3 Days in Michigan – Part 2

RBGR 7-17-18-6893

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak (Juvenile)

I was at Hartwick Pines State Park near Grayling, Michigan, years ago on a Kirtland’s Warbler tour, and immediately remembered the window feeders at the visitor’s center that attracted grosbeaks like the one at the top of this post. It was too late in the season to see a Kirtland’s easily, although one had been reported about five days before we arrived, but there were other birds to see and the forest itself is beautiful.

The Pileated Woodpecker above was actually not far from where we were staying when Linde went out for an early morning walk, and I managed, as always, to get representative but not very good pictures which I had to adjust for the backlighting. I think I’ll start now with my New Year’s Resolutions and plan to visit the places where Pileateds are seen more often around here, to increase my chances of getting a decent photograph.

RBGR 7-17-18-6903

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak (adult male)

So to finish up with the grosbeaks at Hartwick Pines’ feeders, the main attraction was the Evening Grosbeaks. Although they proved difficult to photograph I did manage the pictures below, which are of an adult male and I believe the one on the lower right is a juvenile.

The day before we went to Hartwick Pines we visited the Muskegon Wastewater Treatment Plant which prides itself on its design to incorporate wildlife and native ecology into the whole process. If nothing else it’s a birding destination worth checking out.

With 11,000 acres of varied habitat it’s one of the best birding locations in the state. In the fields adjacent to the water treatment ponds we saw three Upland Sandpipers. They were too far away to photograph well but I did manage to catch them flying.

I think I saw more Black Squirrels this time than I have on previous trips to Michigan, but it was still hard to get a decent picture of one.

CORA 7-17-18-7001On the drive up I saw a Common Raven and then finally on our last outing one flew over.

The wastewater treatment ponds predictably had waterfowl. It was nice to see a Ruddy Duck (left, above) and we had to offer proof of the Lesser Scaup (on the right).

MALL 7-16-18-6833There was no shortage of young Mallards in various stages of development.

Mute Swans 7-16-18-6798Mute Swans, albeit introduced, are still lovely to look at.

In the summertime birders flock to sewage ponds in particular to see shorebirds. We saw only a few and they were pretty far away. Above on the left, a Lesser Yellowlegs, flying top right, a Killdeer, and below it is a Herring Gull, which is not a shorebird but a segue into the next photograph.

Gulls 7-16-18-6801On our way out we found most of the gulls were on the road in front of us. We estimated 2100 Ring-Billed Gulls and about 100 Herring Gulls mixed in amongst them.

Halloween Pennant 7-16-18-6787Here’s another Halloween Pennant. I have seen more of these dragonflies this year and I don’t recall having seen them before. Changes everywhere, big and small, and I guess this could be yet another one of them.

Woodchuck 7-15-18-6710The woodchuck above was found by Marty, a non-birder in the group, whom we dubbed the Mammal Spotter. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woodchuck before…!

SCTA 7-17-18-7015Our last bird from Hartwick Pines, the Scarlet Tanager above, offered himself up for a series of photographs. Those tall pines do their best to make lighting difficult but I could not resist trying to capture him since he was at eye level.

BWHA 7-17-18-6953And one more photograph of the Broad-Winged Hawk which started off Part 1, who was also at Hartwick Pines, vying for the Most Memorable Bird award.

 

 

Three Days in Michigan, Part I

BWHA 7-17-18-6967

Broad-Winged Hawk, Hartwick Pines 7-17-18

I had the good fortune to meet up with my roommate from previous trips to Ecuador and Panama, and join her for a family reunion a couple weekends ago. The lodging was a remote location near a sprawling golf resort in Michigan. I could have been out of the country because my GPS quit working right before I arrived, and I did not always have cell phone coverage, so it felt like a real getaway. Four of us were birders, so we spent the better part of the three full days we had together exploring various locations. These pictures are from the Manistee National Forest.

My car was too small to be comfortable enough for the day trips, so I was a lucky passenger. I tend not to pay close attention to where I am being taken, and I don’t keep a journal when I’m on a trip, so if it were not for my friend’s son keeping an ebird list I wouldn’t be able to recall where we went. My contribution was to bring a book on birding locations in Michigan, which I gladly handed over to Oliver and his wife, and they decided where to go. I was happy to be away and would have gone anywhere. Even though my drive up was only about 4 hours, the ecosystem and even the time zone were sufficiently different, so the feeling was equivalent to going much farther away.

I had planned to do only one blog post for the whole trip because I felt like I didn’t get very many pictures, the birds were far away and when the birds were closer the lighting was difficult, but now that I’ve processed everything it seems a better idea to break it up into a couple posts. Birds were not all that easy to find. We heard the swamp sparrow, above right, singing like crazy but until we found him and he moved around on his perch a little bit, he was half-hidden behind a leaf. The bird on the left is a Cedar Waxwing.

It was wonderful to see multiple Turkey Vultures. Not that they aren’t in Illinois but I have missed seeing one in the neighborhood this year. And we were out in the middle of some kind of nowhere, so it was possible to see groups of them soaring high in the sky. It was also nice to see a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker (with all the sap holes in the tree). They breed in Michigan. At home I get to see them only in migration. That’s a Wood Duck below left-hand corner.

