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.

Friday, December 23, 2011


Friday, December 16, 2011

Two life yardbirds on Dec 16!?

This morning I went out to get a complete checklist in for the third week of December (one of the few holes left in the eBird bar chart for my place).  I didn't have great aspirations (hoping to relocate the SWSP that's been hanging on with the junco and tree sparrow flock), but the warm weather and rain from the past couple of days reopened the water at the wetlands, greatly increasing the potential diversity for the morning.
I ended up with three birds I didn't expect (including 2 life yardbirds!)...  All bolded below:

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  830
Gadwall (Anas strepera)  1 male associating with small group of MALL in shallow pond (#171 for the yard)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  18
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)  4 (2 males and 2 females)
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  1     Immature bird with bum wing.  I'm astonished to see this bird alive and preening on a log this morning.  This pond froze up 6 days ago and almost certainly didn't open back up until the temps came back up on Wednesday and rain thawed things on Thursday.  I checked the snags and logs last Saturday to see if it was still alive sitting above the iced over pond and was unable to see it.  How did it survive at least 4 days of ice!?
Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  1
Red-tailed Hawk (Eastern) (Buteo jamaicensis borealis)  1
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  6
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)  1
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  4
Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor)  1     Singing bird in shrubby crabapple along the margin of golf course.  Lots of tall grass/brush and cattails with numerous sparrows and rodents around, possibly could winter in this area? (#170 for the yard) (photo taken on 12/17 as the bird obligingly hung around to be counted on the FermiLab CBC!)
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  1
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  6
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  17
American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea)  3
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) (Junco hyemalis hyemalis/carolinensis)  12
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)  4
House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)  17
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  3
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  8

I didn't bring a camera out this morning (as I expected to be pulling teeth birdwise), but I'll try to relocate the NSHR tomorrow or Sunday morning and get some photos.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Good life yardbird

Just had a WISN fly over the house at dusk, giving the scrapy, reedy, single note repeated at a regular, slow interval. Bread- hate to say it but you are TIED for the year with someone who started on 20 September!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

steady now

It's time like this that make me wish I'd moved into this place just 2 weeks earlier- so my current additions would add to my lead rather than inch me closer to not being in last place (!). But that is my reality, and there are many species left to add. Just had this puppy fly over (72/72):Also, last Wednesday I was birding with RAZL under 1 mile from my house when we had these unexpected beauts:
Here's hoping they make the jaunt into the spruce in my yard instead. Mic is listening as we speak.

Update: within 20 minutes of making this post I started to hear PISI through my mic (73/73) so I went outside and as I scanned the spruce in the front yard I flushed 8 WWCR (74/74) off the top of that tree!! Ridiculous. No pictures as they departed heading NE, but if they come back I will try again. Can't believe we are having another WWCR invasion year.

Bread- now you really better watch out: 1 to go and you are tied for 2nd to last. All it would take is one RLHA or AMKE...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Yarding in My Dreams

So, one sleep deprived night, the deep hooting of a pair of Great Horned Owls woke me out of a dead sleep. I shot up in bed to confirm, then my wife asked me what was wrong. Everything after that is a blur...

Fast forward two weeks and again, I had to crawl out of bed at an early hour so that I could get on the road for an early start to my work day...and it hit me. Didn't I hear a GHOW a couple weeks ago? At this point, I was convinced that it was one of those vivid dreams but as the day went along, I started recalling more details about this memory. When I got home, I asked Em if she remembered my waking up to a calling GHOW. She confirmed and thus yard bird #83 was born.

I'll refrain from the use of "epic" here so I'll settle for "Neato!"

Nov. 20th Grasshopper Sparrow!!!!

Well, well, well....... Now you fellas are known to just toss around the word epic so often that the word begans to loose it's meaning. In the words of Inigo Montoya- You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIP6EwqMEoE&feature=related

Gentlemen- allow me to educate- Tufted Titmouse in Ohio is not epic. However a Grasshopper Sparrow on Lake Superior, on November 20th, in the snow, in a suburban yard in the center of a decently sized city, providing not only the UP, but the entire State of Michigan with a new record late date by a matter of 3 weeks (with the former record being both mine and surpassing any other records by several more weeks!),
Well...... now this is epic. Matter of fact, if it weren't for that damn Prairie Falcon, I would take the blue ribbon of rarities in the yard for the year.

So there ya have it boya's- enjoy, weep, hang up the binoculars, cause it aint gonna get better then this for the rest of the year.

Friday, November 11, 2011

late date

Had a couple of tardy yardbirds this past week. At my place in Hancock I snagged a Blackpoll Warbler -- the previous late date for the Keweenaw was September 30!

A Field Sparrow at the feeder in Esky today was only the third for the yard (first in fall) and late for the UP.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I passed someone! (sort of)

So last night, as CUDY alluded, I heard 2 flocks of TUSW go over my house. The first sounded like it was alighting on Whitefish Lake, the second clearly flew over heading south. Thanks for the tip!

