Friday, October 17, 2014

Another week, another Harris's Sparrow

It was Rhoda's turn to step onto the Harris's cycle, spotting this bird at the cul-de-sac at Warren Dunes.  It's another first fall bird, possibly a female given that it's less patterned than last week's Harris's.
The first pic was badly over-exposed since I had my camera on Winter-Wren-in-the-Underbrush settings.  It was rescue-able as a record shot with a little more post-processing than I'd like.  By the time I frantically thumb-wheeled down the F-stop it had gotten semi-obstructed by some leaves...


 Here's the Winter Wren from seconds before...

By the time I'd managed to hand-focus on the bird in the thick underbrush it also leaned its head behind some obstructing vegetation.  It's still the closest I've come to a Winter Wren portrait.

White-throated Sparrows were the dominant species though.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Circle of Harris's Sparrow

About 8 years ago Kip and I were birding Warren Dunes and he spotted a Harris's Sparrow on seed that Tim had put out.  About 5 years ago Alison found one on seed I'd put out (I never did see that bird).  Today Rhoda and I were at Galien River County Park where there was a lot of activity in the little island of brush in the parking lot.  This was basically the view of about the 6th bird I saw...

It was more backlit when I first saw it, but the plain olive-brown head is pretty unique.  It disappeared in seconds but after a few minutes came back.


It was hanging out mostly with White-crowned Sparrows, this one from Chickaming.

We spent a good amount of time at that under-birded park, seeing several Goldenrod Warblers, aka Orange-crowned.

They weren't the only warblers around,
Nashvilles and Yellowthroats were about as well, amongst a handful of other species. 

We were actually looking more for Nelson's, but I needed Harris's for self-found so I was pretty excited about this bird.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Lakewatching is fun again

just probably not today.

It's that time of year, most of the days I've been out over the last month I've had a year bird.  Of course part of that is that I've gotten out less this year than just about any year since I've lived here.

Two Franklin's Gulls landed on Silver last week.


All of these first 3 pics are of the first year bird (the pic below is a montage of the same bird).

This is a montage of the adult
The adult has some white between the black wingtips and the dark gray upperwing. 

This is a full adult Parasitic Jaeger from a couple days ago, the first jaeger I've seen in Michigan with full tail extensions.

The tail extensions doubled the length of the tail.  Long-tailed would have a smaller bill, less of a breast band and would lack an underwing white flash if fully adult.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Peregrines vs Palm Warblers

not much of a match-up really.

but first, there's still one spot left on the 8 person trip I'm organizing to Costa Rica, $1550 for 8 days, Savegre highlands, and 2 mid-elevation spots, Tapanti and Rancho Naturalista.  Read more here.

Back to the pier this morning.  There were a lot of passerines coming off the calm lake.  Unlike last week's ill-fated thrushes, these seemed to have no problem reaching the shore under their own power.  Some sought shelter in the iron-work of the pier.




We weren't the only ones watching.
There were a couple of Peregrines working the area, one way out over the lake and another sallying forth from the lighthouse.  It didn't show much interest in the birds on the pier.  The birds flying off the lake however were another story.  It made a few smooth passes by the end.

I wasn't for sure it would be that interested in the tiny warblers dominated by Palms
 or the Yellow-rumps that made up most of the remainder (exceptions being a chestnut-sided and this Pine)

but I was wrong.  The peregrine purposefully flew out, flared, and fairly effortlessly snared a warbler.  I think it flew more or less directly out of the sun; I doubt the warbler saw its doom until it was captured
 It's another Palm Warbler.

The overwhelming majority of the birds made it ashore though, we walked the grass finding a sedge wren.  Nelson's sparrow will have to wait a few days.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thrushes appear delicious

though a White-throated Sparrow will work in a pinch for this sub-adult Ring-billed...
 

It appeared to be a rough morning to be flying over the lake one day last week.  A lot of thrushes were tiring and not quite reaching shore.  We watched them land on the water at times to rest.
They would sometimes be able to launch and fly another 50 yards or so before dropping back down.  Unfortunately for them we weren't the only ones watching.  The Swainson's above was gulped down by a Herring Gull.  This one attracted a Ring-billed...




Hard to know if it got to shore with its prey or if a Herring took it away.  We didn't see any land on the water and live.

The next day there were gull pellets at the end of the pier. I pulled a few apart with a stick but couldn't find any skulls.

Slightly less macabre is a juvie Semi Plover digiscoped the same morning.

Amar Ayyash had a similar post a few weeks ago during warbler migration from the other side of the lake...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Berylline. Hummingbird.

This was pretty amazing.  A Berylline Hummingbird appeared along Lake Superior along the UP shoreline a couple days ago.  The next day it no-showed at the original feeder but was noted by a homeowner 20 miles east.  As I understand the tale, the two home-owners, who knew each other, met up for dinner.  They looked at each other, and each burst out "you won't believe what I had at my feeder," a pause, and then each blurted out "Berylline Hummingbird!"  I've never chased a rarity to the UP before, but I couldn't resist this one.  Rhoda and I went up yesterday.

The bird was mostly frequenting a feeder about 60 feet off the road, I was mostly trying to digiscope it, but it didn't sit long.  I'm still getting used to the feel of phone-scoping, this was my best effort.  All the pics in this post are cropped more heavily than I'd like.

It turned its head once into the sun, lighting up the brilliant green head for which it's named.

About every 15-20 minutes it would come in briefly.  Once it came to a feeder much closer to the road and I did much better with the SLR.

The rufous wings were really impressive.  I think the pics somewhat understate just how bright they were.



This, as it flew away, is probably my favorite shot of the day.

Truly an amazing bird.  To my knowledge there aren't any other hummers that would be similar appearing with that bright of wings.  Based on the figures in the Rare Birds of NA book, I saw no evidence of hybridization

Monday, September 15, 2014

but it's pretty Euro-trash

Tim found a pair of European Goldfinches at Tiscornia yesterday.  They were still there this morning as luck would have it, feeding (perhaps not surprisingly) in the equally alien spotted knapweed.  With as much European flora that's established it's perhaps surprising these birds aren't more common.


My only shot with both birds easily IDable

It was really dark, flight shots don't work that well at slow shutter speeds, but you can get a sense of the wing flash.

They had a very bubbling flight call when they were moving around, unique even to my ears.

It was actually a pretty fun morning.  There were large numbers of BW teal flying (north) way offshore with a few of the other dabblers.  An avocet flew by though it was just too far and high to get pics of.  A Semi plover was more cooperative.
 

The shorebirds (mostly sanderlings) were moving around a lot at least partially on account of a young peregrine

It was flightier than the merlins are when they perch on the iron-work.

There were a couple of very distant jaegers as well as a Black Tern that came in far closer than they usually do

Finally a nice group of warblers in the corner once I could no long stay awake sitting on the end, highlighted by a Golden-winged.
I've certainly taken better shots of Golden-winged, but never at Tiscornia.  A Blackpoll was more cooperative