Friday, February 24, 2017

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Training March 7

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) has been confirmed at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park.  This is the first detection on state land. 

In the next few weeks, we will be increasing our survey efforts so that we may develop our plan for management of this infestation.  DNR Parks and Recreation Division relies heavily upon our strong volunteer base in west Michigan and are hoping that you can assist us in this important effort.  We share many of the same volunteers with the partner organizations included on this email and encourage you to participate as well. 

The goal of this training session is to provide some basic background on HWA and provide training for public land managers and our volunteers to help expand the survey effort.  This session is directed at those that will be performing surveys with the DNR, Land Conservancy of West Michigan, Michigan Nature Association, County Parks and Recreation departments and other like partners in the region.  We will host a similar survey training in Berrien county with the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy. 

Space will be limited so we ask that you email me beforehand at my email address below! - Heidi

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Survey Training will be held on Tuesday, March 7 from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm. 

We will meet at Hoffmaster State Park's Gillette Visitor Center for an overview of HWA before heading into the field to cover sampling protocol.  Depending on time, we may visit a location with active HWA.  If time does not allow, we will bring the samples to the Visitor Center. 

Presenters:  Heidi Frei, DNR PRD; Sean Simonson, DNR PRD
Heidi M. Frei
Natural Resources Steward, SW Michigan
Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources
Parks and Recreation Division, Stewardship Unit
517.202.1360 cell

I am generally in the office Wednesday through Friday.  On Saturdays and Sundays I am working with volunteers in our State Parks and Recreation Areas.  I will respond to your email as soon as I'm back in the office.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

February 18 Field Trip Report

Today was a beautiful "early spring" day, sunny and cool with temperatures in the forties and several first-wave-of-migration birds.  And it's February!

The warmth meant few waterbirds at Grand Haven.  Highlights included a Herring Gull (don't ask), Cedar Waxwings and both mergansers.

Pigeon Lake provided Red-winged Blackbirds and a Common Grackle.

(Birding is a dirty and thankless job.)

The Hemlock Crossing feeders were virtually birdless!  So our group of thirteen walked along the Pigeon River in hopes of finding the Northern Mockingbird.  No luck on the mocker, but on the walk back we enjoyed three Sandhill Cranes circling and calling overhead.

The woods were alive with the spring voices of chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and unpiliated woodpeckers.  A Red-tailed Hawk soared overhead.

At noon a beautiful Bald Eagle circled us as we said our good-byes in the nature center parking lot.  Seven people then headed for home.

Five others took a circuitous route to farm fields southeast where Curtis Dykstra told us Horned Larks would be singing and displaying.  We found several singing but were able to see only a few.  When on the ground, they were invisible.  Five did fly up and around us in what may have been some kind of display.

All told this field trip recorded 30 species.  Thanks to Feller for leading, to Curtis for the information, to Carol for the pictures, and to everybody for the excellent company!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

January 21 Field Trip Report

Seven of us followed Charlie DeWitt around the Muskegon County Wastewater properties this unseasonably warm morning, walked the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve, and enjoyed pizza at Bernio's in North Muskegon on Charlie DeWitt's field trip.  Foggy, cloudy conditions persisted until we left the restaurant.

Notable among the 17 species at the Wastewater were Gadwall, American Black Duck, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Snowy Owl, Lapland Longspur and Snow Bunting

Snowy Owl

The Nature Preserve gave us 15 species including Common Merganser, Bald Eagle, Golden-crowned Kinglet, American Robin and American Tree Sparrow.

American Tree Sparrow

Golden-crowned Kinglet by Casey Irwin

After the trip ended, Casey continued out to the Muskegon Channel and saw this raft of Long-tailed Ducks:

- Ric

Friday, January 20, 2017

Carol Cooper Wins the 2016 Contest

Our Birding Contest has a new winner.  Carol Cooper was presented the 2016 trophy at last night's meeting.  She saw more bird species last year in Muskegon and Ottawa Counties than anyone else in our club.  (Thanks as always to Dee DeWitt for creating the wonderful prize!)

