Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Best of 2010

It is about the time of year where I start putting my Top Ten Birds and Experiences together.
Almost Finished.
Happy Birding and hope to see you on the trails.

Bob Setzer and Ed Lewandowski at Drayton Plains Nature Center

Top Ten Birds
1. 9 May- Horseshoe Lake Conservation Area (Illinois) Blue Grosbeak- This HAS to be #1! I have tried at Oak Openings more than a few times now with good people and no luck. Why #1? When I first started birding I was bonkers about seeing a Scarlet Tanager. Father-in-law/bird veteran/closest competitor couldn't help but tease me about NOT seeing one yet. He even would go so far to carry out pranks with the help of other family members. Well with this Blue Grosbeak being added without him around, I now have some prank leverage a'comin'. Maybe... it will be a state first for me by then...

2. 14 Aug- Point Mouilee SGA Hudsonian Godwit- Ok, this bird was flat out cool to the point of almost being mythical. Oooh! A Hudsonian Godwit Ahhhh! Really!? I felt as though this would be one of those birds I had to go to Cape May at peak time for. I just had to make the Moo a must to do, said the Cat in the Hat.

3. 2 Sep- Point Mouilee SGA Buff-Breasted Sandpiper- This one came with style points. We began meandering around Cell 3 for another look at the grandiose number of shorebirds strung along the mudflats. We biked passed a group of Sanderlings on the dike heading to our new spot and I thought hey, "Cool Sanderlings!"... Kept going. Had nice looks at shorebirds yada, yada,... back out to find the King Rail. As we bike by our seemingly familiar group of Sanderlings, I felt that something about these guys was different! I had to look again. Craig (bird sidekick) must've thought I was just doing an "Ed thing", and kept going, when low and behold... A Lifer baby (ok seven of them)! You still have much to learn Grasshopper.
I landed another one just like it a day or so later at Metrobeach.

4. 8 May- Prairie Ridge Natural Area Loggerhead Shrike- Not much doing in the middle of Farmfield-Nowhere Illinois, but something enough to catch my eye was a Shrike and Loggerhead kind too. A lifer while driving by?! My kind of sighting.

5. 9 Feb Tri-City Landfill (Sanilac County) Glaucous Gull- With the 2nd only known sighting of a Glaucous-Winged Gull in Michigan and a Glaucous Gull being a lifer (still hard to believe I just typed that), I couldn't pass up the opportunity to give it shot. Why not, considering I was being moved out of a job placement for the third time in a year. Damn it I deserve a lifer! I got just that at what better place than a landfill in the middle of Sanilac County on a cold rainy day in February. No job, a borrowed scope, drive thru cup of Joe, and with about 30 more Glaucous lifers to spare, I found Peace.
How on Earth did I not have this gull by now? Little Gull and Iceland Gull in Michigan before I get a Glaucous just seems crazy but it's true.

6. 2 Jun- Wetzel SP Sedge Wren- Started to wonder if I was doing something wrong here. I realized that I kind of was. I need to spend more time near sedge no matter where it was and listen patiently. I saw a Wetzel posting for one and wanted to go there anyway so it worked out great. I found where the sedge was and a very inquisitive group of Sedge Wrens.

7. 8 May- Cache River Natural Area Chuck-Will's-Widow- Top 10 by default. Great bird for me but wanted a better look. I was driving on what turned out to be my 42nd or so straight awake hour of birding (not intentional, see Top Ten Experiences) and heading hopefully for a place to sleep. Out pops a "new" bird into the headlights. With a little nudge to keep an eye out by the Illinois bird bible, we landed us a flyby goatsucker. Now say that ten times fast.

8. 7 Aug- Farmer Gough's Residence Red-Shouldered Hawk- With an RS Hawk being a state first, I really wanted to get one but never seemed to be patient enough at Hawk Watch or even go at the right time to see one. Craig kept telling me stories about his noisy local hawk that I should try and see sometime. Years and many maddening stories later, I took him up on the idea! I can close the book on this nemesis bird.

9. 17 Sep- Port Austin Islands Willet- The annual family Thumb trip. I did what any fanatic birder would do: Unpack the scope first. The first noticeable bird off the balcony before emptying out the ridiculous amount of luggage that comes with a family of four just so happened to be state-lifer-Willet. Well that's cool; let me show everyone in the family who don't care!