Also awoke this morning to 2 Purple Finches "pikking" from the treetop above the feeder. This brings me to 69 life yardbirds, which makes me officially ahead of the Boonedoggle's Slab in IL. Yeah, yeah, it's an inactive site, but I need something to keep me going. ANJO you are next boy! Might want to protect yourself and do a little yardbirding??

CUDY is Back...TUSWeet!

I know it's been a LONG time since I've posted (or even been paying attention to) this blog, but I'm back. I won't go into detail about my long hiatus, but it's legit.
So, I've added a couple of life yard birds in the mean time (one of which came tonight and was the impetus to post) and a couple year birds too.

The 2 year birds are:
9/22: Northern Parula (98) - at the bird bath
9/22: Blackpoll Warbler (99) - ditto above -
*That makes for 25 warbler species for 2011 - which is only one shy of my life yard warbler list (I missed CERW this year - DANG IT!) and makes for the highest total of warbler species for 2011 on this blog....am I right RIBR?

Here are the 2 life yard birds:
9/11: Eastern Screech Owl (97/121) - after many failed attempts to call this bird it just happened to start singing from across the street one random September night...upon which CAPU was over and got to share in the joy. Go figure.

11/9: Tundra Swan (100/122)- after talking to CAPU about my biggest county nemesis earlier this evening (and one I never seriously considered chasing cross-county for), 2 flocks (heard only) just happened to fly over my house late tonight in the strong, gusty west winds. So I called CAPU back with the news, at which point he turns on his mic and later emails me the news that he's now added it as a life yard bird to his new pad. You're welcome Putz.

Ok, now I think I'm up-to-date.

Monday, November 7, 2011

3 more yard lifers

Given how many easy yard lifers I still need (most waterfowl, RLHA, any falcon, AMPI, PUFI, etc.) it is not surprising I keep on knocking em down. But it is kind of fun getting the common ones anyway. Today had a NOHA drop out of the sky, investigate the field across the road and move on. Followed by Herring Gulls (not sure why it took so long with them present daily on the lake .5 miles from the house), and my first American Tree Sparrow. Northern Shrike is next, gents. The habitat across the street is good enough that it might even hold one for the winter... 67 and inching up on Booner and Jonesin.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Another Lifer

The north winds let up a bit on Friday morning, but not before they delivered 6 Canvasback into my field of view. I love the joy and exhilaration of a new bird no matter how inconsequential it's standing. In this case it's a new yardbird, 154/189. During that half hour between dawn and work I was also able to scope 4 COLO and 10 scaup sp. Like yesterday, these were also with the vantage west as they headed south above the treeline along Lake MI. Can't imagine what I've missed being at work during the majority of these fabulous flights.....

Today a single Snow Bunting (155) flew over while I was scoping the Kalamazoo River drainage from the roof top. This bird was expected. Now, where are you Tundra Swan?!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Ducky Day

North winds for a change prompted a distant "lake watch" this morning before work. I actually can't see Lake Michigan from the yard as it is a mile away and hidden by trees, but the land to it slopes gradually downhill and waterfowl picked up by a consistent strong wind can sail high above the treeline and even fly a short ways inland. Today I was not disappointed. In the short time (45 mins) I had to scope from the west boundary of the yard I picked up 3 year yardbirds one of which was a yard lifer. Among the hundreds of waterfowl moving south I picked out one ABDU (151/188) in a flock of MALL, 35 GRSC (152) and a dozen RBME (153). Yup, as lackluster as ABDU is as a lifer it's more than welcome!

On the other hand, another great bird got away. I had my rooftop mic running as I was getting ready to get out and bird when through it came the chatter of one and possibly two White-winged Crossbill as they made their way over the house. As fast as I could get outside I could not relocate them. This was exasperating because, and correct me if I'm wrong, according to the rules of the game, this is not a countable observation due to the intervention of the mic. Hopefully, these WWCR are the start of more to come, although RECR is of greater importance to me for the yard and county.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat

I walked outside this evening to look for trick-r-treaters and our dog Lilly ran out and around the corner. The next thing I saw - at eye level - was an immy goshawk coming around the corner. I'm pretty sure it was trying to nab one of our hens. It curved around the front yard and looked like it perched in the neighbors yard but I never saw it again. #151 on the year and #180 on the two year. Also from the yard --the Marble Godwit.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

yard birding- the nightmare edition

I awoke this morning from an incredibly vivid dream, the kind that you really have to convince yourself that "no, that didn't happen, it was just a dream..."

My dream was i had a Townsend's Warbler hopping around the ground in my yard with the sparrows- oh the horror! Im sweating.....

Friday, October 21, 2011

closing the gap

Hot day on the lair. The best was seeing Skye and Ryan The Force in my yard. Second best was five yearbirds. One lifer - horned grebe - replaces podiceps sp...


