Saturday, May 30, 2015

Grasshopper Sparrow

More important, or at least connected to the photos below, is an Op-Ed from this morning's New York Times, Saving Canada's Boreal Forest, by Scott Weidensaul and Jeffrey V. Wells.

With the exception of the uncropped first photo, the next five are best viewed not too closely.  As soon as you enlarge you will get the full pixilated version.  Alas!  I took about 50 shots of this charming bird this morning and these are probably the best. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial weekend birds

First spring male American Redstart

Warbling vireo

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Gray-cheeked thrush

Gray catbird

Yellow warbler

Eastern kingbird with buffy to yellowish tail tip.

Canada goslings

Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis), female

Yellow-bellied flycatcher

Friday, May 15, 2015

Walking it back

On Sunday I reported seeing a red-headed woodpecker in the environs of Rouge River Bird Observatory (see prior blog entry) and also reported hearing, but never seeing, a pileated woodpecker.

Yesterday, I worked near the RRBO so after work I went back to have a look around.  Earlier I texted Julie Craves and learned that the red-headed woodpecker had been seen by others but not on Thursday, and that my pileated woodpecker report had not been confirmed by anyone else.  She also mentioned that birding was slow.  But I was close so I visited anyway.  I rarely, if ever, get a chance to go birding after work. 

Nicely posed Gray Catbird

At the red-headed woodpecker location, a pair of vocal red-bellied woodpeckers were busy feeding a family.  Of the two, the male bird was more active.  My vague hope that the red-headed would still be around never materialized.  

While listening, watching and waiting, I heard a northern flicker give it's skeew call. I had not heard a flicker in this location on Sunday. Hmmm ... did I really hear a flicker on Sunday and not a pileated? When I got home I listened to the call and drumming of both birds. It's not entirely clear that a pileated did not make the Sunday vocalizations, but no one else has heard or seen a pileated in this location.  I walked back my eBird report of hearing a pileated woodpecker on Sunday. Just call me Jeb Bush.  

Having done many breeding bird surveys it's always thrilling to find an active nest such as this blue-gray gnatcatcher nest.  That's the female's tail sticking out on the left.   

The star of the evening , and a bird I love, was a cooperative Swainson's Thrush hopping along the trial finding food and occasionally posing from the logs that line the trail's edges.  These are a few of the many photos I took. 

Arriving back home I was greeted by a baltimore oriole on the new feeder I have.  This is my first experience with an oriole feeder.  A bit messy but it seems to be worth the effort.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Red-headed Woodpecker

I went to Rouge River Bird Observatory, U of M Dearborn and the Henry Ford Estate to see what migrants might have flown in.  It was pretty quiet until I met up with a birder I was not acquainted with who nonchalantly told me that he had seen a red-headed woodpecker and gave me directions.  I wasted no time in getting down the trail.  

When I arrived at the spot he described there was both a red-belled woodpecker and a great crested flycatcher being very vocal, but no sign of the red-headed until three grackles flushed a smaller bird in my direction.  With white wing patches flashing, it landed on a nearby tree.

I took photos from both quite near and some distance.  The bird was completely silent and ate all of the food that it found making me think that it might be an unmated first spring female.  I also thought the bird had found perfect red-headed woodpecker nesting habitat.  

The four photos I include here were chosen because the bird's eyes can be seen.  For many of the photos, even though the bird appeared to be in focus in my viewfinder, when I downloaded the pictures the eyes were obscured.  I think this was because of the light and the dark eye surrounded by red feathers.

Nearly fully adult, just not quite.

I watched the bird for 20 minutes or more as it flew from tree to tree, hopped up trees, made amusing poses and balanced itself with its tail pressed against the trunk.  I was so absorbed with this bird and taking photos that I failed to give proper attention to a loud (emphasis on loud) woodpecker calling.  Then the loud calling was much closer. Pileated woodpecker!  I walked further down the trail to find habitat that was also perfect for pileated woodpecker.  By then it had stopped calling.  Finally, I heard loud drumming that may even have been coming from across the river.  When I went back the red-headed woodpecker had disappeared for the moment and I thought it was time to leave the bird alone. 

How great to have both of these birds together and in good nesting habitat in an area where they very uncommon.  

Addendum:  Probably not a pileated woodpecker.  See comments on my next blog post.

Magee Marsh, May 6, 2015

The day began cool and overcast with a heavy fog that encouraged the birds to look for food low.  They were often very close, confiding and entertaining.   

Attractive new boardwalk entrance.

Black-throated Green warbler

Blue-gray gnatcatcher

Palm warbler

Chestnut-side warbler

I don't get to see a Whip-poor-will everyday.


Black-throated Blue warbler

Cape May warbler

Yellow-Rumped warbler.