2013 and beyond

It's pretty simple: the most birds seen or heard from one's yard during 2013 will be the "winner". Want in? O.k....then do it despite that.

2013 promises to be a lot less mean but still a carbon-free birding competition, even if slightly less exciting than a MEGA x EPIC hybrid.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

First and Last........

Well Gentlemen,

It's been an honor serving with you. I will be leaving Marquette in the morning, not to return till after the new year. Unless I get a Glaucous or Great Black-backed (or a solitaire- one was about 7 blocks from my house the other day!), while I'm loading the car in the AM, I am done for the year!114.5 species of bird for my yard this year. I was hoping for more, but I spent too much time birding elsewhere, and still haven't gotten hip to nocturnal recording yet (one day!)

My biggest misses- Cackling Goose, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Orange-crowned Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, WW Crossbill and Hoary Redpoll. The goose and the two warblers are especially surprising misses.

One of my first birds of the year early in January was a flyover Pine Grosbeak. So I found it fitting that I had a small flock fly over today, to close out the season.

Class all the way.

The Haastage Negotiator.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Beyond the water feature

I found this title over Thanksgiving while looking for a read on prairie grasses. Written by an entomology it explores the role of plants in transferring energy from sunlight to herbivore to yardbird. The author provides an interesting perspective of how exotic plant species interfere with this flow of energy. Thought provoking is the variation found among native plant families to host insect populations (measured by Lepidoptera diversity) – this seems applicable to bird migration and the ability of a stop-over site to “catch” migrants.

A yardbirding highlight for me this year was transforming our front yard from a bird-free barren "grass" patch (with a single lilac sprig) to a diverse configuration of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers that is already, after just one season, attracting birds. This book provides a novel approach of which plants to combine to complete your vagrant trap -- a must read for the Complete Yard-birder, after of course you finish building your igloo.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Yard Birdless in December?

Well, this is how you can own winter...

As many of you already know, I'm a huge fan of Wired. This article is MEGA...

nice surprise

Had an exciting 15 minutes in the yard yesterday (12/10/2010). Following our first real snowfall I looked out to see this blackbird at the feeding station -- I believe this is the same bird I had out in the cattails of the Portage a couple days previously. A pheasant pair came rambling in next, the female a new sex for the feeder, then a few minutes later among the regulars; chickadee, tree sparrow, junco, and house finches was a Yellow-rumped Warbler with what looked like a bashed in head (so that's what happens to all the little birds that bounce off windows) . I managed a pic or two before it took off -- too bad it couldn't have figured out the suet feeder. Geeked up on that I scrambled outside to put out some suet on the platform feeder and was immediately greeted by the calls of Bohemian Waxwings perched in the neighbors trees -- I counted 158 of them realizing later it was actually 164!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Glaucous Gull #161/178

As stated previously, I've been making a concerted effort for white-winged or dark-backed gulls of late. Several hours of scoping the western horizon the last two days paid off this afternoon with an adult Glaucous Gull sailing with Herring Gull on the strong north-westerlies between snow squalls.

By the way, Joe, I have a hard time believing you when you say "this may be my last contribution for 2010". Not only will your luck hold (yours usually does), but you know you can't resist posting more gregarious and entertaining writings. Oh, Mr. Swampy is still here. He sure is a freeloader. I'm going to have to buy more mixed seed. The gang of House Sparrows has taken him in. Figures he'd hang with that sort.

Eye of the Shrike #163

Sticking with the theme.... this may be my last contribution for 2010....#163 observed hovering up to our bluebird box chasing breakfast while I was working away on the computer.

I had been contemplating getting a 55 gallon drum of beef parts from the local meat processing plant and building a humungo suet feeder in the marsh when this fella finally showed. Funny I haven't had a yard bird since 4 on 30 October and then all of the sudden the old 1-2 punch. Luckining strikes twice!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Wastelands Strike Back

::Note that this post was in the process of going up last night when Comcast decided to be the great company that it actually is. Thank the good Lord for the automatic SAVE NOW button::

Just when I thought the rest of the year was a wash for me at The Wastelands, I awoke (12/05) to the sound of scads of geese flying over. Just as Fitz was texting me to alert of the crane insanity up at his place, I was getting ready to peck out a text warning him of the coming gander onslaught. So I am pleased to announce that I too nabbed 4 new yard species for the year, which also happened to be 4 new all-timers (one of which was a new Will County bird for me placing me at 191...a White-winged Scoter tomorrow should score my 192nd for the county).

Since I have bronchitis, I did most of my watching from my dining room windows with scope in position. At the point I ticked a flock of 31 Northern Shoveler (#65) fly by, I said "screw my lungs" and I headed outside to conduct a more meaningful survey.

I ended up doing a 2-hour eBird survey and scored some huge additions. A flyby American Tree Sparrow (#66) was long overdue but again, I have ZERO cover for species of this sort. The bird of the day for me was a gorgeous light-morph Rough-legged Hawk (#67) that soared over just 20 minutes before I called it quits on the survey. This species (along with SNBU) was way overdue at The Wastelands so I was thrilled to say the least. This was also a new county tick for me. After I headed inside, the geese kept on a flyin' so I continued to watch from the windows and nabbed another RLHA for a two-count roughie today. The numerous MALL flocks paid off again with 3 American Black Duck making that #68.