Gang of 6 meadowlarks flying down Portage Point going west. That bird is going dirt!
Marbled Godwit!
Horned Grebe - the first ever id'ed to species (146)
Gadwall pair (phew) - First of year (#147)
Rough-legged Hawk (#148) - first of the year
plover - undoubtably Black-bellied. Two, but not enough clarity to go diagnostic...makes me second guess the American's a few days back....humm.

In the evening - half dozen snow buntings (#149) roosting in the marsh.
A large flock of Redhead -- #150!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

RBNU in the spruce grove

This makes 82 for the year at The Cheddarlands.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

slowly but surely

Been adding only a few new ones lately. The weather has the yard much hoppier than usual as of late. Why this one took so long is seriously beyond me, but as I was mentioning to Sean on the phone my frustration at not being able to get it, one appeared on the feeder...

Also had 2 of these Red-eyed Sparrows show up today, joining the longstanding flock of WCSP at the feeder. This was an unexpected yardbird tooOn a serious note (that was a Kent tick for me), I also finally knocked off my first Accipiter in the yard, a SSHA which took a few swipes at the feederbirds. 61 and counting. Watch it Boonedoggle.

Toying with the big fella

After an April godwit sp. I was pleasantly surprised last night with a trip to the Swamp Lair; out amongst the sandbar Mallards and Black Ducks was a bantam sized Marbled Godwit.

The heavy winds this week have sucked all the water out of Portage Bay so I can now see shoreline from the platform, and with cooler temps I'm getting decent resolution (I'm exactly 1 mile from the mudflats). Other recent shorebirds have included a Pectoral/Dunlin, a second helping of Sanderling, and an American Golden Plover to replace a small handful of Pluvaris sp. of last year. The flurry doesn't change my overall yard total but inches me up to 144 for the yea

Monday, October 17, 2011


Figured with the strong west winds this morning something should be pushed inland from the big lake. Sure enough a couple female Northern Pintail (150) obliged mixed in with a flock of Mallard. A young peregrine liesurely flying south was 149 and an Am. Pipit before that provided 148. Fun again now with the Kat on my tail.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

4 yard birds in one day

Best day since spring migration? Or just a measure of how poor my yard has been this year. I say the latter as two of the birds were the normal gimmes of Palm Warbler and Clay-colored Sparrow. Both of those birds not only should have happened months ago, they should have happened several times over already! As for the other, Hermit Thrush is not regularly detected here at the Haas Tract, and Swamp Sparrows are not seen too often on my sandy, high elevation, aspen/oak suburban neighborhood.....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Best Starling imitation EVER!

I thought I heard a RUBL (common here in late fall) mumbling from the red maple above the house. While trying to block out the calls of a flock of RWBL in a neighbor's tree to focus on the Rusty I took notice of an incessantly signing bird that sounded dead-on for a meadowlark (albeit the song was whispery). I figure it was a EUST but when I tried to find the starling I came up an EAME instead. - Su-prise! It flew to an adjacent tree and sang every 1-3 seconds, including an occasional chatter, for approximately 15 minutes. I'm not use to fall meadowlarks signing non-stop in migration, so Im delighted. Lifer #179 for the yard and #140 for the year. Fall-of-the-year....

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Big Joke

Haven't downloaded the whole thing yet but what I heard scared me....


Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Well oh well, I have already blazed past Mr. Ireland in the life list competition (which took about 1 week), and Booner is about to be taken down as well. And I still don't have Hairy Woodpecker nor lots of other gimme species. Been monkeying with the new Canon DSLR/telephoto (which is SWEET) and still learning the ropes on exposure, aperture, and ISO. Here are some of the locals currently in the yard:


Unidentified Locustella sp. (identified solely by rectrix tip spacing):
WCSP (nice flock at feeder currently)
RCKI (new today)
Gone' be interesting whether RIBR can hold on with Kat on his tail... Also, where are our esteemed colleagues Jonesin, RAZL, Warned, and Bread?!?!? Are you guys still alive?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hat Trick

October 1, 2011

Woke early, checked the radar, nice flight. Clear, Orion high in sky, the odd seep note. Went back to sleep. Woke at dawn, high wispy clouds; perfect for migration. Gale force winds of the day before now calm, perfect again. I brewed coffee, gruffed at the empty feeder, then settled down in the chair to finish reading the BIG YEAR.

The tinge of guilt that has been pestering me all year was as strong as the coffee. I really should be out working the last vestige of migration. I kept turning pages. I should fill the feeders, scope for ducks, walk outside and listen. Instead I read about Sandy Komito, Al Levantin, and Greg Miller making good on their obsession birding across American. I couldn't musser the enthusiasm to travel across my yard. The story isn't that compelling, though I marvel at the author's ability to keep a three way “competition”, that began and ended on Attu (Komito spent more time there than the other two), "fresh".