10. 30 Jun- Schneider Road Pond American Avocet- I still can't believe I ever heard someone utter the words "garbage bird" for this one. If it is such a "garbage bird" why does it get posted whenever someone sees one? And why would Don "the man" Chalfant state that it is only the 2nd known posting of its kind in all of the great Washtenaw County? A pretty darn good county for shorebird I might add. Let me not leave out that I played hooky from class on this bird. Shhhh! I got an A. Calm down!!!

Top Ten Experiences (Still to come)

1. Aug 14 Pt. Moo Part I- We put the band back together (Tom Shehan, Bill Loomis, Bob Hart, and Craig Gough) and FINALLY got out for a bird trip. Our first full trip as a group this year and we opted to test our skills at shorebirds. It was a combination trip with Washtenaw and Detroit Audubon groups. It was great to meet, reconnect, and discover birding with other people on a bigger level. I have been on Audubon trips before of course but this trip made me realize just how much that I love birding with other people that love to bird. In a very trying year with job fluctuations, adjustments, and frustration, this gathering of phenomenal people put things back in balance for me. I must get more involved with Audubon and finally get the courage to lead some groups and give back a bit. Special thanks to Jim Bull, Jim Fowler, and Dea Armstrong for giving me the confidence I need going forward. I didn't even the mention birds. Interesting...

2. May 8 & 9 Illinois Trip- Bitter sweet is the best way to describe it. Originally I was asked by Ray Stocking to team up and help with a Pelee trip. Thanks for that Ray, I certainly want to do more and appreciate you thinking of me. I already had a big trip planned for S. Illinois targeting specific birds like Greater Prairie Chicken, Purple Gallinule, and Mississippi Kite. The idea was to leave Friday night, drive our butts off and start the day at Horseshoe in the s. end of Illinois. The grand idea was to stop at points in a northerly direction to shorten the trip home.
That DID NOT HAPPEN! We blew a tire in Gary IN, around 1 in the morning. Instead of completely losing our cool (Craig and I) we got the doughnut put on (35mph winds) and plotted a trip in a southerly direction. We unexpectedly stopped at Middle Fork State Natural Area and grabbed some good birds rather quickly in (again) horrific 30+ mph winds. We found refuge and rattled off ~13 warblers including a Golden-Winged, and a nice group of Lark Sparrows.
We finally made it to Prairie Chicken land with no Chickens (thanks to the wind and oh yes a blown tire). The idea was to start birding here on the way home the following morning (no winds and clear skies on that day of course). Consolation: Loggerhead Shrike (lifer) and Bobwhites. We continue to pick up birds despite conditions and tire replacement. We stop at a few spots absolutely exhausted (42 hours straight) with 1 lifer to show for it and luckily stumbled on to Horseshoe. I crashed at 1am while Craig put up the tent. The next morning (5 am) we woke up to a 60 bird count without even trying and the most gorgeous cypress swamp sunrise. I can't explain how beautiful this place is. You would never guess that you were in Illinois! To wake up to birds on that view is a life memory. With my spirits lifted while clinging to a depressing 2-bird lifer trip we headed home with one last hope for redemption and we hit what turned out to be liferville for Craig. I unexpectedly found Blue Grosbeaks, a 5-year nemesis, bird while driving and whipped around for a certain ID. It took getting back to Indiana to actually believe that we saw them.
With perfect weather on the morning of our return, we found more birds eating breakfast at the tent than the entire first day.
Time was up though. Had to go home. I have some unfinished business with this place. I will return!
One of the most peculiar things about this trip though is that Craig and I never ran into any birders the entire trip.

3. 14 Sep Owls with the girls at Craig's- Anytime your 8 month child starts to mimic an owl call with you during your own built-in owl prowl... it is a moment to remember. County lifer with the Screech Owl that landed within feet from us.

4. 2 Sep Pt. Moo Part II- I worked in some time so to speak for this trip. I really haven't had many opportunities to bird this year to be honest so you sometimes have to do what you have to do to keep your sanity. I wanted to venture back to the Moo being not satisfied with all of these state firsts and a few potential lifers slipping away while idly sitting back and festering over it. Poker player Phil Helmuth said, "Luck favors the bold". So Craig and I put things aside for that morning and really pulled great numbers with the second run. This decision to try again also gave me my best year for shorebirds.
I have to get a new scope though. I have the oldest/cheapest junker out there. I consider myself a pretty good birder but a hell of alot better one when I can actually SEE details of a bird.
I led us to the wrong spot for the King Rail as it turns out when I ran into Thomas Schlack the next day. A third trip back? Well... that was pushing it! Another great bird for another day.

