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!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Ferguson Farm and Walleye Ponds Trip Report

Fifteen Thirteen of us enjoyed a morning of birding north of the Muskegon River today.

Group south of the Ferguson Farm bridge by Charlie DeWitt

We counted 37 species at the old Ferguson Farm (State Game Area property south of River Road north of Lane's Landing) including Wood Duck, six Blue-winged Teal, lotsa Green Herons, a startled American Woodcock, Belted Kingfisher, Red-headed Woodpecker, Yellow-throated Vireo, Prothotary Warbler, American Redstart, Indigo Bunting and Baltimore Oriole.

Viewing the Prothonotary Warbler from the bridge.

Seven of the 25 species at Holton Duck Lake Road from the bridge south to the abandoned walleye ponds at the Muskegon River were new for the day including Sandhill Crane, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Cedar Waxwing and this Turkey Vulture sunning its wings:

Carol Cooper counted 25 species of wildflowers including these three: Blue Vervain, Trout Lily and Teasel: 

Thanks to Ken Sherburn for casing the road construction beforehand and leading this morning's trip!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Allegan State Game Area Field Trip Report

June 10, 2017
Allegan State Game Area
Leader: Ken Sapkowski

Ken led our group of six to two locations at the Allegan State Game Area.  First we birded a trail along Swan Creek west of 44th Street, then the fields along 59th St. south of 118th Ave. before eating a late lunch at the Crane's Orchard Pie Pantry Restaurant on M-89 west of Fennville.

Birds of note among the 39 species were Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Acadian Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, Cedar Waxwing, Ovenbird, Worm-eating Warbler (we spent lots of time catching brief glimpses of this constantly-singing bird), Louisiana Waterthrush, Chestnut-sided and Pine Warblers, Grasshopper Sparrow, Dickcissel and Bobolink.

Remarkably on our way home John Walhout and I stopped briefly along the north end of the New Richmond bridge finding exactly four species, none of which were found earlier at the State Game Area: Prothonotary Warbler, Cliff Swallow, Chipping Sparrow and American Robin.  Go figure!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Berrien County Field Trip Report

May 6-7
Berrien County Bonus Field Trip

Ken Sapkowski led 12 of us around Warren Dunes and Warren Woods State Parks, Three Oaks, Galien County Park and the Kessling Preserve.  Saturday and Sunday were both beautiful but very cool and quite windy, which undoubtedly kept the birds down.

Nevertheless we found many wonderful birds (I added 26 species to my Michigan Year List) including Northern and Louisiana Waterthrushes, Scarlet Tanager, Swainson's Thrush, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eurasian Collared Dove, Common and Forster's Terns and Prairie Warbler.

 Galien River

 On the bridge at Warren Woods State Park

 Yellow-rumped Warbler at Warren Dunes State Park

 Rose-breasted Grosbeak at Warren Dunes State Park

Prairie Warbler at Warren Dunes State Park

Sunday, April 23, 2017

April 22 Field Trip Report

Twenty people participated in this morning's field trip to Grand River Park in eastern Ottawa County.  Ric's sincere apologies to those who got wet feet after we promised no such thing.

The Young ...

... and the Not-As-Young

We were amazed to see the Grand River within its banks this morning.  On our "dry run" for this trip on April 11 the water was approximately at this yellow line:

After birding along the river, we might have been wiser to head to Grand Ravines Park North.  Our feet were dry until we walked the trails south and away from the river.  Go figure.

On the brighter side, we did find 42 species of birds this lovely cool day including black-billed swans (3 Tundra/Trumpeters flew over us at the boat launch ramp), Double-crested Cormorant, Red-tailed Hawk (4 presumably migrating overhead), Virginia Rail (calling north of the parking lot), Sandhill Crane, Belted Kingfisher, Pileated Woodpecker, Barn Swallow, Brown Creeper, House Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Bluebird, American Tree Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Eastern Towhee and Eastern Meadowlark.

Heading southwest we came upon a Garter Snake, perhaps a sign that we should turn around?  

Hopefully everyone enjoyed the morning.  The park had lots of birds today; imagine what it will have in May!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Two Upcoming Events

May 5-7 Bonus Field Trip
Berrien County
Ken Sapkowski

Many of us will be watching for spring migrants at several Berrien County locations this first weekend in May.  Those of you who have received Ken's emails regarding this trip will get another no later than Thursday, April 13, or contact Ken.  Anyone not on Ken's email list who would like to be added should contact Ken or Ric.

Still Want to Count Birds on May 13?

Although the North American Migration Count no longer exists, Brian Johnson is still interested in collecting Muskegon County bird information on the second Saturday of May.  Some people who used to census birds for the N.A.M.C. will continue birding their same locations and sending their numbers to Brian.  If you would like to be part of this, please contact Brian or Ric.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

March 18 Field Trip Report

Despite the drizzly gloomy conditions, six of us certifiably foolish overly gungho dedicated birdwatchers headed out to the Wastewater properties on Saturday the 18th to find what we could find.

Among the 35 bird species we located in 2 hours and 20 minutes of driving around the properties were American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Golden Eagle, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Bald Eagle (immature flying by Carol Cooper),

Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, Herring Gull (portraits by Charlie DeWitt),

Pileated Woodpecker, American Kestrel, Horned Lark, American Robin, Song Sparrow and Eastern Meadowlark.

Here also is a shot Charlie took through thick foliage of a Ruffed Grouse along the Lane's Landing road on March 15:

- Ric

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

HWA Training at Hoffmaster

Heidi Frei and other members of the Michigan DNR conducted an indoor/outdoor training session about Hemlock Woolly Adelgid this afternoon at Hoffmaster State Park.

Most of the trainees were land-manager-types, but there were a few birders as well: Curtis Dykstra, Dick Good, Jill Henemyer and Ric Pedler.

Good News / Bad News for our own Dick Good; he found some HWA on a hemlock in the north campground area.

DNR officer tagging the branch where Dick found the adelgid.

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.