Carol receives her trophy from Ric Pedler.
(photo by Charlie DeWitt)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2016 Muskegon Christmas Bird Count

Fifteen people spent several hours censusing birds in Muskegon County on December 17, 2016.  In three basic groups (north, central and south) they found 3,632 birds of 57 species.  These numbers were submitted to the National Audubon Society as part of the Christmas Bird Count conducted annually all over North America.

Highlights within the count circle (15 miles in diameter centered downtown) included a Double-crested Cormorant on "Nugent Lake", 668 Mallards, 953 Long-tailed Ducks on Lake Michigan, 3 merganser species (Hooded, Common and Red-breasted), 3 grebe species (Pied-billed, Horned and Red-necked), a Killdeer at Muskegon State Park, 24 Eastern Bluebirds, 8 American Robins and a Partridge in a Pear Tree a Song Sparrow at the Snug Harbor boat launch.

On January 7 Brian Johnson posted a detailed report of our December 21 Wastewater CBC.  Click here.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Please Remove Bird Feeders from Hemlocks

December 8 Email:


The DNR has just issued a request of all Visitor Centers and offices in the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid hotspots here along the Lake Michigan shoreline to remove all bird feeders from areas adjacent to or near Hemlock trees in an effort to control the spread.  It might be a good idea to let your members know that it is recommended to remove bird feeders from home yards with Eastern Hemlock in an effort to protect those trees from the spread of Hemlock Wooly Adelgid.  It is a known fact that birds carry the crawlers and spread the infection.

Thanks for spreading the word.  Happy Holidays.

- Elizabeth Brockwell-Tillman, 
  Hoffmaster State Park

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Southeast Texas Program at Kalamazoo

Ric Pedler pondering a question during last night's program for the Kalamazoo Audubon Society at People's Church.  It featured photographs by Charlie DeWitt, Carol DeWitt and Ric from our bird-watching trips to southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

November 19 Field Trip Report

Six mentally-questionable bird-watchers recorded a total of four bird species on our November field trip this beautiful, calm, warm Saturday morning: Rock Pigeons at McDonald's, Mallards at Bear Lake Channel, Mute Swans at Snug Harbor and Gulls (sp) north of the Muskegon Channel. 

Photographs cannot convey the glorious ... oh, forget it!  :-)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Hemlocks / Watershed / Land Conservancy

Three important items were presented at our October meeting.  The web links mentioned at our November meeting are included here:

1.  Thanks to Elizabeth Brockwell-Tillman (Hoffmaster State Park) and Heidi Frei (Michigan DNR) for briefly describing the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid problem now facing us in West Michigan.  (Heidi will present more details at our Nov. 17 meeting.)  There are presently outbreaks in Holland, Norton Shores and Whitehall.  All birders should be looking for this pest and reporting their sightings.  Learn more here and here.

2.  Kathy Evans of the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission needs volunteers to help with Muskegon Lake Watershed Restoration projects and marsh monitorings.  Click here for more information.

3.  Our program was presented by Joe Engel, executive director of the West Michigan Land Conservancy.  He will be contacting us in future regarding such things as bird, plant, and insect surveys on conservancy properties in the Greater Muskegon area.  Learn more about the conservancy here.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

October 22 Field Trip Report

Fourteen people, most wise enough to dress for temperatures considerably lower than the forecast 50's, birded two northside areas yesterday morning.

Around Snug Harbor at Muskegon State Park they recorded 29 species including Green-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, American Coot, Pileated Woodpecker, Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, sparrows (American Tree, Chipping and Song), Dark-eyed Junco and Purple Finch.  

Later at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve they watched Brian Johnson banding kinglets, chickadees, a titmouse and tree sparrows.  Additional species at the preserve included an unidentified hawk and thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Common Grackle and Belted Kingfisher.