Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
The next day I arrived at work, and meandered towards the far side of the parking lot to check out the drainage pond in front of our building. I notice a small white goose, mixed in with some CANG. I head back to my Jeep, pull it around to the far side of the parking lot, and put my scope on it (luckily I had left it in there). Sure enough another Ross’s Goose (or maybe the same one as the two sightings were about 4 miles away). Best work bird ever. Unfortunately a couple of birders doing big years in that same county did not make it there in time before the visitor traffic likely spooked it.
Not much else during the week despite hitting up flooded field on D DR S once more. Wild Turkeys are back to being somewhat regular yard birds now that it is warming up, a little. Several nights of freezing weather have iced over most of the flooded farm fields, and many of the lakes.
March 10th I hit up the airport, hoping some Meadowlarks might finally show up. No dice there, and the ponds were iced over. D DR S was iced over, but did get a large flock of Brown-headed Cowbirds mixed in with Red-winged Blackbirds on the way there. Unable to pick out anything else. Finally nabbed Cedar Waxwings, and had a bird I thought might be a candidate for Brewer's Blackbird. When I was able to get the photo in Lightroom the rust on the feathers showed themselves. Q DR S had little to offer either. Was thinking maybe I could try for some groups of blackbirds to sort through. I might be a couple of weeks early.
Homer WTP was iced over, but a group of 19 Greater White-fronted Geese were hanging out in the grass near some Canada Geese. Gordon Lake just offered a nice opportunity to snap a pic of a pair of Trumpeter Swans, but did have some open water with little on it. Duck Lake also had little to offer in numbers, but some decent diversity. Surprisingly Wood Duck was a new one for me there. Lake of the Woods did give me some flushed FOY American Wigeon, but again heavily iced up.
A last ditch trip to Ackley Lake proved to be a great last trip of the day. Some minor icing up (was worse on Sunday), but lots of diversity and some decent numbers. The 159 Ring-necked Duck tagged as high. Finally got FOY American Coot, and Herring Gull. One interesting Herring Gull I have posted to Whatbird.com for help. Just seemed like a bit dainty for a Herring Gull, but I think too many other field marks rule out a thayeri (Iceland Gull). All in all I netted 55 species of birds today, besting my previous high of 53. Not a bad day at all.
The sunny days continued on Sunday, unfortunately it was DST (not a fan), and it just felt like I was later than usual to everywhere. There were no blackbirds on my usual spot of A DR S and 12 Mile Road, again I think I am looking to early. Upper Brace Lake had some decent numbers and diversity, but they were mostly in the back again due to icing on the lake. I hoped Stuart Lake at the Brooks Nature Area may have more open water. It did not. It did give me a decent look at a "Grey Ghost", male FOY Northern Harrier. Stuart's Landing was also a bust with only a pair of Swans and 4 Canada Geese on the river.
I headed to 23 Mile Rd and O DR N to see if maybe I could get some better pics of the Northern Shrike. I didn't locate it yesterday, and dipped again today. It may have moved on. I did manage a FOY Eastern Meadowlark. I almost was going to leave the area without recording it. There were numerous European Starlings in the area, and they do spot on imitations. I did put my eyes on one signing though, so was able to "count it".
Duck Lake, again, was quite disappointing. Long-tailed Duck was seen there last weekend, but it didn't stick around. Still no Common Loons for the year, and it remains the best chance for a county first White-winged Scoter. I hit up Ackley lake again, and it was about 80% iced over. The birds were concentrated, but had some really good diversity again. It was a little early for the Gulls to come in and roost though.
I've spent quite a bit of time trying to get the focus adjusted on my camera. Haven't been happy with several pictures lately. It seems to be front-focusing. I think I have it dialed in now, but have to get back outside and see if the adjustment improves things.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)