5. Enter the Setzers- My new bird buddies for life! After chatting over email for a bit we finally made a mostly birdless winter run around what I call the Telegraph loop. I pointed out a few things along the way. It made for a fun afternoon over coffee. It was made better when we reconnected for some good birds at Wetzel many months later. Thank you Bob and Judy for becoming an enjoyable piece of the birdier side of life. Look forward to many more adventures with you!

6. 25 Sep It's a Detroit Thang!- Having to contribute rare time with my girls on Saturday to work purposes does not set well with me. The bright side of things came when our group was heading to Heidelberg Project in Detroit. Being just minutes away, Belle Isle was screaming my name here! I called up Bob Hart, ol' bird buddy, guru of the arts and Detroit doings. We put in a little time at Belle Isle before and after the tour. Things were moving for us each time, particularly in the afternoon when the weather cleared up. There were plenty of warblers species and quite a few county firsts.
We went to the Heidelberg project to meet my group; a very moving experience. Anyone with a soul, human compassion, or love of art would enjoy this place. Make time for a tour it is well worth the effort.
Bob and I haven't birded together much so we had to make it count. He pointed us in the direction of the Clique Restaurant (nope not our usual Wendy's) and I had one of the best breakfasts I have had in a long time. Clique is certainly a Detroit classic. My 2nd recommendation.
We walked off the meal from there with a river stroll at William Milliken State Harbor to land more birds. Marsh Wrens were singing up a storm and Palm Warblers came by the bushel. This recently added park will be a nice spot for observing waterfowl in the winter and many other possibilities as it develops.
Lesson of this story folks... Go to Detroit! I can't wait for my next visit. You heard it hear.
I went over the century mark for Belle Isle birds on this trip as and added bonus to the outing.

7. 3 Sep Metrobeach- As the unexpected front runner for the bird year trophy, I wanted to put away the possibility of a Tom Shehan come back with this trip. It did, I cleaned up on warblers, thrushes, and a few more shorebirds to boot.
I missed a lot of birds in Michigan this spring during the migration, but this outing put me above 200 state birds again for the year. I also went over the century mark for birds at Metrobeach. Not too shabby.

8. 1 May Lakeport Birthday Gift- With only one real bird trip to show for the year thus far (May), any birding would help. On a weekend retreat with friends, I was witness to the wonderful Southwesterly winds of Lakeport that bring hawks, and oh man the Blue Jays! I have seen Jay migrations before but this took the cake! Literally thousands just kept showering by for what seemed two days straight. Remarkable! To that reason I decided to take the girls in the baby jogger for a light walk. I came back with a present to myself; my 6th county over 100 birds. Happy Birthday to me!

9. 13 Feb LEMP with perspective- My first outing of the year, a cousin of ours wanted to see an Eagle. So Tom and I felt it was our responsibility as the knowledgeable bird folk of the family to enlighten the little guy. He saw a fair bit more than the one Eagle that day. He was all over my scope, trudging through snow like a champ, asking off the wall questions, binoculars here, binoculars there, pointing things out, shuffling the field guide, and being one of the guys. And then... "Hey, Ed, what kind of bird eats the most?" Well I guess I didn't see that one coming.
Fun day in the end.
Be more prepared for questions next time Mr. Tour Guide!

10. 10 Oct Sunset at Haenle- Seeing the cranes come in at night surpassed any previous experience there. Birders, bird watchers, and average Joe's came from all around to see this phenomena. It was no disappointment. The Whooping Crane being reported came in with a pair of Sandhill buddies just after 6pm keeping the crowd in good spirits. I have seen a Whooper before but this time it was just a moment of pure peace. The rest of the world just seemed to fade away to a single event. Birding is so great!

Other Stuff...
Adding Counties- This year I added St. Clair, Livingston, and Lapeer County to my group of counties over the 100 mark. Macomb, Wayne, and Washtenaw each above 150.
I would like to add every county in SE Michigan to the list of over 100.
Next year I am hoping to add Genesee County as the last county I need bordering Oakland with 100 birds.

Park milestones- I never really thought much about this much before, but keeping track of park lists is an interesting way to look at your area compared to others. It adds a fresh perspective to your well traveled local parks.
I now have Belle Isle, LEMP, and Metrobeach joining Pt. Moo for parks over 100. I am a mere two birds shy of the mark for Bald Mountain SRA. I would be joining Allen Chartier as the only two known birders to achieve that feat. Kind of cool.

