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.



Wednesday’s Feather Quest

Evening Grosbeak IMG_9791_1

Female Evening Grosbeak

I hinted at this with my link to “The Birders Are Coming.” Maybe it was cabin fever to the max, I don’t know. I can’t remember having such a strong urge to chase birds, but even after the long weekend drive for elusive predators, the quest corner I painted myself into hadn’t quite dried yet.

Varied Thrush

Varied Thrush

There have been two birds in the Chicago area, up on the north side, that were probable lifers for me: a female Evening Grosbeak at Rosehill Cemetery, and a Varied Thrush in Evanston. I gave in to impulse on Wednesday, throwing all duty and responsibility to the wind, and joined two other Elles to chase the birds. It seemed likely we would get them as they were still being reported in the same vicinity and several people had already seen them over the course of three days.

Evening Grosbeak IMG_9804_1

And the weather was about to change again from rain to snow and below freezing wind chills, so Wednesday seemed like the last chance. As it turns out, as of this writing the thrush is still present and the Evening Grosbeak might be, although it could not be located this afternoon.

Female Cardinal IMG_9597_1

Before we left, I went out into the yard and took a few pictures of my visitors to see what the light was going to be like.

House Finch IMG_9548_1

That helped only somewhat. The Evening Grosbeak never got good enough light to show off her winter colors and the Varied Thrush was hiding behind lawn furniture and a fence I could barely prop my lens over.

Goldfinches IMG_9928_1

There were a couple nice American Goldfinches at the thrush host’s feeder.

Montrose Beach IMG_9931_1

Finally, a quick check for a Snowy Owl at Montrose Beach on the way home convinced us we’d had enough winter weather for the day.