There was a steady flow of geese the whole day. While birding from my dining room, I had numerous distant flocks of geese with some birds possibly being Greater White-fronteds but double-paned window glass and a 60x scope zoom just didn't work out all that well. I also had a total of 457 Sandhill Cranes move over and I probably missed a bunch when I stayed inside. With all the geese, I'm shocked I didn't get at least one Snow Goose.

The standardized count today:

Number of species: 16

Cackling Goose 2
Canada Goose 787
American Black Duck 3
Mallard 142
Northern Shoveler 1
Cooper's Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 4
Rough-legged Hawk 1
American Kestrel 1
Sandhill Crane 202
Ring-billed Gull 14
Mourning Dove 17
American Crow 4
American Robin 3
European Starling 93
American Goldfinch 1

The incidental tally today and does not include the numbers from above:

Cackling Goose 36
Canada Goose 4100
Mallard 135
Northern Shoveler 31
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Rough-legged Hawk 1
Sandhill Crane 255
Ring-billed Gull 9
Mourning Dove 5
Horned Lark 1
European Starling 210
American Tree Sparrow 1
House Finch 8

Eye of the Grosbeak - #162

It hurts to bird... but after seeing Mr. Swampy at Big Rigs feeder I knew I had to punch back or risk a TKO in Round 15 ..... finished my wish-list then took the dog for a walk only to be greeted by a half dozen Pine Grosbeaks in the neighbors ash tree (eating seeds!). They had to be coaxed down a few houses so they could be seen from the property line but it worked thanks to iBird Pro and D.J. Chris, eventually flying into the yard for a minute or two. Lucky or what?? Eye of the Tiger.

The Great Exodus

I woke up this morning to the bugling of Sandhill Cranes and started watching outside as it was obvious that waterfowl were clearing out with the recent cold temps and snow cover... Over the next hour plus I had the scope out and counted the flocks streaming south. Diversity was ok, the most noteworthy birds were all in one flock; a group of ducks that contained 22 Redhead, 2 Lesser Scaup, and a female Northern Pintail (3 yardbirds in a flock!). I also had a lone Greater White-fronted Goose go over among the many CANGs. 161 Sandhill Cranes (in three flocks) is probably the largest tally I've ever had in December.

Location: Country Lakes wetland complex
Observation date: 12/5/10
Number of species: 17

Greater White-fronted Goose 1
Cackling Goose (Richardson's) 8
Canada Goose 825
American Black Duck 1
Mallard 4
Northern Pintail 1
Redhead 22
Lesser Scaup 2
Sandhill Crane 161
Mourning Dove 9
American Robin 14
European Starling 42
American Tree Sparrow 2
Song Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) 2
House Finch 8
American Goldfinch 1

I'm guessing that these may be my final yardbirds of the year (barring a SNBU or RLHA). I have to confess that my yardbirding has been very minimal the last few weeks...
I know Boone has managed at least one good addition down at his place, let's see if he can make that brant that's only a few miles from him fly over for an epic waterbird score!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Late, but anticipated #160

This little duffer finally came to visit. I had almost written it off for the year, but never say never! Good thing I put a healthy helping of mixed seed out this morning. Although I'm still searching my records, this is likely the latest I've had Swamp Sparrow in the yard - not that I've ever had many in this dry upland habitat. Send in the redpolls!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

feeling PISI?

I am.

Good to know I won't be missing ALL of the 'common' species I still don't have for 2010 (BTBW, etc.). CORE is next, I suspect.


Woohoo! I'm finally to triple digits! I was concerned I wouldn't hit that milestone this year.
A fly-over pair of Pine Siskins got the honor to be #100. I hope I get some to join the Goldfinches at the thistle.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Yellow-bellied SapSUCKIT!!!

I know, Sapsucker isn't a huge deal but it is for me. I had about given up all hope. But then, today, a day I should have driven up to Lake Erie to do a lake watch (Loons, Jaegers, KIEI!!) I woke up and went to the bathroom. A nice thing about my bathroom is it overlooks the feeders. A blur of white wing patches and dark gray caught my eye as it paused for a second to look at the sunflower seed, and then went on to land in the Red Maple. It was a super awesome adult female YBSA. In another five seconds it flew off to the pines and I never saw it again. Such a relief. I knew that bird had to hit my yard sooner or later this year. Surprising how rare it is in my yard. This is only the second time ever.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Midnight Cygnus 159

I was overdue for this year yardbird. 200+ where sitting on the big lake less than a mile from home this past weekend. Tonight a large flock of columbianus flew over calling. They were vocal enough that I could hear them as I was brushing my teeth. From the back deck their mellow voices were even more enchanting against the stars.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Doppelganger on the big screen!?

I have to give credit to Karen for noticing this one, but who knew that Boone had a doppelganger in hollywood?? In birding news...nada. Boone was over last Sunday and a half hour watch outside produced maybe 8 species including the ubiquitous CACG.

