Thursday, March 22, 2018

Upcoming Events

Vernal Pools Training Sessions
Daria Hyde

     Anyone interested in attending one of the 10:00-3:30 training sessions for monitoring vernal pools should contact Daria Hyde:
     The sessions will be held at the Hemlock Crossing Nature Center in Ottawa County on Friday, April 13, and Saturday, April 21.

April 19 Program
Dragonflies & Damselflies
Dave Dister and Jerry Lang
(See time and place information in the sidebar.)

     The program begins with distinguishing between dragonflies and damselflies, their respective anatomies, biology/life cycles, behaviors, identification in the field, threats, and conservation issues. Subsequently, the bulk of the program consists of species photographs (by families and genera) and discussion on identification points and preferred habitats.
     Dave Dister earned a BA in botany from Miami University and a secondary education certificate in biology and earth science at the University of Cincinnati. He has conducted numerous vascular plant surveys, resulting in many notable discoveries of state-listed plants. From 2009 through 2014 he conducted a vascular plant survey of the 5,300-acre Ludington State Park which was published in The Great Lakes Botanist in 2017. His expertise in field ornithology includes identification of Great Lakes' breeding bird species by songs and call notes. Dave has conducted Breeding Bird Atlas work in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and New York. He also conducted censuses for the Lake Michigan Shoreline Count Bird Count and is the compiler for the Ludington Christmas Bird Count as well as the Spring Migration Count for Mason County. In 2012 he took over an annual Breeding Bird Survey Route for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that runs 25 miles through parts of Mason, Lake and Newaygo Counties.
     Jerry Lang is a member of the Muskegon County Nature Club. He is a native Ohioan and has a PhD in entomology from The Ohio State University. He served 21 years as a medical entomologist in the United States Air Force and worked as an environmental scientist/consultant for an architecture, engineering and planning firm in Dayton for 16 years. (He and Dave worked together for most of those 16 years.) Jerry and his wife Alison have two children and two grandsons. They live in Muskegon near their son's family most of the year and winter in Arizona near their daughter's family.

April 21 Field Trip
Kitchel-Lindquist and Black Lake Parks

Meet from 7:15-8:00 at one of two McDonald's restaurants:

Grand Haven McDonald's with Charlie DeWitt, or
Sternberg Road McDonald's with Ric Pedler

The groups will get together around 8:20 a.m. at the Kitchel-Lindquist Dunes parking lot. (From the Ferrysburg fire department at 174th Ave. and North Shore Drive, take North Shore Drive west for a couple miles and then south about another mile to Berwyck St. Turn left on Berwyck (there's a sign for the park) for 1/10 mile to the small Kitchel-Lindquist parking area. If it's already full, you'll see plenty of North Shore marina parking area just beyond. We will bird Kitchel-Lindquist's sandy trails until mid-morning.

Then we will drive up to Black Lake Park. (From the Ferrysburg fire department, go north up 174th Ave. (Grand Haven Road) to Wilson Road, left (west) on Wilson to Wood Road, then right (north) on Wood about ¼ mile to the park entrance. This park has a good variety of birding habitat in a relatively small area.

The trip will end around noon. The public is welcome.

Wastewater Bluebird Box Monitoring
Anita Friend

     Our club's nest-box-monitoring project runs for fourteen weeks from April 30 until August 3 this year. Volunteers pick one day (Monday-Friday) during the week they sign up for to monitor 50 nest boxes along White Road on the Muskegon County Wastewater properties. 
     Volunteers pick up the monitoring sheets at the front desk of the Administration Office and return them there after monitoring. First-time volunteers ask for Anita Friend and she will show them where to go and how to monitor the boxes.
     Many of you signed up at last month's meeting and we will have the sign-up sheet at each of our meetings for the rest of the year. Remember that Anita will be giving a free bluebird box to each person who monitors the boxes.  
     If you want to participate, call the Wastewater office (231-724-3440) any weekday and ask for Anita to schedule your week for monitoring.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

March 17 Field Trip Report

Eighteen of us birded the Muskegon County Wastewater properties this morning.  We began by driving the rapid-filtration cells.  Then we birded the parking lot by the administration building, drove carefully across the gull-filled center dike and checked the landfill area.

Next stop, the car wash!  Photo by Carol Cooper

Crossing to the southside our caravan turned west at the model airplane field and drove to the end of Laketon.  Swanson being barricaded south of the clay pond, we drove north up Seba and back to the north side.  After checking out the granery, we drove the seldom-traveled road west along the northern portions of the system and then back to headquarters.

