Birding in Calhoun County and beyond
On the heels of my last post, I now definitively have an Iceland Gull...from even farther back. I was going through pictures to try to gradually get checklists updated with pictures, instead of Flickr links. As I was going through the pics I had of the Lesser Black-backed Gull from December 20th, 2014 at the landfill. As I was looking through them, in order to get the LBBG pics exported I saw a Gull I have no idea how I missed before. Plain as day a white-winged gull. At this point it doesn't matter if it is Thayer's or Iceland, but it is definitely an Iceland Gull. County bird #192, and it pushed my 2014 total to 195. It just awaits confirmation on eBird now.
July 8th I headed to the D DR S wetlands. Other than the WTPs this place is going to be a place to hopefully get some shorebirds. The grass is pretty thick and high. Hopefully we don't get too much rain, as shortly after the 8th we had quite a bit and this placed filled up quick. This visit brought me a nice surprise with 2 Sora calling from the North pond. Unfortunately my luck with actually seeing them in the county continues. I saw some grass moving, but never able to see the bird. It could have just as likely been the Mink that was hunting in there. Spotted Sandpipers and Solitary Sandpipers were evident, and there was some decent mud visible on the East side, but I don't think there is enough to sustain any large groups like we had at 23 Mile Road 2 years ago. I had at least on juvenile Spotted and I think 2 of the Solitary were also, so could be a breeding spot for these birds. It was not a bad spot, considering I was there for 2.5 hours.
Next stop was Q DR S between 1.5 Mile Rd and W. County Line to check for Dickcissels. I found at least 3 in this spot. Not much else of note in this location, so I decided to head back towards town. On 2 Mile Road and Q DR S I ran across this momma Wood Duck escorting he little ones across the road. What struck me was how light coloring the female had. I'm calling it a blonde looking female Wood Duck. As I pulled up I was able to get a couple of decent shots close up of them in a small marsh area.
After this I took a bit of time off from birding, although I did pick up a Ring-billed Gull for this month on the 15th at Meijer. On July 20th Amy Lyyski reported a Common Gallinule at D DR S Wetlands. I came home from work and then headed out there for nearly 2 hours. It never made itself visible, but I thought I possibly heard the bird a couple of times. Not confident enough to confirm it with all the other noise happening out there. I did get to observe a Belted Kingfisher beating the tar out of a frog on a tree branch.
I returned the next day, again with no luck. Highlight was finding that the Pied-billed Grebes there are at least 2 (and later finding out 4) juveniles. Another Grebe looks like it could be on a nest.
Third time was a charm, albeit the worst look I have ever had at a rare bird in the county. As I scanned with my binoculars I observed a black shape, with some read on it. I watched for a couple of seconds and then grabbed my camera. Horrible shots, but one was at least good enough to even make out the yellow tip on the bill. Otherwise I could see it being as possibly a bad shot of a Red-winged Blackbird:-). I was tempted to continue on, but decided to call it a day with rain threatening.
I headed back out the morning of the 23rd. I wanted to see exactly what the Conservation Easement was on N DR S. It was a lively spot, but not in the Easement. All I was able to notice there was tall grass growing. So not any kind of shorebird habitat. I did manage to pick up a FOY Black-billed Cuckoo at this spot. I proceeded to head toward Homer WTP to check on the status of the lagoons there. Along the way I ran into another spot loaded with Dickcissels on M DR S. At least 6 singing in this spot. July Savannah Sparrow was singing out in the soybean field. I also had a very yellow bird, that resembled a female Scarlet Tanager, but it disappeared off the wire before I could get my camera on it. Really wish I would have snapped a pic of it. I don't think it was a Western Kingbird, but was an odd place for a Tanager to be. I also ran across a mother Turkey with 5 young.
Homer had not much to offer when it came to shorebirds. One very quick look at a Greater Yellowlegs I was unable to locate, and a Bald Eagle I spooked out of the corner tree. First House Finch for July boldly tried to block the Jeep's path. From there I drove past the pig farm on 23.5 Mile Road road. I counted 61 Turkey Vulture as this roost spot.
I next headed to Whitehouse in hopes of adding Yellow-bellied Sapsucker to the July life list for Calhoun. It took some time, but I was able to find the male, and possibly the fledgling (it was a really quick look as it flew). This was my 5th July bird today, so I had gained some ground on the 100 bird target for this month. I kept my eyes to the sky hoping the Whitehouse Broad-winged Hawks might show up. No such luck.
I swung by a possible old landfill site on Division Dr just North of Whitehouse. Kiehl Smith had Grasshopper Sparrow there, and that was missing from this month. Sure enough, within a minute I heard one singing in the field. Swinging by L DR N the Sedge Wrens continued there. Then to Duck Lake WTP...hugely disappointing. The water level in the East lagoon has been low for quite a while and the sides are full of plants, so no mud to be found there. It doesn't look promising this year beyond D DR S. I forgot about the place slightly North of here....will have to remember that next time. The WTP did give up a July Northern Rough-winged Swallow.
23 Mile Road and O DR N continued to have Dickcissels there. Worrying was a female Brown-headed Cowbird having out near a male and female Dickcissel pair. A juvenile Purple Martin is a first for this spot, I think. A July Least Flycatcher called and showed itself. Last stop was L DR N between 11.5 Mile and 12 Mile Road. Last new July bird for the day, with a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher showing itself. I am at 95 birds for July with another weekend to go. I have some targets, and have high hopes I can pull it off (weather permitting). Last check at the F DR N Cell Tower found both Osprey there, but I don't think they are having any luck with a brood this year.
Off-topic, and I wonder if I need to start a new page with something that is starting to catch my attention. This new interest being Butterflies, Moths and Dragonflies. I don't have the right lens for doing this, but I did manage some halfway decent shots of butterflies while birding. I'm finding they are way more frustrating to photograph than birds. Maybe if this continues I'll add another page for these.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)