SNBU Pwnage

This time I had the near miss. When I heard the Snow Bunting on the mic doing a flyby, I again sprinted out to the back porch, and fortunately caught a single "teu" note as it flew W from my propoerty- presumably back to the airport. FINALLY! Now to target LALO.

Watch out Kat- now I am only 30 behind you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

not even a year bird......

Caught this little bugger scaring the bejeezus outta my House Finches today.......

Well- it is winding down at the Haascienda- not too much left to get for the year. Gotta still clean up my finches, but I already have the hard one down (RECR), and the rest will just fall into place. Still hoping for a white-winged or dark-backed gull to fly over and of course, I'll let you all know when the Curve-billed Thrasher shows up.

I could go on and on about what birds I missed for the year that I thought I would get, but I suggest we save that post for late December.

......cause ya never know!

Why we bird - poll results

The real reason we watch birds??

We crAzy

but the poll says differently:

Sociologist's suggest five reasons why birders are so driven by their 'passion'. Look inside your heart and choose which best explains your underlying motivation to “bird”?

I enjoy “sharing knowledge” with others – at my core I’m a teacher, teacher, teacher.

2 (16%)

Identifying birds is both “intellectual” and “challenging” - it tickles my brain.

3 (25%)

It satisfies my need for “systemizing” the planet– Oh See Dee, I loooove keeping records.

2 (16%)

I hate to admit it but I like “gaining status”– Whoa nice find, now kiss the ring.

1 (8%)

“Male hunting instinct” – Me like pretty bird….need me say more?

4 (33%)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Just one more...

Ok, so this is just a little late in posting, but I've not posted in a while so here it goes.
On 10/30 I watched this little guy make numerous trips back and forth to the feeder. It's not there anymore however.
Wish it would have stuck around.
#99 for 2010....just one more to break into triple digits...that might prove hard from here on out.
Also, I thought this picture might be more pleasant to look at than goose poop and would help to "flush" it a bit further down the page (thanks also to Rick for aiding in this with his RLHA pic). I must say, though, that goose made a nice shot! Next time I hope it hits your windshield or better yet, you while out raking leaves...oh, wait, you don't have any trees.

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Long Awaited 158/177

I can't believe its taken so long to get this bird for the yard. It kindly sat in the same spot for 45 mins. on the old golf course about 500 ft south west from my west boundary. Sorry for the dirty optics. Camera and scope haven't been cleaned since the chase for the ANHU.

Direct Hit

Check out the spread and patterning on this mess. Can only be BRNG. Takers/Disputers? Dammit!! I can't believe I missed this killer fly-over...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Near Hit

As George Carlin once hilariously said: "When two planes almost collide, they call it a near miss. It's a near hit! A collision is a near miss".

So using this logic, I had a near hit with a life yardbird yesterday morning. As I sat at the computer in the morning, listening to the live feed from my microphone, I had a small group of Snow Buntings rattling and giving the dry buzz call, not at all high up. I sprinted to the back porch as fast as humanly possible (~4 seconds), but heard nothing once I got out there. Would have been (131/141). And a couple weeks ago, I thought I heard a LALO go over too, but again was not able to pin it down.

Other than that, yardbirding has slowed to a crawl for the most part, with a daily Purple Finch the most interesting thing still around. Realistically, I should get Pine Siskin and probably Common Redpoll before the year is out, but I don't anticipate much else. Waterfowl are around but extremely difficult, and after that it's stuff like Golden Eagle, Northern Goshawk, and Saw-whet Owl, which are just plain tough.

Or maybe the Boreal Chickadee invasion that some are claiming (reports from Holland MI and Holiday Beach Ontario already this fall!) will turn into reality!?!?! That would be a first county record in my yard.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


So yeah, I've been birding the yard, just not posting about it. Mostly I just haven't had much to post about, the yard is pretty much tapped out. But still, there have been a few to add, and I should have added them to the blog, just haven't had a lot of chances lately. News: I didn't ever get a danged OCWA, I guess there is still a slight chance. I did pick up a BTBW back in early october, but not much else. Still no stupid YBSA. In the morning of the third I had a good day. Got up for some watching and there was a few hawks on the soar. I got a great look at a lighter morph RLHA, yard lifer. I have a suspicion that this bad boy is the same bird that overwinters down the road from my house for the past few years. In fact, on Friday I had a great look at the bird down the road. We looked right at each other, the bird was right beside the road in a little tree. Very cool. Anyways, back on wednesday I also got a lifer PALO, but not in my yard, it was down in southern Ohio. Pretty cool. Other news: a pair of pretty PUFIs at my feeder yesterday. Last night I got home late and the GHOW were talking. Good times. So I'm still waiting on YBSA. Good birding clowns.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Totally expected life yard bird

I don't know what Slagheimer is talking about since my slab has waaaaay more potential than his. I'm just never around. Not an excuse I know but I just wanted to get that straightened out. For instance...who will likely get GOEA at his slab? Answer: the Big Booner.

