WARNING: to any faithful readers of this blog, the following post contains primarily bird-related content. I know that's probably shocking after all the flower posts, but hey, gotta get back on track sometime.
Left Berrien today to check out a few areas to the north (because you should NEVER go somewhere you've never been on a big day), starting in Allegan SGA on a warm day with heavy SE winds making it hard to listen for grassland birds. There was indeed a pair of upland sandpipers foraging in the short grass SE of the 118th and 59th street intersection along with a 3rd bird farther west on 118th. I couldn't, however, locate any true grassland sparrows (there was one vesper in the road), bob-white, or mockingbirds. There was one pine warbler on 46th as well.
I then headed up to the Muskegon Wastewater Treatment plant where there were actually whitecaps from the wind in the more northern parts. I'd never been there before and found the ambiance not unpleasant. There was definitely less of the "smell of victory" that the typical landfill has (though a landfill does abut the treatment plant so you can take the pepsi challenge for birding noses so to speak. It honestly smelled like the old microbiology lab in college by nowhere as intense. Anyway, I hadn't been there 15 minutes before I rolled up on a naked-eye eared grebe in full breeding plumage. Despite the fact it was more or less holding its position in the water, I couldn't get anything more than a record-quality pic with the rolling waves and strong backlit overcast. I continued on, eventually finding a second eared and about 7 horned grebes. The second eared grebe had slightly shorter ear plumes than the original bird. In addition to a group of turkeys, a rough-legged hawk, and some cormorants, there was one goldeneye with a very Barrow's-shaped head, not at all with the triangular peak that the commons typically have. Rather, the bird's head peaked in the forehead and swept back from there (despite wind from its back). That being said, it seemed to be a female-type bird but with an all dark bill so I left it as an odd common or perhaps just a common with an odd posture. There were 3 more uplands in the grassy areas on the way out, one of which was calling. Hopefully tomorrow I can find an Upland actually in Berrien.
And finally, a nice example of squirrel corn from yesterday behind the house, a close relative to the more common Dutchman's breeches.