[Birding (and more) in Calhoun County and beyond
It has been relatively quiet around here lately. There is a lull between all the fall migrants moving on, and the winter birds not quite here yet. I took a route from Homer up to Duck Lake and Ackley Lake on the 17th with just some new October birds. Lesser Scaup at Homer, Buffleheads at Duck Lake and Ackley Lake had White-throated Sparrow. R DR N fluddle had one lone American Golden-Plover hanging out in the open near waters edge. Amy Lyyski had a probable White-rumped Sandpiper there on the 20th. Wish I could have gotten that bird...but Chaos.
Male and female Purple Finch made an appearance on the feeders on the 21st. Morning of the 22nd I spooked up some bird that obviously had something in its talons. Was so hard to tell what it was as it flew off quickly behind some brambles. Found Morning Dove feathers, so assuming a Red-tailed Hawk was having its breakfast. Headed out after Chaos to Duck Lake later that day and had a ton of gulls to sort through. Between the distance, the mirage, and the lack of light it really was near impossible to suss out anything to different. 1 apparent Merganser was out there, but I put it as Common/Red-breasted.
Went out to Duck Lake again the evening of the 23rd, and think I hit a rare bird trifecta out there. I'm not sure if they will get confirmed or not. The pics are very bad. Two large ducks out there, and one had that classic Scoter shape. The other was much more "normal" duck like shape with a small stiff-tail. Ruddy Ducks went by it and they were much smaller. Had the light cheek and dark crown. I'm 90% sure it was a Black Scoter, and the other bird a Surf Scoter as it had zero white on its wings. Both bird was soooo far out there though, and even going down to the middle of the lake I couldn't even locate them from there. As I scanned through the hundreds of gulls I had one slightly bigger than the Ring-billed Gulls with a very dark back. So Lesser-black Backed Gull!! It then was hanging with 3 other gulls similar in size. One was a very dark juvenile, and potentially a juvenile Lesser Black-backed. I have one crappy shot that looks like a second slightly smaller black-backed gull with maybe some hood was there. But no way I'm calling a Laughing Gull with the shots I have. Some pics any hood doesn't show, so could just be trick of the light. I posted my horrible pics, and hope between them and the description it is enough.
Made the Homer-Duck Lake route again today, and it was just very empty at both locations. Northern Harrier at Homer was a FOS, as was Horned Grebe and Bonaparte's Gull at Duck Lake. Tree Swallows at Homer flagged for rare for date. Looks like not my latest date for them though.
This very cool looking Red-tailed Hawk was spotted just south of N DR N on 19 Mile Road. I thought maybe had some Western subspecies in it, but I changed it from calrus/abieticola, that I just learned about, to just an abieticola. It has to have the least blobby belly-band though. I've seen borealis with darker bands. I think the chest is even darker than the pics show as it had a full crop. Still continues to be a great year. If the Black Scoter and White-rumped are confirmed the county will be at 223. 225 is a definitive possibility. I'm going to keep trying to get out as often as possible, as hopefully Chaos is slowly losing some of its grip over me.
Almost forgot I had what I thought was a really odd Plume Moth on the 20th so snapped some pics. As I looked at it closer it didn't match any Plume Moth in my field guide. I posted to iNaturalist and it kept pegging it to Crane Flies. I posted as a generic Crane Fly and then went over to BugGuide.net and posted it. Very shortly after that I got an email that it was identified as pedicia inconstans. It was noted as a new data point for Michigan. iNaturalist has only 38 observations for this guy. So seems like something not terribly common for around here. I think only two other reports for Michigan.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)