While slaving away at home today, I decided to step out for a quick "smoke break." In five minutes of watching, I had a gorgeous adult RTHA flying around for a few minutes. My admiration was interrupted by the rattling call of a single fly over LALO (#64/#66).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

An Unexpected Winter Finch #156/176

A quick evening tour of the property after work was suddenly punctuated by a cacophony of chuttering finches barreling through the air 30 feet overhead. Reddish bodies were evident on most, although fainter orange tones and streaking were present on others. All were adorned with contrasting black wings and striking white wing bars. They were about 20 in number. Their undulating presence was fleeting. Conifer stands to the southwest of here are likely their hosts tonight.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pine Siskins arrive en mass

Although not a year yardbird it was still a nice surprise to have a group of 30 PISI's fly through today. It would be much appreciated if they would bring along their redpoll friends. A Hoary or two would be most excellent!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's all Greek to me

Perfect morning yesterday (Oct 30th) with overcast skies and very little shimmer because of cold temps. Scored a LALO past the liar and a sweet lineup of unidentified birds including 3 Podiceps, 3 Pluvialis and a single Calidris. Bing, bing, boom.

Also had 2 Asio heading south at dusk.

The photo is from 10/29 and shows what Portage Point looks like at 60x. The insert shows a bridge too far.

Trick or Treat

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Should I stay or should I go?

So, losers: You got to let me know. Should I stay or should I go? ba bum bum baaaaa baaaaa bum.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

rarity rankings

Here's the results of the Rarity voting.... Each participant ranked their preference for the Top Ten ranked rarities and I scored them by assigning 10 points for the #1 bird, 9 points for #2, 8 pts. for 3 etc., etc.

Numbers following the record: first is the number total points based on the system just explained, second number is the highest ranking received by a participant, and third number is total number of members ranking a particular bird in the top 10.

For example -- White-winged Dove recieved 79 points, was ranked #1 by at least 1 person and scored in the top 10 on all 8 members voting list....

Figure I'll keep the list of all birds and we'll do a re-vote when merited.

1) White-winged Dove* - June 12 - Columbus OH – 79,1,8

2) Yellow-throated Warbler- 29 Aug - MQT- da Yoop 71,1,8

3) Swainson's Hawk- May 1 MQT- da Yoop 61,2,8

4) Rose-br. Grosbeak - Jan 2 - Warner - Central OH 56,2,8

5) Little Blue H/Snowy E. (imm) - 18 Aug- Naperville 36,4,7

6) Oregon Junco - 8 April- TOR - the Yoop 36,5,8

7) Am. White Pelican - 4 May -Booner's Wastelands 20,5,7

8) Black-bellied Plover - 5 May - overflying Naperville 15,4,3

9) Foxy Sparrow - Jan/Feb - Kaplan - UP MI 14,6,4

10) Dickcissel - Sep 8, Putzville (nocturnal flight call) 11,4,3

11) Barn Swallow - 31 March - Kitty – UP 9,7,3

11) Cerulean Warbler - 30 April - Curtis' Urban Woodlot 9,7,3

13) Least Flycatcher – 8 June - DAZL’s slab 8,8,3

14) Northern Shrike - Mar 8 – Brigham 7,6,2

15) Merlin - Jan - Haas & Kaplan - UP MI 4,8,2

16) Golden Eagle – 3/21- TOR – UP, Big Rig9/? 1,10,1

16) Sora- over Black Oak forest- Putzville, 4/28 1,10,1

16) Yellow-b. Sapsucker – 4/13 - Booner Wastelands, 1,10,1

16) Am. Woodcock – 3/17 - Dykstra's urban oasis 1,10,1

Next game - please send me the measurements of your yard so I can calculate and plot species per unit of area, curious the relationship..... acres or yard dimensions are great. Thanks

Monday, October 11, 2010


Went through the day thinking it was 10/10/10 only to be told this evening that I was a day late.

Our red maple lost most of its leaves today, sparrows are filling up the yard with a nice influx of american trees. Rusty Blackbirds 60-70 continue to stage in a row of ash trees before heading to roost -- I watched them eating ash seeds tonight. Boocho Robins have arrived and descended on a neighbors mountain-ash.

Rare still air over the Portage Marsh during happy hour was good for picking out a couple of distant coots -- #156.

Friday, October 8, 2010

151 - WIWR and an October NOWA

A typical October morning at the wetlands... Goose numbers building by the day. Speckle-belly or rossii anyone?
Yesterday (10/7) I was surprised to see this guy bobbing along the logs while I was looking for snipe. This is my first every October Northern Waterthrush. It was still present this morning at 7:40AM.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Deep fall in the deep north

Noticed the first frost the night before last -- but I've been gone a lot so can't swear that it is the first. The tomatoes and basil are still alive so we haven't had a hard frost yet. Beyond the Farmer's Almanac musings I've had a couple of new yardies -- one new to the list; Ruffed Grouse (#153) , a bird I flushed yesterday before leaving to chase water ouzel.

