Saturday, April 17, 2021

April 17 Field Trip Report

Despite health issues preventing the originally-scheduled leaders from attending, five club members with seven others spent three hours this morning looking for birds at the Upper Macatawa Natural Area near Zeeland.  

Notable sightings included American bittern, sora, Virginia rail, swamp sparrow and blue-gray gnatcatcher.  If we receive any photos from the trip, we will post them here. 

Thursday, April 8, 2021

May Events Down to One

  Our last scheduled meeting of this Covid-ruined season is canceled.  We will not hold the potluck picnic in May.  This also means there will be no Election of Officers in May.  We will have a Big Day Count on May 15.  

Details about the election, Big Day, and our summer field trips will be posted later.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

March 20 Field Trip Report

Nine human adults and three juveniles searched for birds at two locations this cold sunny morning.  Rusty Blackbird was our "species of the day".  We saw at least 18 along the south bank of the Maple River.  In years past, hundreds were common early in the spring at this location, but since then their numbers have crashed worldwide, so these were very good birds to see!

Rusty Blackbirds by Charlie DeWitt

Other notable species among our 23 total were Wood Duck, Sandhill Crane, Killdeer, Wilson's Snipe and Bald Eagle.  At 7:00, an hour before the trip began, Charlie DeWitt heard American Woodcock near the yellow gate at the end of Messinger Road. 

Birding the "snipe field" west of DNR headquarters by Charlie DeWitt

Later we drove around the Muskegon Wastewater properties.  Among our 33 bird species were seven common ducks, a lethargic Trumpeter Swan, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, Killdeer, Common Redpoll, Eastern Meadowlark, Common Grackle and Brown-headed Cowbird.

A pair of Buffleheads by Charlie DeWitt

Sunday, February 21, 2021

February 20 Field Trip Report

Six of us birded three locations this cold February morning.  Pushing through the snow at the first two locations produced few birds: Eleven species at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve including two hawks (Red-shouldered and Coopers) and four at Snug Harbor (including Eastern Bluebird and Pileated Woodpecker).  Charlie did see two American Robins along the way.

Sunrise at the Preserve by Carol Cooper

Birders at the Channel by Carol Cooper

Birds were more plentiful at the north wall of the Muskegon Channel.  We counted a few hundred individuals of eleven species: Mute Swan, Tundra Swan, Mallard, Redhead, Greater Scaup, White-winged Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Common Merganser, Herring Gull, Bald Eagle and Tufted Titmouse.  

Tundra Swans with Iced Beaks by Charlie DeWitt

Tug Boat Breaking Muskegon Lake Ice by Charlie DeWitt

Swans Scattering from the Tug Boat by Charlie DeWitt

Greater Scaup Takes Flight by Charlie DeWitt

Sunday, January 24, 2021

January 23 Field Trip Report

Wearing masks and social-distancing, eight of us birded three locations this morning.  Our group found some good birds, but three of the more remarkable species were not seen by everyone.

Long before the trip began, Charlie heard an Eastern Screech Owl near the east end of the Muskegon Channel.  Later in the same area we found eight other species including Long-tailed Duck, Red-breasted and Common Merganser, and Herring and Ring-billed Gull (some with their undersides beautifully lighted by the morning sunrise).

Sunrise by Carol Cooper

At the south breakwall of Pere Marquette Park we missed some White-winged Scoters reported soon after we left.  We did see eight species including Greater Scaup, Redhead, Long-tailed Duck and Bald Eagle.

After driving to Lake Harbor Park, we walked the trail along the Mona Lake Channel out to Lake Michigan.

Mona Lake Channel birders by Carol Cooper

Along the way we found 11 bird species including Pileated Woodpecker and our best view of Long-tailed Ducks.

Long-tailed Ducks by Charlie DeWitt

Carol saw an American Robin on the way to Black Lake Park, our final destination.  Our group found eight species there, none out of the ordinary, and dozens of ice fishermen on the lake.  A nice morning outing despite the cold weather and Covid precautions!

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Meetings Canceled / Field Trips Continued

The most optimistic forecast predicts late April as the time by which most ordinary Michigan citizens will have received their Covid vaccinations.  Until then, indoor congregations would of course be unnecessarily dangerous if not illegal.  So instead of continuing to announce month-by-month the status of our meetings/programs, we're canceling them now through April.  Grand Rapids Audubon and Holland Audubon have already announced similar plans.

