Monday, October 3, 2011

Chipmunk control on Belle Isle

Yesterday, a relatively unbirdy Sunday morning, I got lucky [again] with a Cooper's Hawk flying in to perch, completely unobstructed, on a fallen log.  

The bird flew in so suddenly that I did not notice it was holding something in its talons.  

The unfortunate meal appeared to be more furry than feathery.  Then I saw the tail listless againt the brown of the tree bark - the shape and size of a chipmunk's tail.  There is no shortage of chipmunks at Belle Isle! 

While the bird was perched I didn't notice the meal.  When the Coop took off, the chipmunk was dangling from its talons.  In the photo above the bird is bending over for a nibble just before flying off.

Last year, about this same time, I came across a Cooper's Hawk perched in low shrubbery.  That bird was obstructed by leaves and shadows in my photos.  Cooper's Hawk is common on Belle Isle and it is uncommon not to see and hear one or two on any given visit.

New shorebird habitat in Dearborn

I don't know if it's just temporary or if it will become permanent.  For the past several years there has been a large water management and river restoration project at several sites along the Rouge River in Dearborn.  The areas affected have been torn up for years.  For this particular project along Military Road between Cherry Hill and Michigan Avenue, a woods was torn down to proceed with the project.

Two weeks ago I happened upon this location to find two Killdeer and eight Mallards feeding in the shallow, grassy water.  Despite only the Killdeer being present at that time, the habitat still looked very promising for other shorebirds.  I stopped by again on Sunday evening. Two Solitary Sandpipers were present and feeding actively.  

Whatever restoration of this location into shallow, muddy, grassy habitat was intentional or accidental is unclear.  All of our recent rain may have created the shallow pools that are present now, but it appears to be a spot that will collect river overflow during flood times.  A few large fallen trees remain in the water which would be a surprise if it was not intentional.  I think of Dearborn residents as typically preferring non-native, and even invasive, botanical species for landscaping that has been manicured to within an inch of its life.  This spot is in one of Dearborn's high-end neighborhoods - so it will be really special if this is left as is.  Over time it will probably grow over, but for now, we have some really nice shorebird habitat.

The above video is about four minutes long.  Prior to shooting this video, I saw the bird swim across a pool of water and I was hoping to capture that again.  No such luck.  

The spot is halfway between my mother's home and my home.  So I hope to make several more visits this fall.

Update:  The hoped-for shorebird habitat is gone.  Shortly after this post was written with the the Solitary Sandpiper - which I think is a great bird for Dearborn - the wet field was essentially dry and was planted with trees.  Oh well, it was hopeful while it lasted.