Along the way we recorded 46 bird species despite its being a cold day in March.

eBird Report:

Muskegon Wastewater System, Muskegon, Michigan, US
Mar 17, 2018 8:15 AM - 12:30 PM
Protocol: Traveling
17.0 mile(s)
Comments:    Muskegon County Nature Club March Field Trip
46 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  24
Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  2
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)  12
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  6
Redhead (Aythya americana)  1
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)  1
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  7
Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)  2
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  1
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)  1
Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)  9
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  1
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)  1
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  3
Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus)  2    1 dark morph, 1 light morph
Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis)  2
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  5
Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata)  3
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  2000    conservative estimate
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)  36
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon))  3
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  3
Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus)  2    
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)  1
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  1
Northern Shrike (Lanius borealis)  1
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  3
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  9
Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris)  9
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  3
Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)  1
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1
Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)  4
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  5
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  18
American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea)  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  12
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)  1
Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna)  6
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  24
Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)  2
Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)  1
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  9
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  3

Saturday, February 17, 2018

February 17 Field Trip Report

Eleven hardy souls birded three locations this cold cloudy morning.  Ice covered all of Muskegon Lake and the birdable shoreline of Lake Michigan.  The only water was in the Muskegon Channel where we saw thirteen bird species including Redhead, White-winged Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Red-breasted Merganser and Bald Eagle.

Birders at Lake Harbor Park by Carol Cooper

The Mona Lake Channel was also liquid.  We walked the Lake Harbor Park trail out to the Big Lake recording 17 species including Redhead, Greater Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Rock Pigeon (not often seen on field trips) and Red-breasted Nuthatch.

 Redhead in Mona Lake Channel

Female Greater Scaup in Mona Lake Channel

We concluded our morning walking around Black Lake Park where we found 16 species including Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Bluebird and Cedar Waxwing.  

We didn't hear or see any Pileated Woodpeckers, but there was plenty of evidence that they've been around recently!

Including the Wild Turkeys on Lincoln Street near the Nugent railroad siding, we totaled 32 bird species for the day and had a good time doing it.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

January 20 Field Trip Report

Nature Preserve Sunrise by Carol Cooper

Eleven people birded the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve and Snug Harbor this morning; five continued for an additional hour on the Lost Lake Trail.  We recorded 22 bird species for the morning.

photo by Carol Cooper

The 12 species at the preserve included a Belted Kingfisher -- and now we can add #13, a Snowy Owl! -- see Charlie's photographs on our Recent Sightings page.  ...

photo by Carol Cooper

-- eight species at Snug Harbor included Pileated Woodpecker and Bald Eagle, and 12 species on the Lost Lake Trail included a mixed flock of American Goldfinches, Pine Siskins and Common Redpolls plus a dozen Cedar Waxwings.

Three Common Redpolls high above the Lost Lake Trail

One and a quarter Cedar Waxwings

Lost Sunglasses

If you lost your sunglasses at our January 18 meeting, please contact Ric.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Christmas Bird Count Reports

Our club conducted two Christmas Bird Counts this year: the Muskegon Wastewater CBC (Brian Johnson, coordinator) Dec. 20 and the City of Muskegon CBC (Ric Pedler, coordinator) Dec. 23.  Because of their general nature, all reports from these counts are posted on our Recent Sightings page.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

November Field Trip Reports


Twenty-one vehicles transported 45-50 bird-watchers around the Muskegon County Wastewater properties on Friday morning November 17.  Click here.


Six hardy individuals looked for birds from downtown Grand Haven out to the State Park, down to Pigeon River, then over to Hemock Crossing this morning.  We had barely more bird species than participants, but as always a good time.

The species of the morning was Great Black-backed Gull.  Charlie's photo.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Upper Macatawa Field Trip Report

Liz Notman led ten of us around the Upper Macatawa Natural Area this morning.  Other than titmice we found all the usual suspects among our 43 species including Green-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Heron, Northern Harrier, Cooper's and Red-tailed Hawks, Killdeer, Belted Kingfisher, Northern Flicker, Red-bellied, Downy, Hairy and Pileated Woodpeckers, Golden- and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Eastern Bluebird, White-crowned, White-throated, Song and Swamp Sparrows, and various blackbirds (Red-winged, European Starling and Common Grackle). 

We came upon this Praying Mantis along one of the grassy trails.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Montague Field Trip Report

Seven people birded the greater Montague area Saturday morning September 23.  At Henderson Lake they found 15 bird species including Pied-billed Grebe, Green Heron, Winter Wren, Cedar Waxwing and Common Yellowthroat.

Fourteen species were recorded at Clear Springs Nature Preserve including Killdeer, Belted Kingfisher, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe and Brown Creeper.

At Covell Park Trumpeter Swan and Wilson's Warbler were among 9 species, and at Lions Park Marsh Wren and White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows were among 19 total species.

Thanks to Ken Sapkowski for leading the trip and to Tracy Zervos for the species information.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Wastewater Field Trip Report

Ten of us found 60 species of birds on the Wastewater properties this morning.

Notable in the dry cells south of White Road were Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlarks, Grasshopper and Savannah Sparrows, Sandhill Cranes and three swallows (Barn, Tree and Bank).

Bobolink by Charlie DeWitt

Sandhill Cranes by Charlie DeWitt

Around the lagoons we added Blue- and Green-winged Teal, Hooded Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Pied-billed and Eared Grebe, Semipalmated Plover, Least, Pectoral, Semipalmated, Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Red-necked Phalaropes and a Merlin.

Red-necked Phalaropes by Charlie DeWitt

While departing the property we added Belted Kingfisher and Great Egret.

Thanks to Charlie for leading us around, sending us the photographs, and finding the kingfisher, and to Mark for spotting the egret!