Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
Chaos will be driving the next 6 months or so into a forced focus on yard-birding. It is something that has been popping up as a goal anyway, so next year is as good a time to do it as any. There hasn't been enough snow to push too much activity to the feeders. Just enough to get some Sharp-shinned Hawk action a few times in the past couple of weeks.
Yesterday I had one go after the feeder. It is amazing to see how alert the birds at the feeder are. They took off en masse several seconds before the Sharpie popped into view. The Sharpie took up several perches around the yard, and chased after a Cardinal briefly. I headed outside to see if I could get some better pics of it. I ended up spooking up a bird that bounced off one of my windows. The hawk flew up the yard, and past me at 10 feet at a 60 degree angle. It reminded me of the Great Horned that flew over my head. Great naked eye looks. It perched a couple of times and I managed a few more shots before it headed off to the West.
Other highlights in the past couple of weeks have been the number of Trumpeter Swans continue to be high. I had 19 flyover on 12/1. Also on 12/8 at Goguac Lake I was able to see the/a leucustic Trumpeter Swan with bright orange legs. A nice late Turkey Vulture was visible driving down Beadle Lake road on 12/6. I looked at my records and still not the latest I've had one here. The Millpond off Riverside and Dickman had a large number of Herring Gulls with a couple of fairly clean headed ones, and one still holding on to the bright yellow breeding bill on it.
December 8th brought a report of a Snow Goose at Reiger park in Albion. When I arrived, there were no birds there. I found the local domestic goose on the Cemetery side of the pond. At Barnes Park there were over 250 Canada Geese and some Mallards, but no white goose there. The record was accepted in eBird and it wasn't a newbie birder. I did manage to pick out a Greater White-fronted Goose mixed in with the CANG. Closest I have been to one, but still tough to get pics with it mixed in a large flock. While I was out I hit up Duck Lake and was disappointed. It was so windy everything was at the South end, and there isn't a great spot to sit and spot from there. Around R DR N area between 19.5 and 21 Mile Road were well over 1000 Sandhill Cranes.
On the White-winged Junco candidate I had some correspondence with David Sibley. He says he is confident it isn't an aikeni. The size was always an issue, and I've yet to find any pic of them next to Slate-colored. I mentioned that to Mr. Sibley and it prompted him to look and noticed the same thing. He did provide me a pic of what he considers the typical White-winged. It was definitely a lighter colored bird than mine. He said he wasn't surprised that a Slate-colored could potentially have as much white in the tail feathers as my bird had. It was fun to do some research and trying to get my mind working on doing something a little more than what Chaos offers.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)