[Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
Chaos has not let up with the New Year, in fact it portends to be an extended period of Suck. A bright spot of the home-bound Chaos is being able to check the feeders out intermittently. On the 4th I checked and there was a distinctly Not-a-House-Finch bird on the feeders. Sure enough a male Common Redpoll had found my feeders!!! Yard Bird #150. It would eventually be joined by up to 4 on one day. No huge flock, but they have been relatively daily visitors since.
Also a nice surprise on the Junco front with an Oregon Junco showing up, joined by a second Oregon Junco in the yard no too far after. I still have not had a cismontanus, which is surprising. Another initially surprising bird was a Slate-colored Junco with striking wing-bars. After my previous experience I wasn't nearly as optimistic about this bird. I never did see tail feathers, but it was definitely not larger than the other Juncos.
On the 8th the feeders were visited by both a juvenile Cooper's hawk and and adult Sharp-shinned Hawk. The Sharpie being a FOY bird.
The fun really started on the 8th when Hercules and I were able to leave the Chaos behind and head out. He has done a great job as a birding dog, although a couple of upchuck accidents mean I think he may have some motion sickness. We headed out to I DR S and 10 Mile to see if the Redpolls were back. They were not. I swung by Lee Lake as a report of a Ruddy Duck, by Chris Peet, there was a good bird to have in January. I was met with an incredibly large flock of giant white birds. 72 Trumpeter Swans were hanging around here. I think the the fact the lake is not completely surrounded by houses gives them a feeling of safety, as I had 50 plus earlier. The Ruddy Duck also made an appearance, as well as a large flock of 84 Sandhill Cranes taking off and departing to the South. Both birds tagging as rare for this time of the year.
I did find the/a Redpoll flock but they were pushed way out into the farm field and showed no intention of returning to the road. Hopefully I can run across another to search for a Hoary.
On the 16th we headed out to Wilder Creek to try to find Green-winged Teal reported the day prior. FOY American Black Duck and Great Blue Heron were there, but not Teal. We headed to B DR N, East of 23 Mile Road to look for Longspur. Smaller flock of Snow Bunting were present, and there might have been some browner birds mixed in, but the looks were not good. Hopefully I've still got some time to find those. I've not had a Longspur since December of 2017. 3 stinking years!!!
We headed down 25 1/2 Mile Road to see if anything was in the river, or if maybe a Red-shouldered Hawk was hanging out there. As we turned to head south there was a large grey raptor up on a dead tree branch. I glassed it, and realized it was way bigger than a Coop, but it was just giving me its back. Eventually it turned its head enough to see the bold mustache and grey helmet. A Peregrine Falcon, more likely the same Peregrine that is seen occasionally in Albion. It was also seen the next day by Amy Lyyski.
After that nice find I headed to Barnes Park to look for the Cackling Geese. I already have this bird, but they are still good birds to observe. I think I managed some decent photos of them, along with the Domestic x Canada Goose Hybrid.
After hitting up Duck Lake to pick up Greater Scaup, and see the White-winged Scoter still hanging out there we drove back down some farmlands hoping for Longspurs or even Rough-legged Hawks. Across from the old 23 Mile Road Flooded Field there as an enormous flock of birds that lifted off. I did a quick turn around and finally found them. An enormous flock of Snow Buntings were doing their best imitation of locusts on the remaining corn. I estimated them at 300 as this flock was larger than the 210 I had counted on B DR N. When I counted from one of my photos there were 514 visible!! Staggering number of these birds there. Unfortunately no Longspurs mixed in anywhere.
The Scaup put me at 58 for the year so far. Well above my high of 49 for January to start the year. The county is at 72 species already. I believe 65 is our previous high at this point. It definitely is shaping up to be a really good year. I think I am going to have to try to keep this up as it is my one escape from Chaos. I didn't go out today, and regret not doing so.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)