The second was today -- a couple of American Pipits (#154), I've heard a few candidates the past couple of weeks but the birds today were nice and clear and similar species were eliminated. Namely a starling that sits on the wire and occasionally gives something that sounds like their flight call....

Still waiting for Global Warning to get the rarity list posted....figure we could keep a running total off-list and revote when merited - like college football rankings.

still a lot of sparrow around but the warblers have thinned out to Myrtle's with an occasional Palm.....seeing a lot of distant shorebirds on the sandbar; undoubtably plovers, sanderlings, and dunlin. trying to figure out how to add them to the yard-list. ideas?

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Had a nice pair of birds come in near the bath today...
Other than this Black-throated Blue, it's been slow for warblers in the yard over the last few days.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lincoln's Sparrow - 150 for '10

Finally picked up one of my last "easy" ticks and got two LISPs by the wetland after work. Here's one shot I got before it went into hide mode.Also had a dozen Cacklers actually stop on the greens with the CANGs (two pictured). And this shot is just for Caleb. This is my 16th YBSA in the yard in 11 months (11 just in the past week and a half)... Okay I'll stop rubbing it in poor CP's face!

If I were Haas, I'd ask for 0.25

But since I am not, I'll just put my bird forward as a suggested addition to the rarity meter. So, check out this flicker which has been in my yard for 2 days:

I've never seen one of these in Michigan, and I cannot remember hearing of any reports. Have you guys? And does this not make the rarity bar?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pure raptor

Figuring that the conditions were decent for some hawk movement today, I stationed myself on the west boundary overlooking the old golf course with a view in the direction of Lake MI a mile away. Winds 5-10mph coming from the east and then swinging around to the north with mostly sunny skies and temps getting to the mid-60's might even be favorable for some thermal activity let alone possibly building up the birds along the lakeshore.

I got distracted, however, by a couple scolding HOWR that brought in Song and White-crowned Sparrows and then a sparrow that might have been a Harris. Needless to say, I "crossed over to the other side" and bushwhacked for the odd bird on the golf course. Well, the sparrows never re-materialized. A glance over my shoulder told me that this may have been a bad move as a medium sized buteo was speeding south across the yard over the south field. It was long gone by the time I got to an adequate vantage point, so I repositioned myself in the south field. TUVU's started streaming overhead and then a RTHA and at last a high kettle of 14 long awaited BWHA (153). Joining them were an adult and sub-adult BAEA. Unfortunately, no SWHA, but that can wait for another day.

Don't worry Putnut, I'll let you know if the HASP comes to light.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Today was Golden

This was a great day of yard birding. Its always so when a new one comes through. I'll start with my second best bird of the day which was close to Golden, but was actually Black-bellied Plover (152). At mid-afternoon it flew over calling. It was anticipated. However, at 1:15pm a bird I hadn't anticipated (151/173) sailed over on a steady north wind without a wing beat. My intent for the day was BWHA which is over due here. It never materialized, although there were a few raptors moving. An OSPR, several RTHA, a half dozen COHA and a few SSHA all drifted through. I lay down in the south field to enjoy some of what the sun was affording on this cool day and to get as full vantage of the sky as I could. And of course, there is the added benefit of the possibility of some eye closure.... I can guarantee, however, that my eyes were wide open when my day turned Golden.


Best salvage year bird of me, probably all time! I have no Salidago or herbaceous/shrub cover anywhere near my subdivision. Couldn't believe it. And was talking on the phone to Slagheap at the exact moment. Booyah!

Cape May Warb and Ovenbird shots

Hey didn't get anything new for the year, but I did have my first of fall GC Kinglets as well as Orange-crowned Warblers (2). Also had ten warbler species including my third ever Ovenbird (below). Also got an okay shot of one of the three Cape May Warbs that were chasing each other through the crabapples right outside my apartment at 715am.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

2 of 3 falcons down for the year

Yep that's right, I had this guy harassing the hell out of the flickers, starlings, and anything else along the edge of the wetland this morning. What's more amazing to me, is that this is my second falcon species of the year but I've yet to score AMKE this year (despite them summering a mile to my west).
Other notables for the morning was a life woodpecker for the yard...not the red-headed I'm on the lookout for...but an overdue Hairy Woodpecker. It was very birdy but the warbs proved elusive to pin down. Had almost 40 warb sps that outnumbered my identified warblers by 50%. Still managed 9 species of warb, my first of fall YTVI, AMPI, and WTSP. Three different Marsh Wrens (including two that were in crap goldenrod habitat rather than the nearby cattails?!) and 5 Northern Shovelers (4 pictured below) replaced the 8 BW Teal that were present yesterday evening. Also noteworthy was the steady numbers of geese flying south all morning.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Kat nap

Felt a little like Rip-van returning to the yard after an extended field work foray. Who turned on fall?? Had a Gray-cheeked Thrush in the yard the day I got back (September 20th -- #148) but otherwise it seems the neotropical fall migration has passed over the Swamp Kat.

