Tuesday, November 25, 2014

pics not worth an eider

I'm in a long stretch right now where I go to work every single day for one reason or another.  This morning was a 7am meeting in St Joe, then an 8:30am meeting in Berrien Springs.  I drove back and forth in the freezing rain eventually getting home late morning to find that the ice had brought down a large pine branch across the driveway.  Siskins were chattering away while I sawed it to clear the pavement and when I finished I sat down in front of the backyard feeder to see if they'd come in.  A few did.

They're fairly pugnacious, more than holding their own against the bulkier House Finches.

I think we can all imagine the translation between that exchange.  Less competition on the ground.

Of course if I had gone to Tiscornia instead, here's an artist's rendition of what I might have seen:
Here's hoping it comes back...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

fishing for a phalarope

It's been a good fall for Red Phalarope in Berrien.  Prior to this fall the only 2 Red Phalaropes I'd seen here were about 14 miles off the beach.  Tiscornia is the 3rd place they've been in the county this year though. 

Tim found this one this afternoon.  It fed for a bit, disappeared, and then reappeared not long after I got there with the kids in tow.  It was pretty tame.

It fed actively, frequently investigating spawn bags that had fallen off fishing lures.

 Apparently the fishermen put a marshmallow in the spawn bag to get it to float off the bottom.  The  phalarope discovered that the baggie sinks if you shake out the marshmallow.

The pale legs are reminiscent of Wilson's.

The black (instead of gray) tertials (the white-edged black feathers over the primaries) indicate it's a first fall bird.

 Red-necked Phalarope has a considerably thinner bill and is about half the bulk of Red which can be useful if comparison birds are about, or the bird is in a very familiar setting.    Some Reds will have a noticeable pale base to the lower bill, though this one doesn't.  Red-necked should have some back striping/contrast but I don't have any pics of winter Red-necks though to show the difference.  There are a few retained dark juvenile coverts which could lead to some sense of streaking in this bird.

This was the last of the 3 phalaropes for me for Tiscornia, though Wilson's is probably rarer at this location.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Last of the fall color

Haven't gotten out a ton of late, a few random pics from the fall...

The bluebird's in wild grapes, the next yellow-rumped in a vineyard abutting Royalton Twp park...

Earlier in the fall Tim and I were trying to kick up sparrows.  This Cooper's was also interested in a candidate LeConte's, though for entirely different reasons.

It flew down and walked through the grass looking for the sparrow.  None of us found it.
It was close enough you can almost see my reflection in its eye.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Costa's Hummer

After last month's Berylline, the line-up of rare hummingbirds in Michigan continues, this time in the form of a Costa's found a little south of Traverse City.

It would come and go every 10 minutes or so

It tended to keep its fairly short tail closed tightly, I only managed this pic that even shows half of the spread undertail, I never managed a spread uppertail.  The undertail is plain, as it's supposed to be for a young male.  You can see a little bit of the dark patterning coming in along the outer edges.

Gorgets always show up best when the bird is relatively head on...
 Costa's, like Anna's, has iridescent feathers on the forehead as well.

Finally a digiscoped perched shot.  I've finally figured out (after I got home) how to adjust the white balance on the phone, that would have been useful.  I see the latest Sibley has taken out the line drawings of the closed wing, I don't know why that is...