I finished the book by 10 am. Feeling motivated, I made another cup of coffee. I fantasized about hiring guides to bird my yard and call me about missing birds while I loaf on the couch that we don't have. I felt a tang of motivation; IF I gave it my all I might be able to catch Big Rig Komito by the years end. My list of missed yardbirds for the year is impressive and some are still within the range of possibility.

A trumpet of cranes heard inside the house broke my reverie. 50 were flying over in a V.... I called for Chris and she came to look too, responding “what’s that other bird circling”….still amped from the Big Year I frantically scrambled inside to find my bins and cried “where, where”, sure-nuf a sky high Red-tail inched me closer to my own Sandy Komito: Big Rig Brigham. That was #137 for for the year….I kept scanning overhead; another tail, then a couple sharpies, broad-wing, another sharpy. With Golden Eagle nagging I went inside to pack for my trip downstate (Tigers baby!). Never thought my dreams of a yard-guide would be fulfilled so quickly.

Around 2 pm, I decided it was time to fill the feeders and check passerines on the way to the platform. I stepped into the backyard and was meet with movement at my usually lifeless water feature; Blue-headed Vireo…. #138 for the year and a life yardbird, #177.

I knew I had to make it a Hat-Trick so I could pound on here about my exploits. I walked 200 feet through alder and buckthorn to the platform. At the end of the trail I caught movement through dense cover --- a medium sized bird darted away. It looked awfully like a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher which meant it had to be a cuckoo – and this time of year undoubtably a Yellow-billed Cuckoo; a Code 3 Fall Vagrant in the UP and a Code 5 UP yardbird. A Cuckoo lost in a sea of alder, buckthorn, and willow. I climbed the platform and spent time contemplating how to salvage the title to this blog post. Was cuckoo sp. appropriate for a silhouette? Would I honestly answer this rhetorical question? I scanned the vegetation for sign of the cuckoo -- after 10 minutes of contemplation there it was, 50 meters away perched motionless on the branch of a white ash, just the way it was suppose to be. I retreated for my guide (Chris) and digiscope. #139 for the year and #178 for the yard. o.k. where's the snowcock??

Friday, September 30, 2011

hello Huffy

We're now tied at 52, with the addition of BAWW and MYWA.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Been a lot slower the past few days since the last big push of neotrops went over, but was pleased (and not surprised given the habitat behind my place) to have a calling Red-shouldered 2 days ago. Since then the pickins are slim.

On a side note: my awesome 21c microphone from Oldbird.org bit it on the first rainstorm, with 1 inch of water inside the watertight compartment! Called Oldbird and this is the first in 30+ which have come back. Fortunately for me their customer service is tops and it is being replaced as we speak. Looking forward to being able to listen to the sky from inside ASAP. Hussey- 2 more sp. and you are destroyed on the life yardlist competition, and Booner, get busy cause 71 ain't gonna last in 12th place for long, m'boy...

The Big Year?

Um, has anyone else see the trailer for this copy-kat movie?


No similarities with any of the characters on this site....

biggest thing for birds since Silent Spring?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Hey finally a bird to report!

I just had a Solitary Sandpiper go over the Haas Tract, calling away in the fog. This is only the 2nd or 3rd time I've had this bird from the house, and its been a few years. A flyover Greater Yellowlegs from a few weeks ago is my only other shorebird for the year here. Still annoyed at JD for scoring a Spottie on his forested hilltop a couple miles south of me....

Well I have never had such a dead yard in the many falls I have lived here, its completely ridiculous. I have NO idea where the birds are, my yard can be such a good spot to watch fall warblers in, this year, they have been near completely absent- its terrible.

On the good side, I am up to 91, my sights on Curtis and Boots in my rear-view mirror...

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Streaking over the yard this afternoon.

I'll be stuck in Brazil for the next week, missing more of fall prime time, so will be real disappointed Haas if you haven't landed a nice counter punch in the "epic" battle for 8th place.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Well, with apathy and lameness as the status quo here (watch out Booner, you're first to fall), I may have the lead here in shorter order than I expected. (if only I'd have moved in August when EAKI, BAOR, Empids, RTHU, and countless other early fall migrants were still around). It is fun building a life yardlist from scratch, and here is how it has gone in the first 3 full days:

YTVI (still singing)
CMWA (nice spanking adult male)
ROPI (nice after trying and missing for 2 years at the last place!)
HOSP (yes this took 3 days to add)

RHWO (wow- this species took 1.5 years to get at my last house, not 1.5 days!)
REVI/WAVI/PHVI (mew call heard only)
WOTH- 1 NFC (probably Veeries were in the mix too- but I need to look at sonograms to be sure)

BDOW (singing at night)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Guess who's back?

Silly Putty, my friends, is back in the saddle BABY, after a long and dismal respite never to be discussed again. Though the hour is late for calendar year 2011, the insides are again churning for yardbird domination. Why? Because I am the newest resident of Montcalm County, where I just moved yesterday into a small rural house well-suited for beating the tar out of a bunch of... er, let's be real, getting my ass beaten all over again with pure enjoyment.

