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.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

When you see...

...Whooping Cranes (2!) flying over your yard, all things are possible.  Oh yeah!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Nighttime plover flyby, but which?

SEPL (would-be yard lifer) or AMGP (wouldn't be, due to crazy knockdown this April)?

Monday, September 23, 2013

a good day for gulls

hit a yardbird jackpot today at the Chase Place.  A run of small fish brought quite a few gulls and terns into Portage Bay including a juvy Sabine's Gull and a basic plumage adult Little Gull, Sabine's was new for the yard.  It was pretty blissful since it seems to open the door wide open on possibility.  I've been working on rehabbing this house for two years and I'm starting to believe it's worth it!

The HUGO is still around but it's drooping a wing -- not sure how it lost the ability to fly but definately put a damper on the day.  Those birds are so cool and they were meant to fly far away.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


This beauty was pal-ing around with a LBDO -- I saw it from the Chase Place then wolfed it over for a better look.  I see a godwit every spring and fall season -- I like it that way.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Just another shorebird. ....

Had 4 Baird's on the flats this evening behind the chase place.  That's the twenty-fourth species of shorebird for the yard and 150 overall.  Never mind I only have 8 warbler species for the yard.

Also id'ed my 2nd banded great egret this year - 18L on a green wing tag - probably a youngin' from southern Lake Huron. earlier this spring-summer I had a 4-year old from The Ontario side of Lake Huron.

Planted a blue beach today - need to work on that understory veg.

Peace out

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


What more do I need to say?!

 a juvy Buff-breasted Sandpiper with an entourage of golden plover, semi-p. plover, and pectoral sand.  What I lack in warblers I certain make up in shorebirds.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Sometimes when the cuckoo's crying
When the moon is halfway down
Sometimes when the night is dying
I take me out and I wander round
I wander round

That's pretty much how it happened early this morning when I let Karma out for a potty.

This incarnate was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, which was the second for the liar.  Still waiting for the Other One.

Friday, August 2, 2013

yardbird manna

Was doing a perimeter check in the Portage Marsh on July 30th - when I spied a jaeger standing offshore on a sandbar.  I dutifully turned and walked back to my yard "proper" (about a 20 minute round trip) before hoofing it out to Portage Point to try to ID (I'd rather have a jaeger sp. for the yard than a species specific jaeger -- even given the decent probability of a state bird in LTJA).

By the time I got to the point the jaeger was gone and while scanning I heard something calling behind me which when I turned around was about 10 feet over my head; a subadult Long-tailed Jaeger.  The bird made multiple dive bombs of Lilly (jaeger bait) and I calling consistently.  I felt Native Alaskan with my dog Stickeen (a John Muir reference).  It was surreal given the behavior, time of year, and the fact I was on the north shore of Lake Michigan and not the north slope of Alaska.  The bird greeted us the next morning and provided a morning and afternoon of pure bliss as it tooled around Portage Point and Bay and harassed everything under the sun.  At some point, while watching with Chris Vogel, he spotted another jaeger  offshore -- similar in all respects to a LTJA but a touch too far to confirm ID.  I was hoping for a breeding pair.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Two new heard only life yarders

This AM

And yesterday

Breathing some rarified air!

Broke through #190 barrier yesterday with a chorry chorry eminating from 2 yards down.  Yep,  Mourning Warbler was a new species for me despite what seems like an abundance of habitat.  The bird was still around this morning.

Picked up a Pee-wee at the Chase house - not singing, some I'm assuming it's an Eastern.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

cool NFC

Heard this live at 11:04PM just now, and recorded it.


First time ever!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Number 67 for the year, this morning:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

nice pickup for this time of year

NOT a species I see many places after waterfowl migration in Kent County! Not too sure what he's doing here away from a nice marsh but I'll take it...

PS- JOKA, don't even think about mentioning the H word

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Another expected one


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bee Bee BUzz? Bee Bee Bummer.

 I heard my first "winged-warbler" ever this morning in my neighbors cedars (swamp lair) but I just had a feeling it wasn't going to pan out as a whole number and it didn't.  Probably the only time someone is going to gripe seeing a Brewster's Warbler but it wasnt that much of a gripe...

Friday, May 10, 2013

At least I held out til mid-May before asking, but . . .

. . . I give up--where the hell is the 2013 spreadsheet?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Not the way I expected to get this one

Though my lack of listening effort explains it. Box is about 25 feet high, and was occupied within a week of its erection.