What's next? I intend to do an all Michigan year in 2011. Each year I plan a big trip or two to the hot spots of Ohio, Ontario, and Illinois to a lesser extent. It is time to add a few more lifers and state birds to my list. I have been almost everywhere in the state at some point in my life, but I want to go back and record a bird in every county. The list is getting smaller, I am already looking forward to the new year.
In addition to sticking around, I want to find time to lead a group or two. I think it is time to get more involved when possible. I intend to join the Detroit Audubon and do what I enjoy most. Bird with people that love to bird.

New places- Each year I pride myself on trying a new state, county, park, or even a trail I overlooked. This year being no different, I found that of ~20 new places I visited I was most pleased with Novi Wetlands. A spot that offers good views of marsh that is tough to come by in Oakland Co.
Quanicassee SWA- was another reminder to keep going north. I have birded parts south of me quite a bit so far.
William Milliken SP and Harbor- Been wanting to find another vantage point of the river other than Belle Isle. Couldn't be happier with this location.

New people- It is hard to remember the names of all the birders I come across while on the trail, chatting on birders@umich or eBird, but I am truly grateful to be part of such a wonderful network of people.
Good luck next year!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Birding in 2010

This has been a very busy year for me with a new member added to the family and bigger work commitments.

Nevertheless, I have kept things going with local birding and added in a trip to Illinois in May for some of the southern birds. 30+ mph winds and a flat tire on Day 1 didn't help but we were still able to go over the 100 mark.
Added some nice additions to the life list with Blue Grosbeak (nemesis bird), Chuck-Will's-Widow, and Loggerhead Shrike. All possible in Michigan of course but just a bit easier down there!
This year I have been working on adding county lifers to Wayne, Washtenaw, Livingston, St. Clair, Oakland, and Macomb here and there.

With little time for hobbies I haven't been updating the county lists as I would like to but will be more diligent in the fall.

Best wishes to all.
Ed Lewandowski

Friday, March 5, 2010

Genesee County 2010 Sightings

2 Oct 10
Richfield Twp. Park, Holloway Reservoir
Despite the morning rain, I wanted to make the best of it by birding different areas and scouting places new to me. Went for a nice hike along the Flint River kicking up a bird or two here and there.
The rain cleared up by the time I reached Holloway and the birding picked up too.
There were a few species of ducks I wasn't expecting.
2 Horned Grebes, 5 Ruddy Ducks, and a few fly away species.
Large numbers of gulls were by the dam with ~10:1 ratio of Ring Billed Gulls over Herring.
Other notable species on the day...
Swainson's Thrush
Hermit Thrush
RB Nuthatch
Yellow Rumped Warblers

Spent a brief time on the Lapeer Co. side adding a couple of warblers Tennessee and Blackpoll.
I found the area to be full of potential. I would have to recommend that if Chartier and Ziarno ever add to the Michigan Bird Guide that this area be added to it.

12 Jul 10
SW Genesee County Roads
Went looking for the Dickcissels that were reported on Nichols and the Prothonotary Warbler on Lovejoy Rd. Struck out on both, overlooked the habitat and may have missed them on a dumb error, but may try again soon. Bird of the trip was a nice look at a Kestrel.

21 Feb 10
For Mar Nature Center, Mott Lake
Imm. Bald Eagle flying over the nature center at For Mar.
Mott Lake bridge on Genesee Rd. had open water host to ~90 C. Goldenyes, 30 C. Mergansers.
I think I found Mom and Dad Eagles also at the Mott Lake Boat Launch, along with more open water and duck activity.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wayne County 2010 Sightings

12 Feb & 15 Feb
Crosswinds Marsh, Pt. Moo HQ, LEMP, Grace Lake, French Landing
Took an interested cousin out to find his first Eagle and stopped in to see the nest at Crosswinds first.
Snow Bunting flyover was a decent trade off.

Point Moo HQ was great and the Wayne Co. roadside park was open which is unusual for winter.
American Pipit was a yes.
Good sparrows at the fence line including: Song Sp., Fox Sp., Swamp Sp., Tree Sp., RW Blackbirds
Harrier flew over Point Moo
~6 Eagles there and ~10 more at LEMP
LEMP has been reporting good birds like RS Hawk, RL Hawk, Merlin, and Goshawk. I was hoping for at least one of them and found the Goshawk. Lower Peninsula first for me.
The usual high quantity of ducks and swans were found.
My little cousin was quoted as saying, "This is one of the best days of my life."
Might have a repeat customer!

