[Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
I've been putting this off longer than I normally would have. Especially when an incredibly rare county bird shows up. The morning of Saturday the 19th I lost my long-time little girl, Angeline. After we got back from the U.P. she started have some more issues related to her heart murmur. After a week on the medicine she seemed like a new dog. More alert, even doing some running. Like she was a back to only having one bad leg, not too. We battled through a UTI a couple weeks after and seemed to have that behind us. About a week prior she started to cough again, and a couple days later found out she had pneumonia also. We tried antibiotics to get it kicked, but she gradually went downhill to where she wouldn't eat. Saturday morning after trying to get some medicine in her she went to meet Big Sis Abby in Doggie Heaven. Even more than a week later I still miss her so much. She was the sweetest dog I have ever known. She really deserved a better life than she had. Herc has been doing a good job trying to keep me distracted and seems to be much more attached to me this past week.
My birding continued to be very limited as I didn't want to be very far from her while she was trying to fight through everything. White-winged Crossbills have showed up nearby, and those haven't been reported since 1923 on eBird from historical records. I have checked the Burr Oak Cemetary in Athens a couple of times as there is a good cone crop. No luck there, but I did get this really different Red-tailed Hawk on 2/12. Not sure this is an abieticola, as there isn't much streaking. That super buffy coloring under the wing though is not normal for the borealis around here. I've gotten no third party feedback on it though.
On 2/13 I finally got my FOY Red-headed Woodpecker. On 2/17 I briefly caught a glimpse of a Cooper's Hawk nabbing a European Starling in mid-air. Some rough pics of it on a branch with the bird. On Monday the 21st Amy Lyyski had White-winged Crossbills at Huntington Hills subdivision. I tried for them but it wasn't meant to be. A Cooper's Hawk greeted me at the entrance. A vehicle was behind me when I saw a glimpse of a bird at the top of a tree, so I couldn't stop. Then when I turned around a couple walking their dog down the road were blocking me from trying to get there. Once I did, no bird. I did manage a FOY Red-winged Blackbird back home though. The Eastern Towhee continued through the 15th (and then again today I heard it calling).
A therapy walk on 2/23 got a FOY Great Blue Heron at Bridges Park as it flew in to roost for the night. Finally on the 24th Herc and I took a lunch and went back to try to see the Crossbills. We pulled into the tennis courts and I spotted a bird at the top of a tree across the street. Put my binoculars on it, and sure enough a White-winged Crossbill!! I flew as I started to snap pics though. I started to drive out, and then decided to make another lap around. Stopped again at the tennis courts and this time I saw 4 birds, and 1 stayed right at the top long enough to get some decent enough shots. This made bird #246 for the county. Never imagined I could get that many birds here when I started. My potential goal of getting to top 200 in Michigan may take a backseat to trying to get bird #250 for the county.
Finally on the 27th at Riverside Cemetary/Albion Millpond I spotted 6 Cackling Geese mixed in with some Canada. I thought maybe I missed out on this bird for this season. I did not manage to see the Snow Goose that has been here off and on. That may be a tough one to try to get still this year. I'm still way behind my pace for last year (72/83), and missed February high number from last year, by quite a bit (61/73). Both those numbers are still well above any high prior to last year. So if I don't insist on traveling all over the state to get to 300, I should still be able to get around 200 in the County again.
As I stated above though, I think my focus is going to be to try to get #250 this year. I do still have the "Ruff" that hasn't been voted on by the MBRC yet. I'm not counting on it though. That would mean I need to try for 4 more birds after the Crossbill. Target species according to eBird are:
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)