This house is on 1 acre of wooded habitat, not far from a quite large lake with adjoining smaller lake well-suited to Ixobrychus exilis and other gems. Witness:
This house will undoubtedly outdo my last in waterbirds if for the proximity of such a large waterfowl and waterbird magnet. Across the street lurks an overgrown old field (a bit late for BRTH and FISP this year, perhaps, though I'll try):
The view of the horizon above the old field is rather impressive too, totalling almost 180 degrees of the sky hemisphere, which should help for flyover raptors and waterfowl. Another added benefit is the presence of low thickets of vegetation in the back yard (something totally lacking at my last residence, which is why I never recorded COYE, SWSP, LISP, MOWA, etc.):Anyway, since finishing moving in less than 24 hours ago, I have mounted the brand spanking new Bill Evans 21c microphone on the roof (currently recording and listening to a live feed featuring 20+ SWTH, 1 GCTH, and 10+ warblers since starting typing this message), plus set up the feeding station and watering hole, and lured in the local BCCH flock to check for any lingering early/mid September warblers I am about to miss (only MAWA obliged):So, to sum up, GAME ON, beeches.

Here is today's and yesterday's eBird checklists for this newly minted patch:


Sanderling only 6585.20 feet away! #176.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

The Cheddarlands hit #71 yesterday when a YBFL turned up in the neighbor's ash around 830AM. I had GREAT looks at this guy for about 30 minutes. Then an hour later, I went back out to look for more migrants. The YBFL was still in the same tree, flycatching like no tomorrow. This went on for the entire day, until I last went out around 730PM. This is by far the most extensive study of this species that I've ever had. I even managed scope views on a couple of occasions.

Other migrants were AMRE and REVI. I'm finding that the silver maples (which nominate the neighborhood) just do not pull in many migrants. From my vantage point, I have yet to see an oak species in any of the neighbor's yards.

Other highlights yesterday were southbound BWHA and a few mid-day groups of CONIs.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Preview - butterfly knots.

I've done my best to avoid working the new yard but last night a Red Knot in scope view was a nice little preview of the kind of whoop-ass I'm going to unload next year on you beeches when I lock and load with a new abode. How's that for trash talk (conspicuously absent in recent months)?

Unfortunately, I've also not doing a good job working the swamp lair.....I've lost my mojo, not even a new Pominar has turned the tide. I have been enjoying a flush of wildflowers and butterflies in my "new" prairie. I've also been going ape-shit on the buckthorn. It failed to deliver a mockingbird so now it has to pay the piper.

Round-U.P. ready!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Made it to 65

No warbs to speak of on this GORGEOUS day at The Cheddarlands. But I did eek out three new yard birds:

CLSW #63
RBGU #64
BAEA #65

All of the birds were high flying birds heading due North.

The dam has busted!

Three new year yardbirds today and a host of f.o.s. proves things are on the move. Thank god the bird drought is over! EASO, RSHA & PIWA add up to 147. Warblers of the day were NOWA, WIWA, CAWA, BAWW, MAWA, PIWA & AMRE.

Details here:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Come on Irene!

Hurricane Irene delivers yard bird #100 - 6 Forster's Terns miraculously appear from the outer bands of the storm this afternoon.

Was dreaming of a frigatebird, but I'll take 'em.

Friday, August 26, 2011

NOWA is better than later

A big push of birds last night according to radar. Although I didn't get out this morning to survey, this one (#144) joined me for breakfast. While I ate blueberry pancakes it picked off some tasty bugs from the surface of the water feature.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yard Lifer #62

Lucked into this guy while looking for a calling EAWP. I had a flyover CONI on 22 August but I'll take this obs too.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Nighthawk Lifer Yardbird -- #175

Five or so silhouetted over over Portage Point/Marsh last evening on a big fat rising moon answered the question why I missed this puppy last year.... they migrate through here in mid-August when I'm off banding loons.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


So I found what was likely an EASO pellet on the roof of my wife's car this evening. Does this mean I can count it?

That's about it for summer yardage for me. Although I did manage to get a photo of the female COHA that is terrorizing the neighbor's mini terrier (you know...the kind of dog that has bows in its hair and get's a weekly pedicure...).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Month of nothing.....well, almost nothing

The site feels a little abandoned ....like a lifeless crapscrape...I mean moonscape. I've had very little yard action in the last month; my second yard INBU (a singing male), and two year birds in the form of Cedar Waxwing and Green Heron (#130).

One interesting bird of note - I've seen a EUCD down the street three times since June 6th directly across the street from a house Chris and I made an offer on when we first moved to Escanaba. I think that's notable for a yardbirding blog in the "near miss" category (for house and bird).

Got my water feature up and running for the first time this season, that shows you my level of motivation.

Bring on the fall warblers, huh Curtis?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

May out like a lamb, June in like a lion

It always amazes me how spring migration (or at least the feeling) stops dead on June 1.

