way I usually drive by the F DR N Cell Tower now that there isn Osprey nest back there. Top down on the Jeep, I pull up and immediately see 2 Osprey on the tower. Great sign for some future Osprey. An even better sign not 15 seconds after I arrive there, one of the Osprey leaves the tower, flies around the tower and lands on top of the other Osprey. Definitely a great sign for future Osprey here. I am going to have to check back later in July to see if they are successful. Seems a little late considering I'm reading 7-8 weeks to fledge after 34 to 40 days incubation. That would put them fledged sometime in mid-September.
From there I headed straight to Whitehouse. I didn't have to go far as the bird was reported just past the footbridge over the river. Within 5 minutes of walking around near the River trail I heard an odd call. I'm not very familiar with the White-eyed Vireo calls. For me it is always one thing to listen to a recording, and another to hear them live and mixed in with other birds. I could see where one might not recognize this call as to me it is very similar to a Gray Catbird except for the repetition. It was calling from the North side of the trial, very faintly. I tried to search through the brush to get a visual. It was not coming out, even with some pishing on my part. After approximately 10 minutes and a few minutes of it not singing, I started to hear it on the South side. This side has a small section that offers a view into the lower wetland area. It was calling from not less than 30 feet away, but didn't make itself visible. It is a lifer, and Calhoun bird #228, but I always wish I could see the bird, or even better get a picture.
While I was there I stopped by to see how the Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were fairing. I believe this pair is the furthest south birds in Michigan. They picked a nice spot for a nest. Right over the trail near the Nature Center building. I immediately observed a curious but wary small head in one of the holes in the tree. The female flew in shortly after and fed it, and it disappeared back into the nest. I could hear it giving little chip notes that intensified in volume when the male then flew in to feed it. Looks like they will have at least one successful fledgling from this nest. Something interesting about the call notes when I tried to clean them up in Audition. There was a distinct high and low part to the call. I'm not sure if it was a result of there being two birds in the nest, or if it was the bird using both sides of its syrinx.
After about an hour at Whitehouse trying to locate the White-eyed Vireo for a picture I left and headed to the small wetland near Rice Creek on L DR N, between 26 and 24 Mile roads. A Henslow's Sparrow had been reported near there, and is a new location in the county for them. I also needed one to add to the year total. I had no such luck there, but at least 1 Sedge Wren was heard singing here. I hit up 23 Mile Road and O DR N to see how the Dickcissels were doing. In the less than a mile long stretch of O DR N I counted 12 Dickcissels singing. Not far from there at N DR N and 20.5 Mile road I found 2 more Dickcissels singing. Definitely an irruption year for them here.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)