Monday, January 9, 2017

January Meeting and Field Trip

January 19 Program

The Ones That Got Away!

Curtis Dykstra will lead us on an entertaining and informative birding excursion by recalling several stories from his birding experiences that involve the frustrations of near misses.  

Curtis graduated from Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, with a degree in Environmental Studies.  Since then he has gained over 17 years of experience as an educator and naturalist.  Curtis has been a teacher, a State Park Ranger in eastern North Carolina, and Assistant Director of Outdoor Education at Camp Roger in Rockford, Michigan.  He currently works as a naturalist for Ottawa County Parks with his office at the Nature Center at Hemlock Crossing County Park.  Curtis is an avid birder and delights in sharing this passion with others.

( See sidebar for times and location. )

January 21 Field Trip

Wastewater and Northside

It's January in Muskegon, so all activities are dependent on the weather.  Assuming it's safe for travel, here's the plan:

Meet leader Charlie DeWitt for coffee and chatter at the McDonald's restaurant on Apple Ave. near US-31 from 7:15-8:00 or at the Muskegon County Wastewater entrance on Maple Island Road around 8:15 a.m.

We will bird the W.W. properties, then head to the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve (North Muskegon just west of the Veteran's Memorial Causeway) to see what birds we can find there.

Many of us will then enjoy an early afternoon lunch together in North Muskegon.

The public is welcome.  Hope to see you there.

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.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

September 17 Field Trip Report

Early morning rains moved out of the area before today's bird walk.  After gathering near the Hoffmaster State Park Pavilion at 8:20, 14 of us drove over to Black Lake Park and walked the trails until 10:00. 

Birding a Black Lake trail. - photo by Travis Dewys

Among the 29 bird species were Northern Flicker, American Redstart, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Red-headed Woodpecker (immature), Swainson's Thrush, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pied-billed Grebe, Cedar Waxwing, Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler and Pine Warbler.

Back at Hoffmaster we saw Baltimore Oriole and Scarlet Tanager females and a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers. Unfortunately only Black-capped Chickadees came to the Bob Moblo Pool behind the Gillette Nature Center during our visit.

Thanks to Feller DeWitt for leading.  For the day we counted 36 species.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

August 20 Field Trip Report

Thanks to Pat Bazany for leading us on a successful field trip today, and knowing when to stop.

At least 20 people in more than 10 cars birded the center section of the Muskegon County Wastewater properties this morning finding over 40 kinds of birds.

The rapid filtration cells along White Road produced Song, Vesper and Savannah sparrows, Dickcissel, Bobolinks (dozens in immature or female plumage), kingbird, meadowlark, Sandhill Crane, Great Blue Heron and Indigo Bunting.

Shorebirds in the two western aeration lagoons and along the big West Lagoon included sandpipers (Least, Semipalmated, Pectoral, Solitary, Baird's, Stilt, Spotted), Lesser Yellowlegs, plovers (Black-bellied, Semipalmated, Killdeer) and Short-billed Dowitchers.

Ducks included Ruddy, Mallard, Gadwall, shovelers and Blue-winged Teal; swallows included Barn, Tree and Cliff; extras included hummingbird, bluebird, vulture, kestrel, Pileated Woodpecker and Red-tailed Hawk.

By 11:30 the sun had long-since disappeared.  Pat called it a day before the fast-approaching purple storm could dampen any part of our trip.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

July 16 Field Trip Report

Ten of us began this morning's field trip at the old Ferguson Farm on East River Road followed by a quick, unsuccessful search for the Prothonotary Warbler at the Cedar Creek bridge on Holton-Duck Lake Road.  Thanks to Charlie DeWitt for the five photos!

 Baltimore Oriole at the farm.

It was a beautiful day and many birds were out, several with their families, especially the Great Crested Flycatchers!

Eastern Wood-Pewee singing near the farm parking lot.

Juvenile Green Heron on the farm footbridge.

Our day concluded with eight people walking along the north bank of the Maple River at State Game Area headquarters.  All told we recorded 47 bird species this morning with totals of 35 at the farm and 21 along the river.

Three of us walking the Maple River two-track.

Highlights at the farm included Hooded Merganser, Green Heron, Sandhill Crane, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Sedge Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Gray Catbird along the Maple River

Species of note along the river included Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Yellow-throated Vireo feeding a fledgling, Eastern Bluebird, Wood Thrush, Blue-winged Warbler feeding a fledgling, American Redstart, Chipping Sparrow (many juveniles) and Indigo Bunting (at least 1 female and 3 males).