Life Yardie # 189

With a whinny I finally put Sora to bed.  It was 2010, I think, I heard a distant one in the Marsh and thought "I'll wait for a definative one that I can enjoy".  That moment never happened.  Last nights bird responded to a broadcast -- still distant in the marsh, but at least I got 2 whinnies, and two whinnies are better than one.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Life Yardbird 197

A long awaited waterbird finally flew through the yard today. A female Hooded Merg gave a brief appearance over the south field bringing my life yard list to 197!

Overall great movement of birds the last couple days. 

another one

Haven't added this yet, b/c i don't know what it is. But my guess is it's either going to be Virginia Rail (leaning heavily) or Common Tern. Thoughts?


Either way I get a yard lifer out of it. It was last night within 1 hour after dark.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

All about the mic, bitches

At dusk I was listening to the sky via my microphone when this happened at 2135 hrs:


and then within 1 minute later, this:


back to back yard lifers. The first of these two I didn't even record for Kent County in the entirety of 2012! Major yard score. CUDY has had one in his back yard for 2 days now too...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Pole position

Gosh, I havent been in the lead on this thing in, like, three years.

HUGEMUNGO movement of geese last evening -- outta 2-5K birds I finally pulled down a SNGO.  Other delights included Forster's Tern and Orange-crowned Warbler.  Definitely a Chase-man now.  I've only been to the swamp liar once this spring sans scope.  I am so laa-zy.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

More stormfront love

Boy my roof is fun during a late April rain. 3 of these are yard lifers.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Another storm, another bevy of yard lifers

After last night's epic monsoon conditions, I finally made a point to get atop my new roof for the first time since moving in in late February. Sillydigs did not let me down. First, an by far most importantly, as I was setting up my ladder, I looked up to see a large shorebird flock about .5 miles high. I quickly realized I was looking at Pluvialis. They had no dark in the axillaries. I ran inside for my DSLR, and they were still overhead when I got out. By the time I got the manual settings ready they were behind the neighbor's sycamore and I never saw them again. DAMN! Having only ever seen AMGP at 2 locations in the county, seeing a flock of 40-45 of them FROM MY YARD was mind blowing, and dare I say it, a bit epic?

I proceeded to the roof which produced additional epicocity in my extremely suburban setting. Next up was a large flock of BOGU. Then life yardbird BARS (including several possible CLSW and PUMA candidates up real high), then NOHA, and right as another heavy cylinder of rain hit, 2 COLO pumping NE to outrun the storm right on the front edge of the rain column. Oh the agony.

Takehome message of the day for yardbirders: right about the time the weather gets so shitty that you no longer want to stay outside, is exactly the time you need to watch the sky more carefully and STAY OUTSIDE! Downpours and low-flying waterbirds and shorebirds go together like Silly and Putty.


The Portage is filling up with dabblers -- expecting a "***mega***".  Meanwhile, I had "***FOY***" Greater Yellowlegs - though I could only "***h.o.***" the bird so I whipped out my 4" iPhone and started up my iBird Pro 6.1 -- I played calls of GRYE and after a spell I saw 2 birds - one a yellowlegs - fly over my house away from the the lake.  After 2 minutes - and sparse calling indicating it was nearby - the yellowlegs and "other" bird flew back over the house and buzzed down to the pond.  I'm not sure, but I think it may have landed on my roof (the back side is a big flat roof) when it was out of view.  The yellowlegs landed and his little buddy turns out was a Wilson's Phalarope.  I put my iPhriend in camera mode and digiscoped a couple of images before they flew off.  How "***EPIC***" is that?????

Friday, April 12, 2013

ugh..... worst spring ever

well, I counted them up. I'm at 22 species for the yard. My roomie has had also had a Great Horned Owl which has so far eluded me. The only new species I've had in a month(!) was a robin that showed up a couple of days ago.

Yep.... that be all the news from lake wobbegone

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

duck, duck, goose

the chase place is filling up with ducks.  yesterday i had a flock of 1200 ltdu along with as smathering of all the regular dabblers.  its so much easier than the swamp liar.  50 for the year.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A flurry of migrants

Radar looked really good last night, and indeed many birds reached GR by daybreak. EAPH and FOSP were new today (as was my first confirmed HAWO sighting for my grassy, urban yard, a pair), with BRCR and GCKI being present yesterday as well.

The RSHA was surprisingly not a flyby migrant, but came out of the woodlot to my SE and fly at eye level through the yard, presumably a resting migrant looking for hunting/resting space. Finally, the TUSW was a nocturnal migrant (thanks mic!)