This year is no different except I've added a few new birds -- like a drip.

Today, heard PUMA, saw a Red-eyed Vireo carrying food, and added a lifer yardbird in the song Eastern Wood-Pewee (#127, #174). Have also added recent Fee-bee-o and Phoebe.

For the summer survey I made sure I heard two YELLOW RAILS calling on June 2. Tic, tic, tic.

Friday, June 3, 2011


Well, thats what I wanted to have after getting my 142nd yard lifer here at the Hasscienda. But no time to rest for the weary (...or the wicked). I guess my timing was just right to pull up into the driveway today and observe an empid foraging low in the lilac bushes.

I've only spent about 7 days total this May at my home and getting new birds, I'm sure a ton of spring warblers just passed right through as I was off birding the coastlines. The only other thing of note was about a week ago, I got my long-awaited and somewhat over-due yard lifer Blackburian Warbler. Oh the joy. Passed Caleb on the yard lifer list too, his brief stay a bird ahead of me was just too unbearable to stand for, and hell, I enjoy picking low-hanging fruit.

I'm off to my cabin in the Big Two-hearted River country this evening, so a temporary yard list shall be duly provided when I am back in front of the computer again. There, Blackburian is a daily yard bird.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


After forcing myself to look at pretty much every one of the thousands of Mourning Doves that fly through my neighborhood, I finally found what I was looking for. White-winged Dove, rare (but regular) bird in the Grand Valley. Mini-ching! Also, the first Common Nighthawk of the year - peent!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Less(er) Birding Time

Picking up what I can with a newborn baby girl in one hand, binoculars in the other, toothpicks holding my eyes open, and a 15-month old hanging from my leg. Can't keep up with all you damn warbler magnets. Time to pull out a huge bird bath, buy more trees, set bowls of mealworms, orange slices, and grape jelly everywhere, build a marsh, and shoot all the Dumpster Finches. A Lesser Goldfinch singing from the aspen in the front yard was a good start though. The 55-mph winds coming out of Utah tomorrow better blow in another Common Black-hawk (seen last week a few miles east of my house)...

A.M. Bird Alarm

This a.m. I woke up to my alarm clock as normal...but what really got me out of bed was the music coming from outside my open window. "Vireo" I thought, "but that's NOT Red-eyed. It's too light, sweet and slow. PHILLY VIREO!" I threw my clothes on and ran outside for looks at this rare visitor to the yard. Sure enough I got great looks at the bird - even watching it catch a caterpillar. That's only the 2nd yard record for PHVI here.
It was a nice reminder that even though migration is winding down, there are still birds to be had! I'm due for Acadian Flycatcher and Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nervous tics. . .

With all of Joe's damned tics, I'm starting to feel like Clouseau's boss in the Pink Panther. At least the rest of us photograph our birds, like this little guy from over the weekend:


RAZL DAZL - just passed you up for 2011. Just thought I'd let you know that I'm again leading you in all categories.

5/26 - Mourning Warbler - singing male (94) - that ties me with RIBR at 23 Warblers for 2011.
5/30 - Great Blue Heron (95)

Monday, May 30, 2011

tic, tic, tic, tic, tic, tic, tic,tic, tic, tic, tic, tic, tic, tic,tic, tic, tic, tic, tic, tic, tic,tic, tic, tic, tic, tic, tic, tic,tic, tic, tic,

Though I've only counted it once I'm now smitten with TWO Yellow Rails in my yard. tic, tic, tic. It's like my yardbirding world has come to a standstill. I've updated my totals (#123, #173) having added two yardbird lifers in the last week; Canada Warbler and Chestnut-sided Warbler (#173). I see Big Rig has a sizable lead -- I recall last year he led by 1 for most of summer. Obviously it's a different story this year though the fall is when the swamp lair really shines so don't get to smug up there at the top, Rig.

Dozed off listening to YELLOW RAIL #2 last night on the platform with my honey "B" only to be awoke by Spotted Sandpipers migrating over....

tic, tic, tic....weep,weep,weep.

Heard Great-cr. Flycatcher this morning from inside the house, so there's still some migration happening in the northlands.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

CUDY Yard Update and #120

Here's what's been added this year to the yard (and one for life-time):

Gray-Cheeked Thrush (88)

Bay-breasted Warbler (89)
Wilson's Warbler (90)

Canada Warbler (91)
Yellow Warbler (92)
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (93/120)

The Yellow-bellied Flycatcher came in to the bird bath and did a few swooping passes over the water, dipping in each time - SWEET! I managed a photo of the Gray-Cheeked at the bird bath (see below). Canada Warbler was singing this a.m. and showed at the bird bath later too. Yellow Warbler is surprisingly hard to get in my yard. My guess is that it's because it has plenty of good habitat nearby that it does not need to stick in the yard.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I couldn'ta been a contenda

I knew this moment was coming. Just smoked by JD, with more of you lunatics to soon come screamin by.

