Thursday, April 16, 2009

A spring day

I enjoyed the warmest day of the year so far, starting at Tiscornia where long-tailed ducks continued to stream north well out over the lake. One of the red-throated loons had gray along the sides of the neck, starting to attain breeding plumage, however all the others were still solidly white-throated. I spent an hour there before I knew I'd have to press on if I was to cover as much ground as I hoped.

I spent some time poking around the roads into and around Grand Mere trying to find a Coopers nest, though any local birds had probably stopped calling by the time I arrived. Phoebes, fox sparrows, hermit thrushes, RC kinglet, and sapsuckers were all present. This grebe was fairly cooperative on the North lake:
Common loons were present on both lakes. The scaup on middle lake were somewhat worried when a loon landed; the entire flock watched it land with necks outstretched and moved nervously away.

I made my first trip to Floral. By 11 it had warmed up considerably and bird activity had definitely slacked off. More kinglets, as well as towhees and YR warblers, and a winter wren appeared sporadically. The warm temperature had butterflies up and moving around. Morning cloaks and eastern commas were fairly prominent. There was also an unidentified small blue one and some cabbage butterflies. The comma looks like it's on the same kind of bush that attracted pipevine swallowtails and the duskywings in Arizona 6 weeks ago.

The flowers in Warren Dunes (at least down on the floor where the trail is) were about 2 weeks behind the ones on my SE facing backyard hill. The Dutchman's breetches were barely even budding. This patch of hepatica was about the nicest I've ever found.
There were also some small trilliums about to open. Given that my large-flowered trilliums are barely up, I have hope that these may turn out to be snow trilliums, a species I've never found before (now if I can just get back there...)

A pair of bluebirds was foraging in the trees in the parking lot.

I spent the remainder of my time searching the wet spots and fields down in the south county for shorebirds, ducks, blackbirds, and longspurs. I again struck out utterly with longspurs (and found far fewer shorebirds and ducks than have been reported), but did find this blackbird:
I'm not sure which species this is. Obviously it was not a red-winged, besides the lack of red-wings, it's much glossier than the redwings are. I was particularly confused by the dark brown eye. Males of either rusty or Brewer's should have white eyes. While female Brewer's have dark eyes, this bird was in glossy male plumage. I think it's probably an aberrant rusty since it's not quite as glossy as my memory of Brewer's from the last 2 Mays. Brewer's has always been somewhat of a mystery to me in migration; I never found one in Washtenaw, the only ones I've seen in Berrien have been in May. Chartier and Ziarno's Michigan ABA guide show mid-April as the peak for Brewer's in the southern LP. Just for the sake of argument, shiny cowbird apparently would typically have a dark eye though the bird's proportions were those of a blackbird rather than a cowbird.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% about the hepaticas. That patch would make an awesome painting. The dirt contrasting with the purple is phenomenal!

*I Donated To Cornell Ornithology!*