Kirtland’s Warblers and Friends

KIWA 05-27-17-3239

Kirtland’s Warbler

Sorry I haven’t been back to the page sooner but I’ve been down with a nasty cold that doesn’t seem to want to go away.  Yet I could speak above a squeak this morning, so I will have to take that as a sign of improvement. Here is a quick post from part of a visit to Michigan with friends over the Memorial Day Weekend. Specifically, these photographs were taken at the Kirtland’s Warbler Restoration Project in Iosco County. We visited this site on the morning of the 27th. The Kirtland’s breeding population is established well enough now at this location to warrant offering tours by the AuSable Valley Audubon Society. Thanks so much to Sam Burckhardt and the Chicago Ornithological Society for another memorable trip.

To go along with the pictures of a singing Kirtland’s above, here is a brief sample of his song:

Kirtland’s Warblers are a fire-dependent species, breeding only in young Jack Pine forests. They winter in the Bahamas. Their fascinating story was chronicled a few years ago by William Rapai, the author of The Kirtland’s Warbler: The Story of a Bird’s Fight Against Extinction and the People Who Saved It

The Kirtland's Warbler: The Story of a Bird's Fight Against Extinction and the People Who Saved It by [Rapai, William]

NAWA 05-27-17-3137

Nashville Warbler

There were also several Nashville Warblers on territory and although they were a bit elusive I did manage to obtain a few distant photos of this one and a clip of him singing as well. To confuse the issue his song is overlapping the Vesper Sparrow’s, which is also below.

Perhaps the unexpected treat for me was a singing Vesper Sparrow. I have not seen these guys too often. A clip of the Vesper Sparrow’s song is below the pictures which were taken at an unfortunate distance. It can be distinguished from the Nashville’s bubbly song by the three introductory notes all at the same pitch.

Perhaps the birds most seen over the weekend were the huge flocks of non-breeding Canada Geese. This is only a small sampling of one flock passing overhead.

Below, a female Orchard Oriole on the left (you have to click on the picture and still look hard to find her, she is so well-camouflaged) and a male Orchard Oriole on the right.

Brown Thrashers were singing quite a bit too, now I’m sorry  didn’t bother to record one. Below is one very cooperative bird.

Now the challenge is to get through another busy weekend and a lot more photographs (and, I hope, a lot less facial tissue). I am trying to stay optimistic! Please have faith, I shall return, lots to share with you.

BRTH 05-27-17-3340

Brown Thrasher

Michigan Underfoot

Wrinkled Shield Lichen

Wrinkled Shield Lichen

Memorial Day morning in Iosco County we explored the forest around us, and while we were looking for birds mostly in the trees above, it was impossible to ignore the seemingly endless world underfoot. It was also an opportunity to get used to using my relatively new Canon macro 100mm lens. So although this is a bit off topic unless you can hear the mosses singing, I feel compelled to share some of these images with you.

Four Tooth Moss

Four Tooth Moss

At a loss trying to identify even some of these, I managed to find a book by Janice M. Glime on Amazon that is devoted to mosses and liverworts of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Isle Royale; although this is farther north than we were, some of the mosses and lichens were present. It’s a beautiful book and makes me now want to visit the U.P.!

42318

There was a lot of the moss below and I believe it is a Cushion Moss, which describes it perfectly where it occurs.

Cushion Moss

Cushion Moss

I have no idea what the moss is below, and if you do, please weigh in!

I have no idea what this is but it looks like a miniature forest

I have no idea what this is but it looks like a miniature forest

Again, the moss below grows like the cushion moss, but I cannot find anything like it with the darker growth emerging out of it.

This looks like the cushion moss but now it has little trees growing out of it!

This looks like the cushion moss but now it has little trees growing out of it!

This is sandy soil, and whatever creature calls this home, below, has made a perfect entrance to its hole. This could be an insect nest. If you recognize it please let me know.

Some Creature's Sand Castle

Some Creature’s Sand Castle

The leaves on the forest floor had a poetry all their own. The wonder of being in a completely different habitat and ecosystem comes rushing back when I review these photographs.

Forest Floor

Forest Floor

The half-eaten egg below must have belonged to a larger bird. I wonder if it was a Ruffed Grouse egg, as we occasionally heard the males drumming.

As yet unidentified egg

As yet unidentified egg

The one thing I definitely recognized on sight: Fiddlehead Fern.

Fiddlehead Fern

Fiddlehead Fern

And now it’s back to the Summer Solstice in Illinois: we are presently in between thunderstorms. It’s cool when the clouds come over and hot when the sun shines through. Time to go for a swim and see if there are any Cedar Waxwings eating the now-ripe Serviceberries outside the entrance to the gym.

 

Jewels Hidden in the Trees

Chestnut-Sided Warbler

Chestnut-Sided Warbler

I think I have finally been through all the pictures from the Memorial Day Kirtland’s Warbler weekend with the Chicago Ornithological Society. While I want to put a more representative selection up on my flickr page, for the moment I am sharing some warbler pictures here. Most of the birds were far enough away that I had to use manual focus to follow them around as they flitted through pine needles.

What bird, where?

What bird, where?

With some photographs it was like reliving getting on the bird in the first place – where is it?

Wilson's Warbler

Wilson’s Warbler

After our visit to the Kirtland’s Warbler on Saturday morning, we drove to Tawas Point State Park and spent the afternoon hours wandering the trails for migrants. These pictures are from that outing as well as other locations in Iosco County, Michigan, visited on the weekend. Some species were the first I saw this year. Indeed by Memorial Day it was almost “Now or Never.”

Black-Throated Blue Warbler

Black-Throated Blue Warbler

A Black-Throated Blue male was definitely on my list of must-sees and although he proved a bit difficult to photograph in the bright light against the sky, he stuck around for more photographs than I care to admit.

Cape May Warbler

Cape May Warbler

The female Cape May Warbler above caused a little confusion until we could be sure all her markings were in the right place. Here is a picture to prove it.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warblers abounded, even windblown ones.

Golden-Winged Warbler

Golden-Winged Warbler

Golden-Winged Warbler

Golden-Winged Warbler

It seems increasingly difficult to find Golden-Winged Warblers, and the sunlight proved to be a challenge, but if you click on the second picture above you might be able to see the golden wing field mark a little better.

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolias and Redstarts are common enough but each individual has something different to offer. I like the way there is a hint of black coming in on the first-year American Redstart below. Next year he will be all black except for the orange on his breast, like the male below him.

American Redstart - First Year Male

American Redstart – First Year Male

American Redstart

American Redstart

I have never seen a Pine Warbler well enough before, which makes me think until this trip I never really saw one. Now I can add it to my list!

Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler

Black-Throated Green Warblers are always welcome.

Black-Throated Green Warbler

Black-Throated Green Warbler

As are Blackburnian Warblers.

Blackburnian Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

And another species that had eluded me this spring finally came to light: the male Canada Warbler. I did not break into the “Oh, Canada” refrain from “A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell as is my wont whenever I see one of these birds, but he might have heard me anyway.

Canada Warbler

Canada Warbler