Saturday, September 11, 2021

Who am I

 It's not often that you randomly come across something you've never seen before, but a couple days ago saw a huge passerine movement through Michigan.  Unfortunately I couldn't be out much that morning, but it was still active in the afternoon in Riverview.  One of the birds I saw was a very dark warbler.

It's missing most of the tail.  In the field it clearly had a yellow rump, which is suggested in the top pic.  I think it's a Yellow-rumped Warbler mostly still in juvenile plumage.  It felt really early for Yellow-rumps but Riverview is a good place for them.  Palm also has a yellow rump, but I doubt would have such strong wingbars?  The next pic is a clear Yellow-rump, though these birds were outnumbered by Palms by 10 or 20 to one.

There was also a Bay-breast on the ground.  This one did have a smidge of bay along the flanks, though it was a lot more visible when the bird moved up to the trees.

Because the warblers were on the ground, the thrushes would be in the trees right?
There've been loads of Swainson's, and if there's tons of Swainson's then there'll be a few Gray-cheeks as well.  Above is probably my best ever Gray-cheeked pic.

Transitioning to bad pics, here's my first Yellow-bellied Flycatcher of the year.  My settings were all wrong and I badly over-exposed a bird that's very intensely colored.

The next pic is my first Philadelphia Vireo of the year, on this one the settings actually weren't bad, but strong backlighting through green leaves really made the color wonky.  The brightest yellow was right where the throat met the breast, but that was hard to document. 

Finally two decent pics, first a Marsh Wren that surprised me.  You don't hear them sing in the fall.

The Wood-pewees are still singing though.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Little Gull

 It's been a while since I've had a late summer Little Gull.  I got out to the beach fairly late for me and found Will and Lisa already there.  There wasn't a ton moving and when Will followed Tim out to the end of the pier I debated how long I would stay.  But about the time they got to the end a bird appeared trailing a couple Bonaparte's Gulls.  The first thought that went through my mind was, "Why does that tern have a black M on its back?"  Because it's a Little Gull.

I jogged out to the end.

It's a juvie that's still in pretty fresh plumage.  It hugged the river water's edge and we hoped it would come in closer as the wind started shifting the river water closer to the pier but the boat traffic  dispersed the birds.

One montage of the bird showing off that dorsal black M.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The gulls say it's a jaeger

 Yesterday was internationally recognized Hudwit Day.  Or maybe that's only observed at Tiscornia.  And no hudwits were observing it as far as anyone could tell.  But the gull flock was present and abruptly they all took off in one direction.  Which was odd since I didn't see a dog, and then when I looked up to the sky I didn't see an eagle.

What I did see was this, a brown bird sporting the biggest baddest brightest white wing flash that the beach has ever known.

Clearly gulls don't use shape in their jaeger ID since they flew immediately every time this leucistic young Herring Gull re-appeared.  I'm not sure if that will help or hurt it.  On one hand he's going to have a heck of a time finding a flock that he can rest with so may be more likely to get picked off by an eagle.  On the other hand if the flock finds a food source this bird may be able to commandeer it pretty easily.

I'm pretty sure I saw photos of this individual from Michigan City and since gulls almost always work their way south along our lakefront that probably doesn't bode well for this bird since it's desperate enough to go the wrong direction.

It's striking enough that a montage was in order.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

New Buff Baird's

 There's been Baird's Sandpipers in New Buffalo all week, but I didn't go down until this morning when I met with James to bird the beach.  The Baird's didn't disappoint, at one point there were 4 juvies all in view.

There was a juvie Least and Semipalmated Sandpiper loosely associating with the Bairds.  In the above pics you can see wings extending past the tail, the buffy scalloping, and the slightly droopier more tapered bill on the Baird's in comparison with the Semi Sand on the right side of the next pic.

The Turnstone which James spotted as it flew in turned out to be an adult still in pretty full breeding plumage.

Finally a shot of a Killdeer that was so excited to see us (and the eagle) that it teed up pretty nicely

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Little Blue nemesis no more

 I've never chased a Little Blue Heron.  In the 8-10 years before I move here there were at least 3 in Berrien Co that I remember, and there may have been more.  In the last 16 years to my memory ... Tim had one fly by Tiscornia.  Nolan Keyes found a first year at Brown before if flew off. Tim helped me re-find it.

Note the blue lores to separate it from Snowy Egret, as well as the longer bill than Snowy.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

mangos in the heat

Mexico is hot in the afternoon!  As we worked our way into the state of Chiapas we stopped at a mango plantation.  For as hot as it was, there was a decent amount of activity.

This Golden-fronted Woodpecker though, was panting in the heat.

Alex was able to tape in a few Giant Wrens without too much effort.

There were various kiskadee class flycatchers, anis, caciques, and saltators working the edges of the orchards.  I don't remember if these Orange-chinned Parakeets were in mangos or a different fruiting tree.

A female (or immature male?) Rose-throated Becard teed up pretty nicely.  I've seen males in Costa Rica ... but the race there is gray throated.

We'd seen an immature roadside hawk in the morning, but did see an adult in the afternoon.

Finally a truckload of mangos headed to market.  I may have sampled a few windfalls reachable from the road's shoulder ... they were delicious!  Prior to this trip I'd only had the bigger Peruvian ones, but the yellow Mexican ones, while smaller, are every bit as sweet and easier to eat.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

No storms at New Buff

 A line of thunderstorms appeared to be bearing down on the northern half of the county this morning, but New Buffalo looked clear, so New Buffalo it was!

An solitary Avocet awaited the sunrise.  It's still mostly in breeding plumage, though you can see some winter gray coming into the face

The avocet dwarfed the Killdeer that walked past it, which in turn dwarfed an adult Semipalmated Plover who also enjoyed some morning sun.

I like the composure better of the bird on a rocky Great Lakes beach, but there was less sunrise at this point...

The most interesting birds were a couple mergansers which (8/12 edits after a communique from Adam lol italicized), after some study, turned out to be Red-breasteds Hooded's in eclipse juvenile plumage.  A few years ago there were a pair of eclipse Common Mergs (that I didn't get right) so hopefully take 2 was a success! (nope). Of course the pics are absolute garbage so I'm not leading off with them.  But the pink bills (and size in comparison to Mallards) crossed Hooded off the list. made me think they couldn't be Hooded and I must have rounded up their size in my mind.  The shape did seem a little off, but I couldn't get past the pink bills.  Sibley doesn't show young hooded with bright bills, but some internet searches pull them up pretty easily.  Common in eclipse would have a much stronger demarcation between the neck and the breast.

There's some much better phone-scoped video of the birds that shows the color a lot better than this really low light effort