1Hairy Woodpecker1 SillyDigsUS-MI08 Apr 2013
2Eastern Phoebe1SillyDigsUS-MI08 Apr 2013
3Fox Sparrow1 SillyDigsUS-MI08 Apr 2013
4Brown Creeper1 SillyDigsUS-MI07 Apr 2013
5Golden-crowned Kinglet1 SillyDigsUS-MI07 Apr 2013
6Red-shouldered Hawk1 SillyDigsUS-MI05 Apr 2013
7Tundra Swan1 SillyDigsUS-MI03 Apr 2013

Earth to UPers- where are you guys???

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pretty Boys

A couple of pretty boys have been coming to the feeding stations lately with their harem. They strut their stuff while their 22 lady friends ignore them.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sandhill Dreams

Yesterday, after a long, fun day of birding in Ottawa Co., I came home and got some things done around the house. I then went to the south field, laid down in the grass and fell asleep out of the cold wind in the sun. I was awakened by trumpeting Sandhills flying over. A group of six, then two and then a single bird. The single I believe was thinking about landing in the field as it circled down to about 100 ft, but must have seen me and sailed off. Pretty cool.

Friday, March 15, 2013


Well, my first total surprise bird (other than RECR) has appeared at the house! Upon walking outside in the drizzle at dusk I was shocked to immediately hear the high pitched wing-twittering of a WOODCOCK directly overhead. Main reason this is shocking is not the date, but the location and habitat- nearly 2 miles from anything resembling habitat for this species.

I had figured it might take me years of waiting to score this species here. Also my mic is currently broken and not functioning, so I had no chance of hearing it short of walking outside the house. Pretty cool.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Owl Ranch

Howdy all,

I'm in! Got a new yard, got a new year, got some great habitat- now if only the birds would find my feeders.....

I'm at a modest 22 birds for the year, nothing too crazy. A Hoary Redpoll dropped in for a couple of days, and I've had both species of Crossbills flyover. A small flock of Bohemian Waxwings were around a few weeks ago. I'm in a much more wooded place with lots of oaks, so Red-bellied Woodpecker is a near daily bird for me as opposed to being a rare treat. I'm right on the northwest edge of town with the Dead River just a few blocks over so another near daily bird for me is Common Raven (my old place would only see a few of these a year). Truthfully my feeders have been slow. I'm concerned that the much more wooded habitat of my new place may not be as attractive to migrants as my old yard was, but I am looking forward to having more breeders in the yard. I am certainly thinking there should be a Pine Warbler nesting in the yard, and daresay I am dreaming of a summer resident Blackburian Warbler. But I don't think I'm getting a Grasshopper Sparrow at this new place! I will just have to settle for that Band-tailed Pigeon that will eventually come into the feeder one day......

So the yard is .75 acres, and is surrounded by a small woodlot on two sides comprised of birch, maple, and white pine. The yard itself has several apple trees with a couple of wide areas of lawn (read my soon to be prairie garden...). I have a lot of white pines, 4 of which are huge and likely at least 150 years old. There will be a water feature sometime later this spring.

But for now enjoy a few pictures!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Bohemians linger on

My mic has now blessed me with 3 separate BOWA flybys since I moved in, and today I was surprised to again be greeted by this noise:


This time, as you can hear, there were CEDW mixed in as well (life yardbird), and better yet: the calls seemed not to be flyovers- they seemed to be sitting still. Grabbed the camera and ran out to the back yard, and located the flock in the neighbors tree several hundred feet away, and got this shot of the 2nd half of the flock leaving:

Can't be much longer before these guys leave and head north. Our fruiting trees are virtually devoid of berries, and have been for weeks. Apparently (though I don't know where) they are still finding food somewhere.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Always A Peak Experience

Managed some nice tics just before sunset this evening from the rooftop. There is always something special that happens when I get up there. It's usually waterfowl and tonight was no exception. 17 Tundra Swan cruised 20 feet overhead calling back and forth. They were heading from the river bayous to the big lake. This species was a big miss for the yard last year. Three Com. Goldeneye and four Com. Merg topped that off. They were heading in the same direction although further north seen through the scope.

Consumers Energy comes tomorrow to dictate more rape and pillage of my property. Last year they took out a huge swath of forest habitat. Wish me luck.

Which yard lifer is it?

Gonna need some help on this one, boys. After scoring another flyover BOWA by microphone today (https://soundcloud.com/user9140545/bowa-kentwood-4-march-2013)

I subsequently had another finch flyover which I immediately thought was most likely CORE. I then waffled (on SETI's advice) about WWCR, but now am confused. Please listen and advise:


Here is the sonogram of the loudest of these calls. Note the peak at 7 kHZ and the pattern of the call, and compare with sonograms for both CORE and WWCR here:


Thoughts? (either way it's a life yard bird)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Crossbill wishes coming true

And not just my 1 of 2 most-desired county wishes (the other being EVGR), but also a yard tick:


Unfortunately no pics or recordings to show for it. Hoping it comes back to the feeder so I can imitate SWKA.


