Sunday, January 29, 2012

Trees don't really need their bark do they?

Last week I was in Riverview Park and noticed a lot of bark around some of the tree bases. I was thinking they must have some disease to have such diffuse loss of bark, but was quite wrong. I heard a Hairy Woodpecker and was walking towards its calls when I noticed 2 Pileated woodpeckers working much more quietly and closely. They were going to town on the treebark.

Check out the Imperial Woodpecker style re-curved crown that the camera froze the female in.
It looks like she has un-moulted primaries from last year, and might be a 1st winter bird depending on how bright the eye color is (my computer's monitor is still on the fritz, I can't tell).

The male seems to have all black primaries and some color to his eye; he's a full adult.

Here's what I mean by extensive scaling...
I'll be curious to see if the trees seem somewhat stunted in their leaf-out. You'd think Pileated's couldn't possibly have home ranges big enough to routinely kill large trees and not eat themselves out of house and home.

Here's the Hairy Woodpecker (a year bird) that set me in their direction to begin with.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Falling behind

I haven't had a chance to get many decent pics of late between weather, work, and a mal-functioning computer monitor that adds red speckles to all the black and teal streaks through all the white. I'm definitely guessing at the post-processing tweaks of the images.

Here's the Hoodie, still hanging out with the New Buffalo yuck ducks.
This Black Scoter flew by the pier earlier in the month.
This possibly injured Lesser Scaup got me the closest to getting a good shot of the wing stretching exercises they do.
Last week I found 2 Trumpeter Swans on Paw Paw Lake during the snow. Normally they hit Paw Paw in December but the delayed ice-up pushed that off to January.
They didn't impress the coot though, another member of the NB yuck duck club.
I've got more pics of the immature Glaucous x Great Blackback that eventually I'll probably get up, but just didn't feel like a technical post.

Friday, January 13, 2012


A drake Hooded Merganser joined the yuck duck flock at New Buffalo the other day. It was by far the closest I've ever been to one. I started tossing bread scraps at them. I didn't see the merg actually take any bread, but it did charge after mallards that got too close to it.
In the 50 degree January day it was doing some courtship displays (though there was no female at the time). It would start by stretching its neck up and down a few times.
Then it would do one of two things, either flare its crest to the side giving it a Bufflehead-like cotton tuft
Here's the reverse angle of the lemon-pucker pose
or it would rear back and utter a descending low-pitched grunting belching vocalization that I can best describe as bu-bu-bu-bu-bwaaaaaah. Its body would rachet forward with each bu until it reached the horizontal neutral position in time for the drawn out bwaaaaaaaaah note.
The mallards and Canada geese were remarkably unimpressed, though he seemed pretty proud of himself.
One last view of its narrow Mohawk.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

natural habitat redpolls

I'm kind of embarrassed to admit this, but I think today was the first time I've ever seen redpolls perched away from a feeder. Certainly it's the first time in the Lower Peninsula. I suppose given that these birds were 75 yards away from Sarett's feeders these hardly count, but since they haven't been seen recently at the feeders I was happy to find them.
I watched a group of a dozen small birds flush siskin-like off the ground into cover but without the siskin trills. A super-slow advance confirmed they were indeed my first solid year bird of 2012, a bird I missed last year (and possibly the year before too).
One of the males (possibly the above bird) was quite pink below, but it didn't come far enough into the open for a good shot. This pic of a female turned out surprisingly well given how deep the shadow was that it was settled in.