Grace Lake and French Landing (15 Feb) didn't produce as I hoped. Mostly Herring Gulls, no rarities were found except for one Gr. Black Backed Gull at French Landing.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Macomb County 2010 Sightings

2 Apr 10
Wetzel State Park, Canal Park
Wetzel was the place for ducks! The southern most ponds from the main entrance held Shovelers, both Teals, Wigeon, and Ruddy Duck.
7-8 Rusty Blackbirds.
Canal Park had ~25 Herons on the rookery
1 Carolina Wren

13 Mar 10
Stony Creek Metropark
Waterfowl variety and species counts have significantly picked up.
The bridge area n. of 28 mile is almost completely open.

17 Feb 10

Mt. Vernon Ct. downriver from Stony Creek
American Coot
View from the bridge gave a good luck with a group of Mallards.

6 Feb 10
Sunshine Point, Metrobeach Metropark
Sunshine Point:
Ruddy Ducks
C. Mergansers
Gr. Scaup
Both sides of the point have open water with higher quantity on the s. side but the glare made ID's and counts tough.

Cowbirds ~75
RW Blackbirds 2

Friday, February 5, 2010

Lapeer County 2010 Sightings

7 Jul 10
Lapeer SGA (Barnes Lake Road) and other areas
A nice stroll in the fields produced ample amounts of Vesper and Grasshopper Sparrows, and a Brown Thrasher at the south end. Kestrel was found on the hunt as well.
Sedge Wren found at Millis and Norway Lk Rd, about 100 yds before the do not pass sign a few were singing of course in the nice Sedge grasses for them. Landed bird #100 on the trip, marking it as my 8th county in Michigan with at least 100 or more.

6 Jul 10
Ortonville SGA
Discovered ample amounts of Scarlet Tanagers along Fox Lake Road. Not able to locate Cerulean or Acadian Flycatcher on this short trip. Other birds worth mentioning were Veery, Yellow-Throated Vireo, American Redstarts, and Ovenbird.

5 Jul 10
Water Tower Park
A quick walk through this small park yielded a few good birds. Best looks at an Osprey persistently hunting down fish while being persistently pursued by less than happy Kingbirds. Great show! Green Herons and a Cormorant were also present.

20 Jan 10

Seven Ponds Nature Center, Lapeer Co. Roads
Seven Ponds: Purple Finches
Lapeer Rds.: 2 Pheasant at Farley & Hollow Corners.
Plenty of Turkey on Hollow Corners.
More Red-Tailed Hawks than I can remember.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Oakland County 2010 Sightings

15 Oct 10
Civic Center Park & Oakland Tech Park Trails
After a nice birding lunch filled with raining Juncos yesterday, Civic Center was very quiet this morning. Just a few hundred yards down the road though, the Tech Park was hopping. Once I entered the field area by the river, it was a completely different.
Note worthy...
Winter Wren
Hermit Thrush
Fox Sparrows (first appearance of the fall migration)
White Crowned Sparrow

6 Oct 10
Bald Mountain SRA (N. Unit)
Eastern Screech Owl
Had some time to kill while trying to put the little one to sleep so I started my own owl prowl. After two attempts on Kern Rd., I was successful on Greenshield on the pullout past the park office. This stuff never gets old for me!

11 Apr 10
Home, Civic Center Park
Had evidence of hawk migration at my house today. Cooper's and SS Hawks were circling overhead ~12 witnessed periodically during the day.
CC Park in Auburn Hills had 3 Brown Creepers, Hermit Thrush, and a Phoebe today. Things are staring to move.

8 Apr 10
Field Sparrow landed by the feeders today. Only the second observation of this species in our yard. There isn't a field worthy of this bird within 2-3 miles.

1 Apr 10
Kirk in the Hills
Island Lake is still loaded with ducks by over a thousand in

Egret count was up to 48
Cormorant count was around 36
Great Blues out numbered at 4

Tree Swallows have finally made there way to northern parts of the county.
Craig Gough informed me that there are some checking out his boxes on his
pond up in Lapeer County the earliest he remembers there.

