Monday, October 5, 2015

October Program and Field Trip

October 15 Program
Amazing Wanderers
Bill Sweetman

Bill Sweetman will present our October 15 program "Amazing Wanderers" about the fascinating travels of birds.  He will explore the marvels of bird migration beginning with locally common species before moving to newly-discovered world-spanning migrations of a number of sea and shorebird species.  He will discuss why birds migrate, how they navigate, and new methods of tracking their movements.

Bill is a retired teacher having taught all levels of biology for 43 years. Growing up in New Jersey, his interest in birds spans more than fifty years. Bill is a member of the American Birding Association and the National, Michigan and Grand Rapids Audubon Societies. He enjoys participating in birding projects such as gathering data for Cornell University and the Michigan Breeding Bird Atlas and conducting a Breeding Bird Survey route for the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service in Wexford County. He is a frequent field trip leader for Grand Rapids Audubon and for the CALL (seniors) program at Calvin College. Upon retirement in 2001, he developed Bsweettours LLC, an ecotourism business, leading several tours a year to birding hotspots throughout the United States.

October 17 Field Trip
Black Lake and Hoffmaster Parks
Charlie DeWitt

Meet 7:15-8:00 on Saturday morning at the McDonald's restaurant on Sternberg Road near the Harvey Street Meijer for coffee and chatter.

At 8:00 we will drive to Black Lake Park on Wood Road east of Little Black Lake to walk the trails through woodland and field habitats and to view whatever waterbirds might be on the lake.

Later we will drive over to Hoffmaster State Park and bird some trails there. We plan to conclude at noon.

Everyone is welcome. Hope to see you there.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

September 19 Field Trip Report

The rain stopped before our monthly field trip began.  Seven of us walked the protected trails of the Kitchell-Lindquist Dunes Preserve and the windy north side of the Grand Haven Channel this morning recording 30 species of birds.

In the woods of the preserve we saw Swainson's Thrush, Blue-headed Vireo, a female Scarlet Tanager and some warblers including Yellow-rumped Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Harrier and Red-tailed Hawk migrated overhead.

The highlight was a sleeping Eastern Whip-Poor-Will brought to our attention by a mobbing group of chickadees and nuthatches that must have mistaken it for a raptor.

Merlin greeted us at the north pier parking lot and seven Sanderling fought the strong winds while foraging along the Lake Michigan shoreline north of the pier.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

August 15 Field Trip Report

Twelve of us (not counting unexcused tardy individuals) birded the Wastewater properties this morning without seeing a single Tree Swallow!.

 Photo by Carol Cooper

We recorded 50 bird species (49 not including the pair of Egyptian Geese in Churning Lagoon #3, or 51 including the eight phalaropes in non-breeding plumage swimming too far out on the West Lagoon to I.D.) notably Blue-winged Teal, Hooded Merganser, Sandhill Crane, White-rumped Sandpiper (SE corner of East Lagoon), Bank, Barn & Cliff Swallows, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Cedar Waxwing, Dickcissel, Bobolink and a Common Raven flying from the landfill to a sprinkler unit east of Swanson where it "crawked".

 Great Blue Heron by Carol DeWitt

Without enough dry habitat in Churning Lagoon #2 shorebirds were confined to the small lagoon (#5) and the edges of the big lagoons.  We gave eBird 24 Killdeer, 9 Spotted Sandpiper, 1 Greater Yellowlegs, 12 Lesser Yellowlegs, 6 Least, 1 White-rumped, 1 Pectoral and 1 Semipalmated Sandpiper.  Sparrows were limited to 2 Chipping, 4 Field and 9 Song.

Bobolink by Charlie DeWitt

As always, lots of fun birding with a great group of people on a beautiful day!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

July 18 Allegan Field Trip Report

The original plan was to walk a one-mile loop on the Allegan State Game Area in the morning followed by lunch at the Crane's Orchard Restaurant.  Instead (thanks to an impressive and beautiful storm front), we headed up to Crane's as the rains came, then returned to the SGA for a partial walk at midday after the skies had cleared.

Led by Feller DeWitt, nine of us recorded 26 bird species including a pair of Red-tailed Hawks, a pair of Eastern Towhees, families of Tree Swallows and Eastern Kingbirds, 20 Sandhill Cranes, 3 Dickcissels, Barn Swallows, Eastern Bluebirds, Cedar Waxwings and plenty of sparrows (Field, Grasshopper, Chipping and Song).

Pardon the blurry images, but prior to the storm this Dickcissel sat for pictures, showing off his rubber-necked ability to preen.

Do not try this at home!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

June 20 Snug Harbor Field Trip Report

Our group of twelve found 50 bird species at Snug Harbor (Muskegon State Park) this beautiful morning.  See the complete report and pictures posted today on our Recent Sightings page.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

May 30 Montague Field Trip Report

Rains were light to moderate as Dayle Vanderwier led five people (Henderson Preserve) and four people (Clear Springs Preserve) bird-watching northeast of Montague this morning. 

No cardinals or chickadees all day!  No ducks either, though it was a good day for them.  Of the fourteen species at Henderson, notable were Green Heron, Cedar Waxwing and Black-billed Cuckoo.  Of the twelve species at Clear Springs, the Belted Kingfisher and a Magnolia Warbler were the highlights.

Of the three species outside the windows of the Harbor View Grille in Whitehall during lunch, best were the 12+ Chimney Swifts.

