Sunday, May 26, 2019

thank goodness for Turnstones

Otherwise I don't think there'd be ANY shorebirds in Berrien county that have had a reasonable showing this spring.  They're a species I usually get in the spring, though is more reliable in the fall.  I've had them at least 3 times this year so far.  This pair was at Tiscornia earlier in the week.

The first bird looks to be an adult male.

The bird it was with was a lot farther behind in the moult with good numbers of worn retained winter feathers.
Whether that's because the second bird is female, younger, or both I don't know.

And the world needs grackle pics too!  (Though it helps if they contain a turnstone)...

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Birdathon 2019

The pressure was off this year with Tim back.  Some pre-dawn rain led us to ad-lib the night schedule, but a singing Black-billed Cuckoo argued that despite the mileage there were some decent birds out there.  I had hoped that the rain would knock down migrants and Kesling and Lakeside were as active as I've seen them all spring with Golden-winged, Cape May, and Bay-breasted among others.  The rest of the morning stops were less active however and we worked hard at Floral to pick up some of the missing species but not find much in the way of surprises.  An Acadian Flycatcher at Floral was probably the best (of not many) pics from the morning.

Reports of a possible Pacific Loon threw our route off again.  We found only a pair of first spring Commons (though from a big day standpoint Common is as good as Pac Loon).  We made our 3rd loop through the south county.  Shorebirds have been hard this year, but we had SB Dowitchers in 3 locations through the day.
Did you notice the Least in front and left of the lead dowitcher?  Gotta find them all on a Big Day!

The evening saw us grinding after remaining possibilities as a front blew through.  Check out the wind-blown scapulars on this Sanderling.

We ended with 151 birds (it would have been 152 if we could have counted a whip-poor-will that was singing at 1130 before the rain started).  One of the misses?  Moorhen.  We looked hard for it along the Paw Paw river Saturday without success; today it was visible in my first sweep of the bins...

Thursday, May 16, 2019

next stop Birdathon

Well aside from a young Summer Tanager early in the month I've had exactly zero luck with the uncommon passerines, so maybe they're just all being stored up for Saturday.  And with Yellow-rumped Warblers still around, there's perhaps still hope that a decent amount of migrants are still to come.

Black-and-white is definitely in the early cohort too.

It's been a great spring for Black-throated Blue, I think I've seen or at least heard them just about every time I've been out.

Parula is a song I enjoy too.

I feel like I haven't seen as many Chestnut-sideds as I usually do

And beware the Redstarts.  They can sound like half the book and herald the beginning of the end of migration...

Monday, May 13, 2019

Golden Swamp in Warren Woods

It's not exactly news that the Galien (and all the other) Rivers are pretty high right now.  A couple posts ago I mentioned how rails are pretty visible right now as they're getting pushed to the marshes' periphery by high water.  Well, that may just go for warblers too.  I've only heard Prothonotary Warbler once before in Warren Woods, but a "Golden Swamp Warbler" appeared at river's edge this morning.


A Louisiana Waterthrush that had been singing away overhead decided it wanted its portrait taken too and appeared out of nowhere in front of me.

Nothing like best pics ever of not one but two different warbler species in one morning!

Magnolia isn't a bird a person thinks of along a shoreline, but some days that's where the bugs are!

Thursday, May 9, 2019


It's nice for May to finally be up and going.

May means migrants like this Blue-headed Vireo

More along the lines of best-ever-vireo pics, here's a Warbling that had probably arrived an hour before I took the pic

Wood thrush is one of the sounds that I really associate with the spring.

And of course there have to be some warbler pics this time of the year.  I haven't yet had a ton that have been all that close, but there've been a few...

Black-throated Blue has a knack for staying in the shadows

Sunday, May 5, 2019

go to the marsh

When there's no warblers in the woods (we'll see if some south winds change that on Monday) the marshes have been a lot more interesting. 

And maybe there'll be warblers in the marsh!
Though Yellow doesn't really count since they're resident in the summer.

Coots aren't actually that common in the summer (or on Birdathon) so we'll see if this nest lasts the weekend (I have vague hopes for Birdathon, but if the nest is easy for me to see you'd think an opportunistic crow or mink would thing the same thing).

There've been a lot of rails visible with all the flooding, but I haven't really worked that hard for Sora or Virginia pics.  This moorhen flushed as I walked a golf course boardwalk though.

Muskrats are pretty much everywhere.

Bitterns on the other hand aren't.  We heard this one quietly oomping in the marsh, though it didn't get into the oomp-a-loonk that they'll do farther north.  It flushed and I took a few shots while frantically spinning up the ISO dial with the sun still well below the horizon.

It started coming up after a bit.

Will tomorrow's sunrise bring migrants at last?  Stay tuned...

Friday, May 3, 2019

avocets in the grass

While I see avocets in the county most years, I've never had one away from the lakefront before.  Tim found a small flock at a pristine little prairie pothole ... errr a flooded vacant lot in Benton Harbor this afternoon.

The cinnamon heads of breeding plumage did not disappoint.

There were 7 birds total (shot here through the windshield)

Finally a White-throated Sparrow pic from this morning (because what else are you going to photograph when all the warblers are still in southern Ohio)