Spring migration has been appallingly slow in the yard (big surprise). Plenty of warblers transiting above without even a call note. Not even a thrush, though hoping for some night migrants tonight with the recent weather system moving out.

Time to reset priorities and hone in on that mega ...

Thursday, May 19, 2011


thats how many LTDU flew past the liar in one hour tonight. You can see it on Nexrad from the MQT station just before dusk. Check out line that develops north of Little Bay de Noc, after dark it is obliterated by birds taking off from the UP, showing a perfect outline of the south shore of Lake Superior. Another cool aspect of this flight is that after dark (10pm) the LTDUs start flying over the house (almost constant calling) so instead of going north they fly NW.

The Gaylord station recorded a massive flight after dusk, lots of translake migrants last night.

I've tried to upload video of the flight but the resolution here is not the best.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Not completely WOTH-less

Itsbeen a week of birding for me, so I've lumped in some of this weeks sightings into this post. Its typical lazy birding style for me. Tuesday, before I went up to Lake Erie for a few days, I had a Black Vulture steal this perch from a TUVU in my yard.
More Pine Siskins in my yard, making this my highest grossing year ever for them. Also the day before that I took a walk out back and got my WOTH for the yard-year, as well as a NOWA (same one?) and some other good stuff like YBCH, OROR, NOPA, YTVI, YTWA. A few days ago I had a YBCU, always fun. Up at the lake I nailed down my final normally occurring warblers for my Ohio year, making this the first time I've had 38 warblers in an Ohio Spring. Here's a pic of K-dubs for you to enjoy as well. He put on a show for many in Columbus, so close I could hardly call it a chase. I should pick-up Swainson's Warbler down in WV next week on my climbing trip, still need it for OH. YYL: 109

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Couple of life yardies (Pine Warbler and Indigo Bunting)

Wish I could say the kat's on fire but that wouldn't be accurate, though the Yellow Rail is still in the yard....

New life birds as I race to 100 (currently #98) this season include a Pine Warbler (#170) on May 13 (sang one from the top of the neighbors Ash Tree before heading out) and Indigo Bunting (#171 finally) on May 14....I heard one call last year in the yard but was in a hurry at the time thinking I'd catch up with it later .... later never came until yesterday. Nice to get these overdue birds outta the way so I can bump it up a notch --- here cuckoo, here chestnut-sided Warbler, here Morning Warbler.....

Northern Waterthrush (first spring record - second yard) and Field Sparrow (2nd yard record) and Am. Woodcock (2nd record).

Not sure if I can catch Chewy or not this year, if I do it certainly won't be this spring. The guy is on fire....White-eyed Vireo, geeeez.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Today was the day for the bird bath. I did not have opportunity to get out for a complete survey...but I'm not sure it much mattered...especially when yard bird #119 showed up (also the 28th warbler species in 3 years time). I just about did a backflip! It's hard to add new warblers when already in the upper 20's - and now that's 2 new warbler additions in less than a week! See below for a photo. I also had multple male Scarlet Tanagers, Cedar Waxwings, a Baltimore Oriole, Red-eyed Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Gray Catbird and a line-up of 7 warbler species (NAWA, TEWA, BTNW, AMRE, CSWA, MAGW and... isn't the suspense killing you - just LOOK BELOW!) all seen/heard from my bedroom window at or near the bird bath. I posted a few pictures of my visitors below. The pictures are all diginoc shots...so not great quality, but you'll get the idea!

Here's the line-up of year birds:

Indigo Bunting (78) - male at the feeder

Red-eyed Vireo (79)
American Redstart (80)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (81)
Magnolia Warlber (82)
and last but not least....Oh, heck, just LOOK BELOW would ya!

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Hooded Warbler (83/119)!!! Can you say "Cha-CHING!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011


One of four solitary sandpipers flying over the hood this past weekend. Always a welcome sight in a waterless landscape.

2 more lifers, 8 more year birds

The yard's been roll'n lately, but I've not been posting. Here's the update:

5/5 - Blue-winged Warbler (70) - at the bath

5/6 - Palm Warbler (71), Cape May Warbler (72), Winter Wren (73), Orange-crowned Warbler (74) and Northern Waterthrush (75/117) bopping around a measly brush pile 50 yards from the only water around (my bath). That's warbler species #27 lifetime for the yard.

5/7 - Tennessee Warbler (in the bath) (76) and Eastern Bluebird (77/118) - LONG awaited - singing to the N of the house and then flying east. Weird time to pick that one up...should be active at the nest (which there are none of nearby).

RAZL - I'm going to keep you at arm's length as long as I can!