Despite the damp conditions, everyone had a good time!

Hope to see you on our summer field trips (see side bar for dates and places).

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 23 Big Day Count Report

Another very large THANK YOU to all nineteen people who took part in our Big Day Count Saturday (May 23, 2015).  A special thanks to Marc Miedema for bringing his little tape player and Travis Dewys for taking photos of the event.

It was cold and the birds were not easily gotten.  Here are the 108 bird species that we found and where we found them:

Lane's Landing:  American Robin, Whip-poor-will, Northern Cardinal, Wood Thrush, Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow Warbler, Swamp Sparrow, American Woodcock, Pied-billed Grebe, Canada Goose, Common Yellowthroat, Gray Catbird, Wood Duck, Red-winged Blackbird, Willow Flycatcher, Mourning Dove, Common Grackle, Sandhill Crane, Marsh Wren, European Starling, Mallard, Tree Swallow, Wild Turkey, Alder Flycatcher, Northern Flicker, Song Sparrow, Least Flycatcher, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, American Goldfinch, Great Crested Flycatcher, American Crow, Red-eyed Vireo, American Redstart, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Tufted Titmouse, Eastern Wood-pewee, Black-capped Chickadee, Baltimore Oriole, Downy Woodpecker, Indigo Bunting, Brown-headed Cowbird, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Warbling Vireo, Eastern Kingbird, Sora, Barn Swallow, Least Bittern, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Blue Jay, Brown Thrasher, Double-crested Cormorant and Turkey Vulture.

Muskegon County Wastewater System:  Killdeer, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Shoveler, Eastern Meadowlark, Dunlin, Semipalmated Plover, Bank Swallow, Blue-winged Teal, Grasshopper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Brewer's Blackbird, Wilson's Snipe, Horned Lark, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Redhead, Lesser Scaup, Ruddy Turnstone, Least Sandpiper, Herring Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Bufflehead, Greater Scaup, American Wigeon, Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper, Rock Pigeon, White-rumped Sandpiper, Ruddy Duck, Belted Kingfisher, American Coot, Eared Grebe, ** Black Scoter **, Bald Eagle, Horned Grebe and Bonaparte's Gull.

State Game Area Headquarters:  House Wren, Eastern Bluebird, Scarlet Tanager, House Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Blue-winged Warbler, Bobolink, American Bittern, Vesper Sparrow and Upland Sandpiper.

Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve:  Caspian Tern and Mute Swan.

Snug Harbor:  Common Loon.

Muskegon Channel across from USS Silversides:  Purple Martin.

Ellis Road:  Eastern Phoebe and Chipping Sparrow.

- Feller DeWitt

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Final Club Meeting of This Season

Our annual potluck picnic meeting was Thursday May 21 at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve pavilion.  Everyone enjoyed the food, companionship and a bird walk afterward on a cool, beautiful evening.

Thanks to Carol Cooper for many of the preparations, the cake and these photos from the event.

New Book on Birds of Ottawa County

A new book, Birds of Ottawa County, Michigan: An Annotated Checklist, includes the most up-to-date information on the 328 species of birds that have been observed in Ottawa County over the years. Each species account includes current breeding status and describes when the bird is present in the county and how likely you are to see each species at the appropriate time of the year. There is additional information on range, natural history and locations for many species. There are also seasonal bar graphs for each species that quickly show when each bird is present and how common it is when it is present. In addition to the species accounts and graphs, the book lists over 20 of the best birding locations and provides valuable information about birding in Ottawa County.
The book is coauthored by Chip Francke, Carl Manning, and Judi Manning. The authors volunteered all their time writing and researching this publication. Ottawa County Parks funded the project and all proceeds from book sales will go to the Ottawa County Parks Nature Education Center.
The book is beautifully illustrated by Michigan artist Amelia Hansen including an original color painting of Pileated Woodpeckers for the front cover. Over 25 of her excellent black and white bird illustrations are found throughout this publication. Amelia was chosen to be the 2015 International Migratory Bird Day artist. You can see more of her work at the Ottawa County Parks Nature Education Center. Local Muskegon graphic designer Amy Gustin completed the layout of the book and created the seasonal bar graphs.

The 156 page book costs $14.95 and can be purchased at the Ottawa County Parks Nature Education Center located at Hemlock Crossing County Park in Port Sheldon Township (closed Monday). For more information, please call 616-786-4847.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Howard Christensen Field Trip Report

Five of us enjoyed Greg Swanson's guided tour of the Howard Christensen Nature Center this morning.  

Of 49 bird species, we found only seven warblers (Blue-winged, Nashville, Black-throated Green, American Redstart, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush and Common Yellow-throat).  Not even a Yellow!  And no bluebirds!

Notables included the waterthrush, Ruffed Grouse, Common Raven and Olive-sided Flycatcher.  Others were Green Heron, Red-shouldered Hawk, Sandhill Crane, Great Crested Flycatcher (vocalizing all over the property, including a pair at their nest), Veery, Wood Thrush, Eastern Towhee, Indigo Bunting and Scarlet Tanager.

That's the least-blurry tanager photo.  Greg suggested I post the blurriest as a Vermillion Flycatcher:

And if you believed that, then you'll also believe that these are birds:

Suffice that we enjoyed everything from snails to frogs to pigs (Penelope) this beautiful spring morning.

- Ric