Yesterday under favorable skies I finally added Broad-winged Hawk -- 1354 of them in 2.5 hours. Evidently the lair doubles as a HMANA site with kettles (up to 200) coming in from 3 directions, including a nice passage across Little Bay de Noc from the Stonington -- right across the Portage Marsh. Along with the BW there were 116 SACR, 1 NH, 1 AK, 10 BE, 6 TV, 2 SS, and 49 CAGO. Rounding out that delightful discovery was a visit by Harris's Sparrow (#150) and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (#151, sorry putzville).

Still a few egrets and bitterns around.

Nothing but downpour today and a GCTH. Here's to the final stretch! Already looking forward to 2011.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Marsh Wren

Among 63 species this morning I had 15 species of warblers (including my second yard Ovenbird), Philly Vireo, 2 RB Nuthatchs, YB Sapsucker, 3 Cackling Geese, 2 Northern Shovelers, a Pied-billed Grebe, GC Thrush, and Dark-eyed Junco. The star of the show was the more expected Cistothorus in the form of a Marsh Wren that was actually whisper singing its way along the edge of the cattails and brush! The Blackpoll and Tennessee's were still both outnumbering the Yellow-rumps (barely) and that's the good news. Oh yeah, I also managed to twitch my second ever great lakes region bt gray warbler yesterday (photos here: http://www.ilbirds.com/index.php?topic=40862.0).

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Yard Birds!

Almost made me late to work today, them warblers. I was walking the yard 'briefly' before work and then got bowled over by a flock of warblers. Bang! CSWA. Bang! BBWA. Bang! BAWW. Bang! BLBW!!! Yardbird! Then BTNW, MAWA, AMRE, and another goodn' for my yard; Pine Warbler. A nice adult male! Actually many of the birds I had to day were AHY and pretty cool looking. Pine Warbler is a second occurrence for my yard and number 142 year. Also hanging around were a couple BRTH, EAWP, and flyby YBCU. I had to tear myself away, still sad I had no BTBW, but some good birds none the less.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chen already?

Departing the roost at dawn:
This Red-eyed Vireo responded to a House Wren that was all riled up.
I was surprised to see an "interesting" goose this early down here this morning!Here's a second shot of the bird.
And finally here's a Blackpoll Warbler from this afternoon (one of eight warbler species including my second NOPA of the fall and continuing NOWA). BHVI was also a first of the fall today.
Other recent yardbirds include a Red-breasted Nuthatch that briefly touched down in a Boxelder on Monday morning and a White-breasted Nuthatch this afternoon working the Cottonwoods along the wetland (wandering young of the year or migrant??).


Roof-topping tonight finally netted me Great Horned Owl (150) calling distantly from the west. A second one eventually chimed in and then a Barred Owl responded to them. As has been the case for several nights running, more Swainson's Thrush were passing over tonight. Their abundant calls make the heavens sound like a pool of spring peepers. Ruby-crowned Kinglet have been here since the 9th and a dozen White-throated Sparrow greeted me as I walked the trails yesterday morning. This is a week earlier than they showed up last year. Two Gray-cheeked Thrush were at the water feature this evening jockeying for position among the scads of Swainson's. However, GCTH was new for the year (149) several days back when three nocturnal birds were noted among a movement of Catharus in the early morn of the 9th. Two Palm Warbler were in the field along the west boundary this am while four RBNU were happily squeaking in the crowns of the fir trees as they have been the last week or so.

Besides all this new activity, the real change that is in the air was what my down jacket insulated me from tonight.....

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I worked the warblers along the edge of the wetland for a while and was circling the cattails to get to the other 30'x40' clump of vegetation that occasionally will hold a thrush or two due to it's dense understory. As I approached it I heard a harsh chip note that I at first thought was going to be yet another Common Yellowthroat (they have gone from none a week ago to at least 7 this morning). The bird was extremely close though and I could see the leaves moving only ten feet from where I was standing. I began some hardcore pishing and the bird popped right out and showed itself for maybe ten seconds before moving back into the foliage about a foot in. I managed a couple of quick "record shots" like this one as I was afraid I wouldn't get another chance to photograph it.
Luckily for me, the bird flew about fifteen feet down and began working the edge of the goldenrod. Then I began fighting with the auto focus on my camera which seemed to want to focus on every single branch either in front of or behind the wren... I got this shot off before it went back into the shade of the weedy stalks a little further in.I got this final shot of the bird before a greens keepers rolled up on a mower and scared the bird further back into the vegetation.
I don't know about you guys, but I'm stunned to get this species here. This is a bird I never recorded at my folks house in WI which had breeding BOBO, SAVS, EAME and a 7 acre hay field. Rarity-meter worthy or not?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fallout Warning!