I think I have seen Cliff Swallows before only in Ohio and perhaps Michigan so it was hard for me to recognize the youngsters below.

CLSW 7-16-18-6840

Cliff Swallows

The last pictures I took in Illinois of Dickcissels were all of their backs to me, so even though the bird below is hidden in the foliage you can at least see its pretty yellow throat. It looks like a young bird, as does the Bobolink below it.

DICK 7-15-18-6746

Dickcissel

BOBO 7-16-18-6726

Boblink

I found the dragonflies more cooperative than the birds. And, in the presence of a dragonfly expert, I learned I have been misidentifying some of them. Below left is a Ruby Meadowhawk. The upper righthand ID is a female Little Blue Dragonlet, and below it is a Halloween Pennant – which I think we saw every day. More dragonfly pictures to come.

Here’s one of the Swamp Sparrow singing.

SWSP 7-15-18-6616I intend to be back soon with more from Michigan. It’s been busy at work and all of a sudden, even though the entire month of August is ahead, it seems like summer is already on the wane. I do appreciate the cooler temperatures we have had lately but I know better than to expect them to stay. However it’s heavenly to open the windows overnight.

Geese and Mallards 7-15-18-6655

Last Day in Ecuador

Golden Grosbeak 11-27-17-3163

Golden Grosbeak

I’m finally back with pictures from my last day in Ecuador taken in November of 2017. I had an extra day to roam the Garden Hotel grounds in Quito because my flight was leaving in the afternoon instead of the middle of the night. It’s a different birding experience without a guide and a group. I had to find all the birds myself, but then sometimes it was easier to approach them.

Although the Sparkling Violet-ear above was too far away for a clean shot, at least I captured its iridescence.

And this was a little better look at the Rusty Flowerpiercer than the group had the day before.

Most impressive, the Black-Tailed Trainbearers seemed to be everywhere. And not terribly shy. I particularly like the picture below of the bird trying to blend in with the tree trunk. The trunk itself suggests giant asparagus to me. I think it was some type of palm tree.

Black-Tailed Trainbearer 11-27-17-3021

The habitat surrounding the Garden Hotel in Quito looked promising for a few grassland species and I got lucky with the four below. At the top is a Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, and below it, left to right, an Ash-Breasted Sierra-Finch, Grassland Yellow-Finch and a Yellow-Bellied Seedeater.

Great Thrushes were everywhere on the trip but not always easy to capture, or maybe because they were so ubiquitous I wasn’t trying hard enough.

The one tanager I saw a lot of that day was incredibly hard to get a decent picture of. It is a Blue-and-Yellow Tanager. Depending on the light, it’s blue and yellow hues intensified or dulled.

Another common species of grassland areas is the Saffron Finch. I was intrigued by the fact that this one had nesting material. Saffron Finch 11-27-2017-3049Flying directly overhead was the Broad-winged Hawk below.I think we saw this raptor practically every day, but this was a particularly nice view.

And my last day in Quito would be incomplete without a picture of the ubiquitous Eared Dove.

Eared Dove 11-27-2017-2841

Eared Dove

One more of the Golden Grosbeak, who seems to be asking me why he is getting so much attention.

Golden Grosbeak 11-27-17-3169Spring is just around the corner, and breeding birds are already starting to come back to our area. I will be back soon to report.

Birds (Birds, Birds) in Costa Rica – Part II

Green Heron 11-14-14-7603Well you knew it was coming, so here are the other bird photographs that wouldn’t all fit into the last post. Leading off with one of two Green Herons which was most cooperative…

Yellow-Bellied Elaenia

Yellow-Bellied Elaenia

I’m always happy when I manage to photograph a bird that isn’t necessarily on the “list” for the day. Even when the bird is partially blocked by whatever it was hiding behind. We’d had Yellow-Bellied Elaenia in the hand and in the field on another day but I think I found the one above myself. I may have been the only person who saw the Variegated Seedeater outside El Cas, the wonderful restaurant where we ate breakfast and many of our lunches.

Female Variegated Seedeater

Female Variegated Seedeater

The Broad-Winged Hawk below sat still for quite a while before assuming this less-expected posture.

Broad-Winged Hawk

Broad-Winged Hawk

I struggled to get pictures of the Sunbittern below, as it was heavily shaded and fairly distant. Some in our group were very fortunate to see the species again later in much better light and even glimpse its open wings as it flew, which is the to-die-for view. Maybe next time.

Sunbittern

Sunbittern

Summer Tanagers were fairly common if not very available for pictures.

Female Summer Tanager

Female Summer Tanager

The Orange-Billed Sparrow is a new species for me. But its range is fairly wide, all across Central America and Northeastern South America, so maybe I’ll get to see it again.

Orange-Billed Sparrow

Orange-Billed Sparrow

I think the Fasciated Tiger Heron is a new bird for me too. This is a juvenile Fasciated, which might be mistaken for a Rufescent Tiger Heron. I have seen Bare-Throated Tiger Heron before.