Whether we hold the outdoor potluck picnic meeting on May 20 is still undecided.  In a few months if we decide to have it, we will contact Michigan State Parks to reserve the Snug Harbor pavilion again.

Meanwhile we will continue our monthly field trips on the dates of our original schedule, but with social-distancing, masks if appropriate, and without car-pooling once the trips begin.   How we conduct the May 15 Big Day Count is still anybody's guess.

Christmas Bird Count Updates

Although there were no official meetings of people (or lunches at the Cherokee or Grandma's Griddle Restaurants), we still obtained some decent bird numbers on the Muskegon County Wastewater CBC December 16 and the City of Muskegon CBC December 19.  Numbers for the City CBC were compiled for the official North American records and keep our club's participation in Christmas Bird Counts unbroken since we first began a long time ago.

Five people submitted numbers to Brian Johnson for the Dec. 16 Wastewater count.  Pleasant weather helped produce respectable numbers and good quality.  Rough-legged Hawks were seen by all; Wild Turkeys by nobody!  Excellent species included Rusty Blackbird and Short-eared Owl.  Totals were 57 species and 10,197 individuals.

Eight people submitted numbers from 14 locations within 7.5 miles of downtown Muskegon on Dec. 19.  Two species had not been recorded on previous Muskegon CBC's for at least 25 years: White-crowned Sparrow (at the Causeway Marsh) and Wood Duck (along Rood Road in Norton Shores).  A total of 3,059 individual birds were reported among the 49 total species.  

Sunday, October 18, 2020

October 17 Field Trip Report

Nine of us met at Snug Harbor Saturday morning to bird that area and the trail out to Lost Lake.

Birders at Sunrise by Carol Cooper

Looking at LBJ's by Carol Cooper

There were many Little Brown Jobs along the way, some eventually identified as sparrows (Song, Swamp, White-crowned-, White-throated-) or thrushes (mostly Hermits, one Swainson's).

Swamp Sparrow by Charlie DeWitt

Hermit Thrush by Charlie DeWitt

An adult Bald Eagle flew around the harbor early and this third-year bird perched and flew around Lost Lake later:

Bald Eagle by Charlie DeWitt

A female Rose-breasted Grosbeak watched us as we returned on the Lost Lake Trail.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak by Charlie DeWitt

Other species included Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets; Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied and Pileated Woodpeckers; Belted Kingfisher; Winter Wren; Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawk, Eastern Bluebird; and Wood Duck.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Meetings, Programs, Field Trips, and CBC's

Unfortunately Covid conditions will prevent our conducting indoor meetings and programs for the indefinite future.  The November meeting is canceled.

We will hold our November 21 field trip following social-distancing guidelines.  Further details will be posted on this page.

The National Audubon Society will announce by November 15 whether Christmas Bird Counts will be canceled this year or conducted following proper Covid safety procedures.  That message will be posted on this page.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

September 19 Field Trip Report

Eight of us enjoyed this cold sunny morning at two locations.  We began with temperatures in the 30's at the northside of the Grand Haven Channel.  During our 90 minutes we identified only 10 species, but a few of those made the morning special.

After seeing what was probably the Redknot, a Common Tern (photo above), and a smaller shorebird further out the wall, we walked in that direction.  Just after we realized that the smaller bird was a Buff-breasted Sandpiper, ...

... it was chased off the wall by a Merlin!  For almost a minute the falcon chased the sandpiper northwest over Lake Michigan, zigging and zagging and almost catching it before giving up the chase.

Walking back we enjoyed good views of this Black-bellied Plover.

Then someone noticed that the Buff Breasted Sandpiper had returned to the wall west of us.  It was a Lifer species for some on this trip!  Beth walked all the way back to the bird, lay down on her side, and snapped the bird up close and personal.

Afterward we headed over to the Ottawa Sands County Park.  

There we encountered the Ottawa County field trip group and found (by my count) 33 bird species.  Notable among these were several Wood Duck and a Green Heron hiding in marshy cover, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Sharp-shinned Hawk (2 migrating), Bald Eagle (1 immature), 7 Red-tailed Hawks (4 adults flying around the eagle nest hill all morning, 3 others apparently migrating), Peregrine Falcon, Eastern Towhee, Palm Warbler, and Black-throated Green Warbler (1 male and 1 first fall female).

When we quit at noon the temperature had climbed well into the 50's.  It was beautiful, but it still didn't feel like summer even though it was.

- Ric