Holy crap! I have never had this many warblers in my back yard. It sure was exciting with a few Yard Lifers mixed in! I was feeling crappy as I pulled in the drive, beat from getting up fairly early to lead a bird walk at the park today (I'm not really complaining, but I was tired). It was a really birdy bird walk with decent numbers of 13 sp. of warblers, Yellow Bellied Fly catcher, Acadian Flycatcher (still calling), Red-headed Woodpecker juv. (rare in the park), Barred Owls, etc. But as I climbed out of my car feeling slightly better I saw a warbler alight in the crappy hybrid cherry tree right behind my house. It was a BTNW, what a joy! I could feel it in the air, it had just rained and I could hear some more chips and a BGGN in the row of pines beside my house. In that I found a CMWA and a NAWA. I headed down to the creek (a short 200 yards back) and started my owl whistlin'. What popped up was a Yard lifer, a gorgeous YBFL! Next to it was some other Empid, It may have been a WIFL, didn't look much like a LEFL. I looked to my left when I heard some chip notes and the Honey Locust tree was alive! BBWA at last, possibly a HY male. Multiple BLPW, NAWA, AMRE, BTNW, CMWA, CSWA, BAWW, WIWA, MAWA, TEWA, but no friggin BLBW! This after I had about 8 or so of them at the park. Its how it goes. I can't complain because the next plumage lifer was very exciting for me, even though several of us bloggers here have it already, it was a life plumage for me. After the hoppin' locust tree I went down the brushy hedgerow and I pished a couple times. Something stirred from down low and hopped up and as I raised the bins I noticed its tail slightly up (glad I didn't dismiss it as a wren in the worsening light before I looked closer). There was a HY Mourning Warbler! Awesome broken eyering, dark lores, pinkish legs, green back, yellow underparts, and yellow throat with shadow hood. It was up, then down then up again, and then it was gone. Classic MOWA behavior. Its funny how I've seen decent numbers (maybe 12+) of adult males in my life, only one adult female, and now this youngster. Do the females and juv. birds just lay low? Or are there that many more males out there. Its always the MOWA's behavior that alerts my attention to it, so I don't think it has anything to do with a certain plumage being more noticeable than another. Anyways, it kicked ass. Last night an odd thing happened. I had a feeling I should open the window to listen for night migrants, it being a prime night for them, and seconds after I stuck my head out I heard a distinct down slurred "queerrr", tweeerr/peeuu, or whatever it sounds like to you. I heard little else, a few un-identifiable (by me) zeeeps etc. I couldn't believe I just got GCTH just like that. Ever feel like you have some kind of birder sixth sense?

Finaly more Bath Action

I added a few more warblers on this past Thursday (9/9)...most seen in/near the bath. Here's the complete list:
Blackpoll Warbler - 1 (Year bird #98 AND #26/26 for all the warblers on my all-time yard list now having been seen in 2010).
Bay-breasted Warbler - 1
Cape May Warbler - 2
Mourning Warbler - 1 (3rd yard record, first for fall)
Nashville Warbler - 1
American Redstart - 2
Magnolia Warbler - 1
I've also seen a Swainson's Thrush using the bath the past 2 mornings (on Friday a.m. it was 46Degrees at bath time!).
Surprisingly there have been NO Tennessee Warblers here yet.
Sorry for no pictures, my camera was out of battery power. Also, my laptop's hard drive went ca-put so I've been computer-less lately (other than my iPod touch which does not jive with posting to the blog). I'll post as I can.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Finally some migrant love

Migrant Love! So at long last I had some decent warblers in along the creek today, plus a few other interesting migrants. Nothing too spectacular. I tried to make the NOWA into a LOWA, but it wouldn't work for me. The little guy even was singing softly. Other weak songs I heard today were RBGR, WAVI, and AMRE. But I did get a yard lifer! Its such a lame yard lifer I'm ashamed to brag about it. Its a shame this species doesn't nest in my back yard. Stupid Blue-winged Warblers. It was a beautiful little male though. A pleasant sight on a very pleasant day. Another highlight was all the BLPW! Such an epic migrant I'm always glad to see them. No BBWA today though. I can't believe I'm missing that, I usually get it. Soon, I hope. Here is a list to spite you all:
Location:     Home Observation date:9/10/10 
Number of species:     56  
Canada Goose     10 Wild Turkey     6 Great Blue Heron     1 Turkey Vulture     8 Red-shouldered Hawk     3 Red-tailed Hawk     1 Killdeer     1 Mourning Dove     6 Yellow-billed Cuckoo     1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird     5 Red-bellied Woodpecker     4 Downy Woodpecker     4 Northern Flicker     1 Eastern Wood-Pewee     3 Empidonax sp.     1 Eastern Phoebe     1 Great Crested Flycatcher     1 Warbling Vireo     2 Red-eyed Vireo     1 Blue Jay     12 American Crow     6 Barn Swallow     4 Carolina Chickadee     8 Tufted Titmouse     4 White-breasted Nuthatch     6 Carolina Wren     2 House Wren     6 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher     1 Eastern Bluebird     2 Swainson's Thrush     1 American Robin     80 Gray Catbird     20 European Starling     12 Cedar Waxwing     6 Blue-winged Warbler     1 Nashville Warbler     1 Magnolia Warbler     2 Black-throated Green Warbler     1 Blackpoll Warbler     8 Black-and-white Warbler     1 American Redstart     6 Northern Waterthrush     1 Common Yellowthroat     3 Wilson's Warbler     1 Canada Warbler     1 Eastern Towhee     2 Chipping Sparrow     1 Field Sparrow     4 Song Sparrow     2 Scarlet Tanager     1 Northern Cardinal     10 Rose-breasted Grosbeak     1 Indigo Bunting     1 Common Grackle     80 House Finch     4 American Goldfinch     8 House Sparrow     6

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A real good one...

