[Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
On the 22nd a text went out for the Kalamazoo Birding about a Smew sighted at Sherman Lake. I wasn't dressed for it, but I booked out there immediately. I was one of the first ones to the boat launch, but the bird was nowhere to be seen. Adam Byrne was in contact with Ross Green and Michael Bowen who were watching the bird still. Eventually another birder contacted a local home owner and we were able to head down there. I waited a little bit and found the Barrow's Goldeneye there, before heading down.
Sure enough I was able to get onto the female Smew mixed in with Hooded Mergansers and Canada geese. I got some ID'able pics of her. Now we just need to see what the MBRC says about the bird. Could be an escapee. She did fly away shortly after I left, and since then has not been re-sighted. Could be a once in a lifetime sighting. Well worth the trip and the freezing temps.
Christmas Eve I decided to head out for a little bit and see if I could find some winter flocks. I've not seen Snow Bunting or Lapland Longspurs yet this year. The yard I think is pretty tapped out. I thought about how hard it is for birds to even find the feeders I have. I had passed a flock of 30 European Starlings that were less than 1/4 a mile away. I know they hang out regularly in the area, but I rarely get them at my feeders. Redpolls or Grosbeaks could pass by very easily.
After a little bit of driving around, and missing out on ID'ing a flock of birds I came across a huge flock on 10 Mile Rd just south of I DR S. It was all Redpolls. I started scanning and snapping pics of any lighter colored bird. I posted on Whatbird.com, as I think I could have as many as 5 Hoary Redpolls. As of this typing I have confirmation on one that I knew was a no doubter. So I am at 241 for the county. Not bad adding 4 new ones in the past 6 weeks or so after going through quite the drought. I only had 3 new county birds last year.
The Hoary is the rarest bird I've found in the County, besides the Northern Goshawk. Going to take some more ones rare like these if I am going to try to get to 250 eventually. At this point I will probably have to settle for 1-2 a year if I am lucky. Have to be prepared for some years with zero new ones. I will still try to get out some more before the end of the year although the options are dwindling for any County lifers, could make my year number a little more respectable. Once the Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull and Glaucous Gull get added we will be at 217 for the year in the county. In line with our high of 218. We could still get a Greater White-fronted Goose, Ross's Goose, Short-eared Owl, Long-tailed Duck, Golden Eagle, or Snowy Owl.
Since I started birding the birds I have dipped on:
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)