Cheap Vireo

This one quickly flew through loudly persisting multiple times that I "pick up the beer check!" The two times prior that this species visited it at least had the decency to share a drink with me. I shouldn't complain about picking up the bill for such uncommon company. Also on my tab today were BAWW, TEWA, WOTH & GCTH.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tic, tic, ticker tape parade

A nice parade of birds today beginning with Yellow Rail at 6:01 am from the lair followed shortly by Sedge Wren, then Yellow & Nashville Warbler and finally Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. #79-#83 for the year.

Pure bliss.

Constant Trickle

A constant trickle of new yard birds, the latest being a flock of White-throated Swifts chittering away (#55), three unbelievable after second-year male Bullock's Orioles in the tall cottonwoods down the street (#56), a lone hungry Cliff Swallow flyover in late evening (#57), Pine Siskin zeeeeeeeeeering from the tree over the neighbor's feeder (#58), and Black-chinned Hummingbird (#59) zipping among the neighborhood feeders (ours isn't out yet - my wife said I "need to get it up quick", which is never a problem, and something I'm looking forward to). The next month is looking good for some serious birding. I can't go up to my field site (4 hrs away) because Meredith is almost 37 weeks pregnant and I have pretty bad cell coverage up there, so I have to make do by scoring more migrants around the house. Other good non-yard species were seen/head today while kayaking the Colorado and catching catfish, so I expect the spring scores will continue! Still looking for Zone-taileds and VEFLs, ever the optimist....


Friday, May 6, 2011

near MEGA....tic,tic.....tic,tic,tic

While leaving the yard briefly to hunt down a signing OCWA I heard a Yellow Rail calling in a sedge edge along the Portage Marsh probably 100 meters from my "yard official". It give 3 series of calls lasting about 8 seconds each. No luck hearing it from the lair....but still what a fun bird to have outside the backdoor. I'm hoping with the wet spring we have had that this is a potential breeding site. Just beyond the YERA I heard the grunting of a VIRA -- a bird that I heard on the 4th along with the whinny of a distant Sora, though I'm holding out for a better "look" at the Sora before adding it to the menagerie.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Whip me a will


It was so close and so loud I thought Haas was messing with my mind in the bushes. Only the second Will from the yard - the one last year was only a couple of distant "poor wills" barely audible. Not really a bird I'd expect but hey I'm not complaining....Fun to learn that it was exactly one day earlier than last year's installment. Also had a Lincoln's Sparrow in the yard - a day later than last year.

Today's installments include DCCO and WCSP (3 days later than last year) for #75 on the year.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Temporary Fix

Photographed are a couple of the highlights from the last two days. The RHWO came repeatedly for seeds this afternoon until dusk. The LISP actually showed up on Sat, but really got visible when I revamped the water feature which it can't seem to get enough of.

BGGN arrived on Sat as did WCSP & COYE. As anticipated, with the forecast south winds, yesterday delivered well with NAWA, WIWR, GCFL, LEFL, BANS, OVEN & CSWA. Besides woody at right today brought
a PIWO, OSPR & CARW. Hope this continues, 'cause I don't like going through withdrawals!


Birding was a little slow in my yard today (might have to do with the fact I woke up at 1:30pm) but I walked out back along the creek and heard my friend the NOWA call out. I got to watch him as he bopped around the oxbow area. Pretty cool, but not what prompted me to post. The bird I saw along the creek on my way back was just down right cool and made me exclaim "wow!" aloud. I was not expecting to see a MARSH WREN right along the creek! this elusive bird gave me great looks as it poked around the stream edge at no less than 15 feet away at times. It was pretty cool. I know some of you have this sp. before but it was a good Yard lifer for me today. Also had GCFL and some other cool stuff, NAWA, YTWA, MYWA(YRWA), CMWA (f) but overall slow birding otherwise. Last night the Barred Owls were hootin' it up. 65 species for the day, 95 for the year. Follow my list on eBird if you care, I'm on the yard totals list beta thingy.

Clay-colored Sparrow and Osprey

White-crowned Sparrow was #39. Best bird today was Clay-colored Sparrow. An Osprey graced The Cheddarlands with it's bad-a-ness.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Oasis (in) Effect!

I had fall-out type conditions today in the yard. At every turn I was finding new birds...kind of felt like the boardwalk at Magee to be honost. I woke to Blackburnian Warbler singing from the large red oak in my back yard and finished at dusk with a Scarlet Tanager dancing in the grass at the base of the same tree. I also had 3 male and 1 female Rose-breasted Grosbeak hanging around feeding and bathing all day and one brief water hole visit by a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (never seen that before).
All told I had a 45 species day with 18 new year birds!!!
Here's the additions:

Blackburnian Warbler (52)
Blue-headed Vireo
White-crowned Sparrow
House Wren
Great-crested Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Turkey Vulture (long time coming)
Bald Eagle (59/116) - finally scored this with a high soaring imm. bird
Pine Warbler (2nd yard record)
Baltimore Oriole
Wood Thrush
Warbling Vireo
Swainson's Thrush
Gray Catbird
Black-throated Green Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Scarlet Tanager (69)

Here's some pictures to drool over:

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