Last night, while sitting on the roof and talking to Curtis, amongst the hundreds of seeps, SWTH, and occasional GCTH flying over, I heard (and recorded) a low, dry buzzy note. In the recording, you can hear me say "Whoa, buzz note. Holy crap, that sounded like Dickcissel! Curtis, I think that might have been a Dickcissel." It was a noticably dry note, lacking any of the piercing, metallic/high=pitched quality of INBU, etc. I figured it either had to be BLGR or DICK, or something else not expected in my yard.

So, this morning, I anxiously analyzed the recording to see what I could do with it. The bird was pretty high up, so that it was barely picked up on the sonogram, but it is there, and most critically, the frequency range of what's visible is in the 2,800-5,500 HZ range only. The duration is around 0.08 sec. Basically, boys, what I suspected at the time is confirmed. None of the other buzzes are this low-pitched, and I judged by ear (immediately) that the sound quality was way too dull/dry for INBU. So, Skyler, enjoy losing your lead back again!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Thrush Movement in HUGE


I had a massive thrush flight this morning around 5AM. In about 20 minutes of listening, I had between 120-150 Swainson's move over. With this large thrush movement, I added two new yard birds:

GCTH (#61/63) & VEER (#62/64)

I also had 4 different warbler notes, each of which was different. MUST. GET. MICRO-PHONE.

Finally, it's BACK ON

And mine aren't House Sparrows, unlike at Curtis's place...

This is the first time this fall that I've had any substantial #s of warbs in the bath. It required much tweaking of the setup out there to get them comfortable enough to come in. For the longest time birds would approach the bath within a foot but balk at actually getting in, then fly off. But finally, today they gathered the courage to do it.

The tally:

Now to just get some more diversity...


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Just a little MOWA

A gorgeous adult male Morning Warbler came to investigate the bath this evening. It wasn't around long enough for a photo op, but hopefully it will be back tomorrow. Other highlights at the water feature today were adult male Cape May Warbler & Ovenbird. Lots of Swainson's Thrush eating grapes in the tree tops. Yesterday a female BTBW was outside the bay window for a few minutes. Best bird of the weekend was an Osprey (146) Sunday evening that leisurely glided fifty feet overhead as a group of us were enjoying the spectacle of hundreds of migrating Black Saddlebags and Green Darners in the south field.

RTHU just in time

In the gale south winds I had a long overdue life yardbird in the form of a Ruby-throat buzz me while I was watching a young Myrtle Warb hop around a dead snag. I glared at the MYWA for a while just so he knew I didn't appreciate him signaling the end of quality warbler flocks is nearer than I'd like...

Monday, September 6, 2010


So, yard birding of late has been completely useless for the most part. Absolutely zero warblers all weekend. I did get a good look at Mr. Black-billed Cuckoo today though. That did make up for some of the pain, since its always cool to see one of these unusual/odd birds. He was giving me the old once over as well. Well, I've got plenty of webworm/tent caterpillars etc, I hope he enjoys his stay at the Warner Ranch. I'm definitely in warbler withdraw. Help.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

New fall warbs and an Oporornis!

Dudes, had a nice morning of migrants here. Best warbler diversity of the fall thus far (9 species). Highlights were a flock of 4 Cape May Warblers in one spruce (woke up to a warbler chipping right outside my window which turned out to be a CMWA...). A lone Northern Parula foraging low in the willows and grass with TEWA, AMRE, and BLPW was cool.I also had my first Common Yellowthroat since late May today which I put photos of up just for Putnam's benefit.The other additions were a Wilson's Warbler and a flyover Oporornis species that was almost certainly MOWA based on the flight call it gave (sounded very similar to TEWA/NAWA, was definitely not a CONW zeep, and had a grayish hood). I'm on the fence whether I can count it as a MOWA with the observation I had. Thoughts? If there are objections, I'm okay just calling it an Oporornis species.
RBGR, VEER, SWTH, BOBO, and SOSA rounded out my migrants for the AM.

Bird Bath Bonanza...

Check out the Bonanza at the Bird Bath...

Putnam, I think I beat you by a long shot for "shear number of birds in the bath at one time"!

In addition to this "excitement" (if you want to call a flock of HOSP's exciting) I added the following birds over the last few days...

9/2 - #97 - Veery (some people actually get to SEE them in their yards) I also saw a Swainson's Thrush and had a bad look at what was likely a Gray-cheeked foraging by the Swainson's.

And to the Warbler War...(it's been slim pickn's here):
8/27 - Magnolia Warbler
9/3 - Ovenbird
Today I had only Red-eyed Vireo and a Wilson's Warbler for migrants...and they were like pulling teeth to find too. ARGH!
On a positive note, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have finally become regular to my feeder! YEAH!