True enough - this time I am NIMBY (not in my backyard), but obviously not by choice.

This LEOW perched in my neighbors cedar hedge compliments of Glenn VandeWater and his chickadees.  A fabulous UP winter bird, and a MEGA yardie, albeit bit of a waste.

Year of the Crossbill

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

RECR = 111

Red Crossbill was year #21 a few days ago and #111 for the yard.  A flyover RTHA was #24 for the year.  Sorry it took me two months to post but...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

So, I don't even have Internet access at the new Silly Digs, but via my smartphone. Nevertheless I am so filled with joy about my newfound independence and location that I found a way to get this inaugural checklist up.


It is indeed meager, but with the mic running tomorrow (and presumably the BCCH will a actually notice my sunflower seeds hanging in the backyard rather than ignore them), my chances of feeder of flyby RECR and EVGR (kent ticks) will increase markedly. In any event consider me back in the game boys!  


Well it's the time of year I start to get antsy and start visioning ways to extend my reach a little farther;






This year I'm going to focus on the water feature -- I've tried a bunch of stuff - but really haven't hit the groove.

I'm thinking about incorporating a drip-through system filled via a rain-barrel and circulating pump -  basically an amped up version of a pool system designed by the late Dave Tiller in the western UP and one that is wildly successful of bringing birds out of the woods (I lack both woods and warblers):

If I can convince Chris that a really good water feature outside is more important that running water inside then I might go all out and do something along these lines......THE VIDEO FROM 1:29 ONWARD WILL BLOW YOU AWAY.....enjoy

This one is pretty good too.

O.k. back to more important matters....like watching for the ice-breaker that's steaming up Green Bay  this weekend towards Escanaba help Mother Nature get the waterbirds on -- already noticing Herring Gulls arriving en masse this afternoon.  Spring On!

I'll start with a new life yard bird.....

OK. So I can't stay out for some reason - call it compulsion, obsession, addiction or just plain competition. Regardless, this is actually fun if I don't take it too seriously. Looks like we may be fewer this year which should be easier for everyone involved.

Although I haven't had the X-bills you all have I did manage 2 Hoary Redpolls an hour before leaving for Florida back on Feb 10th. They were tucked into a flock of 100 Commons visiting my feeding stations. Details here:


The only one I got photos of:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I want to play too!

No this is not from the new digs. That will begin within about 3-4 days from now, and if I get in on the Xbill party there, I am seriously hoping it will be the other species (still a much desired Kent tick)...

And is this an immature (=2nd calendar year) male then?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

X Bill

I willed this one.  Phyllis Carlson posted a question to the UP list-serve last week about what kind of seed crossbills eat at their feeders.  The response included the spectrum of what I offer with the exception of safflower.  I've never fed with safflower but said what the heck give it a try.  The RECR and WWCR at the Chase Place have been feeding on spilled sunflower.  I figured I'd give safflower a try in hopes of putting RECR to bed at the Swamp Lair and BINGO it worked.  I bought a bag yesterday and added it to the offering this morning.  This afternoon I had a pair of RECRs eating it up.  Life Yardbird #188.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Double crossed

Better than pizza - 2/13/13
Was plumbing the new olmsted yesterday and notice a flock of birds on the ground mixed in with redpolls - at first I thought they were Maui Parrotbills (based on structure) but closer inspection reveled they were Red Crossbills - a yard second.   Still need it for the Swamp Lair.

At the end of the day I went to fill feeders and under the feeder was a single white-winged Crossbill, a new yardie and a sweet little pulse of Feburary birding goodness.  #130 for the Chase Place.

As last year, I'm birding both yards which means my totals will be half ass.  Should be in the house full time by years end.  It's been a long time in rehab.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

And then there were 2

I will be moving into some new digs around Feb 20, and yes I am in boy! In the meantime, I will not be attempting to compete from my current (mega 2012) yard. So there are my totals: 0 until at least Feb 20.

Something tells me it's gonna be Kat and Puthouse duking it out in 2013 (with JOKA the obvious winner), but maybe someone else will prove me wrong.

Game on boy!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Hanging with the HOREs

By size I'd say hornemanni but it appears smaller at the feeding tray (see below) 

Up to a 1/2 six pack of these noble birds.  They came in two days ago on the heals of a big snow with siskins, some CORE, and a WWCR.

....and one more just to stir up some controversy.  If you have to have a marked undertail covert it shouldn't stand out.