Juvenile Fasciated Tiger Heron

Juvenile Fasciated Tiger Heron

Some of the smallest birds were absurdly far away to try to photograph, but I made an attempt anyway…

Least Grebe

Least Grebe

Green Kingfisher

Green Kingfisher

Hummingbirds demand closer views. Here is a Brown Violet-Ear resting on the wires of the chayote fields.

Brown Violet-Ear

Brown Violet-Ear

And a young male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. Click on the picture below to see how the light catches and illuminates his new throat feathers.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

I treasure the pictures below. We were at Tapanti National Park, which is where several of the photographs on this page were taken, and first saw the juvenile (the one with the orange throat) sitting alone on the twig for a while.  Like magic, mom arrived…

Green-Crowned Brilliant 11-13-14-7299

Green-Crowned Brilliant

Green-Crowned Brilliant

One more look at that cooperative Green Heron.

Green Heron 11-14-14-7650

I might get around to one more Costa Rica post which will jumble together other creatures encountered. Otherwise I may embrace hibernation. 🙂

Birds, Birds, Birds in Costa Rica – Part I

Roadside Hawk

Roadside Hawk

This will be a collection of some photographs of birds seen out of the hand. Light conditions were not always optimum. Birds were often hiding behind leaves or branches. Sometimes they were ridiculously far away. There weren’t that many species seen, compared to “birding” trips. And yet I don’t think I can manage to do this in one post.

American Dipper

American Dipper

American Dipper 11-13-14-7204I have been hoping to see an American Dipper for years. I saw the European version of this bird several years ago, but have never seen an American Dipper well, to my knowledge, until now.

Common Tody Flycatcher 11-12-14-6670

Common Tody Flycatcher

Common Tody Flycatcher

Common Tody Flycatcher is a favorite of mine. We saw perhaps three or four individuals over the course of the week, and this is the only one I could manage to get to even half-cooperate.

Tropical Kingbird

Tropical Kingbird

Tropical Kingbirds are ubiquitous but not always easy to capture. This one embodies my perception of this species as The Bird on the Wire.

Keel-Billed Toucan

Keel-Billed Toucan

Keel-Billed Toucan 11-12-14-5916

I have seen Keel-Billed Toucans much closer but the challenge of capturing the one above makes me glad I tried.

Broad-Winged Hawk

Broad-Winged Hawk

BW Hawk Species 11-12-14-5868

I almost never see Broad-Winged Hawks at home, but they were plentiful in Costa Rica. We saw one every day.

Great-Tailed Grackle

Great-Tailed Grackle

Great-Tailed Grackles are so common you soon forget about how beautiful they can be. This one picked the perfect spot to be photographed.

I will be back very soon with the second half of this post. I am also trying to get some photographs on my flickr page.

Return to Tuttle Marsh

This post will feature flying birds as I continue to soar through pictures from the Memorial Day Weekend. It’s been a busy week at work and the only antidote is swimming, which means I have spent less time sitting with the laptop.

Osprey

Osprey

On the Chicago Ornithological Society (COS) Kirtland’s Warbler Memorial Day trip, the second day we spent the morning at Tuttle Marsh. Above is a picture of one of the Ospreys that nests there.

Below is a sign describing the wetland restoration project at Tuttle Marsh. Click on any of the pictures to enlarge the view.

Tuttle Puddle Sign-3778

American Bittern

American Bittern

I saw my first American Bittern at Tuttle Marsh last year, in the reeds. This year, we had two flying across the marsh. Above is one of them. Not a great shot but the profile is distinctive.

Osprey Nest

Osprey Nest

There is a viewing area across from the Osprey nest, where these pictures were taken.

Osprey-3846Osprey-3847Osprey-3848

I can’t resist the “Honey, I’m home” sentiment to the last picture above although her reaction indicates that he forgot the milk.

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

I never tire of seeing Turkey Vultures, even after being in Virtual Vulture Heaven about a month ago in Texas. I promise to get back to those pictures as soon as I am done with these!

Green Heron

Green Heron

I can’t remember if we saw any Green Herons on the ground, but we certainly had them in the air (six!). As I recall (memory being what it is two weeks later), we made some stops along the way to the Marsh and by the time we got there it was perhaps a bit later than we had been last year, mid-morning and a bit quieter. But we got great looks at a Broad-Winged Hawk that flew over. Below are my first-ever photographs of a flying Broad-Winged, which is a less-common buteo to see. I am thrilled to have these pictures to study and imprint on my brain, so I might be able to recognize the next one I see flying by, which will probably not hang around so long.

Broad-Winged Hawk

Broad-Winged Hawk

BWHA-3793BWHA-3799

We went back to Tuttle Marsh in the evening to hear, if not see, the American Bittern. We did hear one call once, but I did not manage to record it. However while we endured swarms of mosquitoes that eventually subsided as the temperatures cooled, I did manage to get a picture of the sunset, and a recording of a very vocal Eastern Whip-Poor-Will.

Sunset Tuttle Marsh-4210