[Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
Chaos is just not letting up. At this point I thought I would be full-time in the new role that should be less chaos. Have spent near zero time being able to work in it. It is just weekends at this point for any serious birding. Fall warblers being down to just Hooded for a FOY, and that being very unlikely I hit up Homer on the 25th. It added 6 more birds to my September total with my FOS Yellow-rumped Warbler, Ruddy Duck, American Wigeon and Gadwall. Ring-necked Duck continued there as well as quick fly-by of the Peregrine Falcon that had been sighted there earlier. Peregrine, Wigeon and Gadwall were new birds for September for me. Duck Lake gave up a dark juvenile Herring Gull and a surprise on P DR N was a murmuration of European Starling and Red-winged Blackbird as a Sharp-shinned Hawk harassed them. Sharpie had me up to 122 for the month now. Really good number. This also marked my 1000th straight day with an eBird checklist.
I hit up Woodland the morning of the 26th, just to try for the Hooded. Thought I hit 50 species, but it ended up at 48. It was crazy active though. 11 warbler species with around 55 individuals. Probably more. Butterbutts were all over the place. Golden-crowned Kinglets were a new September bird for me also. Was a nice morning to be out as it wasn't quiet for very long as I walked through there. D DR S was now too wet for any shorebirds with only one Greater Yellowlegs patrolling the far shore. The Cow field just south of there that was loaded with shorebirds had nothing in the mud. It did give up #125 for the month with Rock Pigeon.
This past weekend I started out with another trip to Homer. Lots of geese, but ducks were few and far between. I did get a quick look at a still bright male Cape May Warbler, along with a Blackpoll Warbler and plenty of Yellow-rumped Warblers. The Cape May was a first for me in October. Duck Lake WTP gave me a Barn Swallow that tagged as rare on the eBird app, but flags must have gotten changed as it didn't show up in the rare birds for the county. Thought I had something really good as it was very clean white underneath, but lacked the full blue collar for the "white-bellied".
I decided to check to see if the flooded farm field on 23 Mile Road might have some shorebird stragglers. It was loaded!!! I counted 62 Yellowlegs with both 9 Greater and 53 Lesser Yellowlegs flagging for high counts. But wait there's more. I had an obvious long droopy billed bird mixed in near a late Pectoral Sandpiper. Between scope and camera I thought I had a Dunlin out there. Pretty early. After even more scanning I came across another long droopy billed bird. This one just didn't fit right for Dunlin as it was taller. Sure enough a Stilt Sandpiper!!! Both birds flagged as rare, and better yet the Stilt Sandpiper gave me number #207 for the year. A new high for me. Really want to try to get past 210 if I can. At this point I'm not sure if I saw the Stilt and thought it was the Dunlin or vice versa. The birds were out there quite a ways and they honestly look very similar if they are in equivalent water depth to just show slightly lower than belly. Definitely had both though as I had pics with both them and the Pectoral in same pic.
The Dunlin looked really odd to me so I spent quite a bit of time last night making sure it wasn't a very, very rare Curlew Sandpiper. I have some shots that I am pretty sure are the bird and it has the dark middle feathers in the tail, and the wings don't appear to go past the tail. Head also look big, but it is probably the skinniest Dunlin I've seen as it seemed very long-legged.
I had planned to wait until later this evening, once the rain passed, to head back out there. I was forced to go a few hours early as there were reports of American Golden-plover reported out there. By the time I arrived though, there were only a few Killdeer on the pond and a much smaller group of birds circling overhead being very noisy. In the 45" I was there they lifted off and circled 5 times. Something had these birds very spooked. I'm pretty sure a big group of them actually took off and started heading south as I heard them circling overhead at the cattle pond about a mile south. Needless to say the plovers were nowhere to be found. This still looks like it will be the go to spot for trying for Baird's and White-rumped Sandpipers. Both WTP have ridiculously high levels of water and no edges. D DR S water level is too high and no edge also. I really need to get some land and put at least an acre of it as a mudflat.
The high of Saturday was balanced off by the low of today. I really wanted those plovers. It has been 4 years since I've seen any. Still these past weekends have overall been very good and a much needed respite from the insane Chaos happening otherwise. After missing those two weeks in the middle of Spring Migration and just two FOY from 5/31 to 9/2 I didn't think I was going to be where I am at now. One other note. I thought the Stilt Sandpiper gave us a new high for birds in a year for the county at 219. Turns out I had forgotten about the 2018 record of Great Black-backed Gull that was added to eBird in the past year. So it tied 2018, and the Plovers put us at the magical 220 for the year with still almost 3 full months to go. Lots of good birds we can still get.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)