Birding in Calhoun County and beyond
Yes, both of these pictures accurately represent me at 10:54 this fine sunny, Sunday morning, January 24th, 2016. After more than 2 years, and more than enough envy to last me, I finally have my Calhoun County Pine Siskins.
Let me back up a little bit though to my escapades yesterday. Was in a position finally to take some time and head out. I decided to try to hit up some of my spots that tend to still have open water this time of year, and can lead to some waterfowl congregation. Along with maybe finally getting an ID'able Red-tailed Hawk (yeah 3 weeks in to the year and don't have a confirmable Calhoun RTHA).
Beadle Lake had a small opening, surrounded by resting Canada Geese and some Trumpeter Swans. 10 Mile Road near G DR S, had open flowing water, but nothing but some extremely skittish Mallards. Lee Lake was Beadle Lake Redux. Biggest disappointment was Marl Lake Road and 1/2 Mile was completely iced over, and a gentleman and his dog were doing....not quite sure what, so I wasn't going to try for any of the possible raptors that might show there.
I decided to head over to 6 Mile Road and W DR S, since there was good light, to see if the Roughies would give me a good shot. On the way there I caught what usually can be dismissed as a Broken-limb Hawk, but didn't quite look right to me. I backed up, and headed down 5 1/2 Mile Road. I really wanted to make this into a Juvenile Sharpie, but after looking closely at the pics it was "just" a juvie Cooper's Hawk.
The pair of Roughies didn't disappoint at 6 Mile. I was able to watch them hunt for a little bit until I decided to continue on. This is the 3rd winter (every winter I have birded) in which this spot has hosted at least one Rough-legged Hawk.
After that I was able to pic up Red-tailed Hawk x 4, with 2 of them within 20 yards of each other. Mobbing calls gave me a very rosy sided Junco, but not enough to call it anything unique. FOY Robins, with a large flock of 20 on scattering across the road as I drove past. Open water continued to elude me until I got to Saylor's Landing. While the waterfowl were non-existent, save Flyover CANG, the Belted Kingfisher was a nice addition. By far the best bird of yesterday though, was this "Hoss" of a Yellow-rumped Warbler at Saylor's Landing. While most of his peers are hanging out in much nicer climates (well prior to Snowmageddon), this guy was working the trees along the river. My first winter Warbler ever, and only the second Calhoun Record for January in eBird.
It's amazing what listing can do, negatively, to you sometimes. I had 7 new year birds yesterday and still felt somewhat disappointed. I had to be reminded that 2 years ago, I would have been ecstatic over a day like that. Especially with the Cooper's Hawk, and Yellow-rumped being on that list.
Which leads me to today. I had thought about getting up early and trying to hit up some potential Northern Saw-whet Owl spots again, but my dogs had other ideas. Ended up sleeping in and deciding to focus on more "adult" activities today. I spent much of the morning kicking myself for not going out. Especially after seeing multiple Pine Siskin reports coming in yesterday from around the county.
It's nice to know that there still is some Birding "Mojo" at work (okay so some call it luck). I happened to look outside at the nearly empty nyjer feeders and thought "that doesn't quite look right for a House Finch hanging from there. A quick look through the binoculars revealed this lone bird hanging there with that wonderfully narrow bill, and split tail. It was soon followed by Goldfinches (for size comparison), and some obvious males with the yellow on the wings, and those lovely plain brown streaks I've been wanting to see.
10 Minutes later there were all gone from the feeder, and never came back. I went outside to listen for their calls, and was able to catch some calling back to me in the distance. Imagine how many times I have possibly missed them in the past, or could have easily missed them today but for that casual glance outside. Great reminder of why birding is really a part of me now.
P.S. in regards to a debate on whether the term "Lifer" can be used for a bird you have already seen in another location...I was right. The Pine Siskins seen in Calhoun was soooooooo much more meaningful than my lifer Siskins last year. Having them be a yard bird now is just a bonus.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)