Found 3 Northern Shovelers dabbling close to the shore at the church
~8 Am. Wigeons
Plenty of what you expect otherwise: Canvasbacks, Redheads, Ring-Necks, L.
Very few Buffleheads and Goldeneyes left.
No Greater Scaups amongst the group, all blue heads out there as far as I
could tell.

Haven't seen any other large duck concentrations of that magnitude since the
thaw in the area.
Wonder what the big draw is for this location. The ducks there have been
around a while. Food must be part of it.

31 Mar 10
Carpenter Lake Nature Preserve
Relocated the Carolina Wren originally found by James Fox at the SE end of the park. Singing away!

22 Mar 10
Beaudette Park
Found a large flock of Grackles, Blackbirds, Cowbirds, and Starlings by the boat launch and among them was a female Brewer's Blackbird. A county lifer for me.
Good bird and very unexpected.

18 Mar 10
Orion Oaks
Lapland Longspur (1) between trail mark 2 & 3, closer to #3. Very cooperative bird.

6 Mar 10
Detroit Zoo and Home
Killdeer heard at the Camel exhibit
Turkey Vulture seen at the Palace and 4 seen at the zoo.
RWBB's came to my feeders this morning
Grackle singing to me as we got home.
Spring is on the way.

5 Mar 10
Telegraph Loop
Met up with Bob and Judy Setzer to point out some spots along the Telegraph Loop.
Kirk in the Hills Church didn't have the nesting Herons yet. Linda Kasenow did however report GB Herons nesting at Kensington today to match my report listed below, so I would imagine that they will be very soon.
Most locations I pointed out along the loop were still frozen over but we did have success with Redheads again at Loon Lake perimeter points.
~20 Redheads, 2 Hooded Mergansers at Farner & Dixie.
2 more Redheads at the N. end of the lake.
Didn't make to Dawson's Mill Dam (Beaudette) or Fish Hatchery today.
Best weather so far this year! Very fun trip with some truly wonderful people.

4 Mar 10
Chrysler Tech Center (Squirrel Rd.)
Great Blue Herons beginning to nest in the rookery area by the testing track seen from the road.

3 Mar 10
Loon Lake Perimeter, Fish Hatchery Park, Dutton Fields
Redheads (2), Hooded Merganser (1), Wood Duck (1) found at the N. end of Loon Lake.
C. Goldeneye (1) Bufflehead (1) found at Fish Hatchery, also relocated the GW Teal pair in their same spot across the road at Drayton Plains N.C.
Not able to relocate Snow Buntings, Longspur flock at Dutton Fields, small pocket of Horned Larks present.

18 Feb 10

Dutton Fields, Beaudette Park
My little dirt patch is starting to bring in some birders. Janice Olesen posted that Longspurs have joined my dwindled group of Snow Buntings. What was ~60 is now 20. I suspected Longspurs among em' and here they are! Thanks Janice, good birding. Great looks can be found e. of Culvers just before the Marriott. They are on the e. side of the drive camping out on a strip of straw. Great looks and a county lifer (#172) for me just a couple of miles from my house!

Beaudette has slowed down with the thaw. Ample open water, Buffleheads have joined the bunch but again absent were Scaup, RN ducks, no Canvasback this time either, and the black billed swans were not present.

17 Feb 10
Snell Road Farm
Wild Turkeys just past county line

12 Feb 10
Wixom Rd. Exit
Horned Larks flying in as I drove down 96.

5 Feb 10
Drayton Plains Nature Center, Fish Hatchery Park, Loon Lake (2 locations)
Fish Hatchery Park: 1 Common Goldeneye, 3 Black Ducks Plenty of open water with surprisingly low number of duck species.
Drayton Plains N.C.: 2 Green-Winged Teals. I would suggest parking at Fish Hatchery Park and walk across Hatchery Road to the sidewalk on the Drayton Plains N.C. side to view the ducks. Walking from DPNC would give you a 15 minute walk to the small pond and will likely scatter the ducks. They were still present when I left them.
Loon Lake (Farner Av & Dixie Hwy): 7 Canvasbacks
Loon Lake (Schoolhouse Dr.): 2 Gadwall
Just w. of Clintonville Rd. there is open water running from Loon Lake to Schoolhouse Lake, and Lake Oakland. No real good spots to observe the ducks expect from the subdivision bridge. The neighbors gave me an odd luck too so roll down your window and tell em' you are looking at the ducks!

2 Feb 10
Dawson's Mill Pond (Beaudette Park)
38 Hooded Merganser * a park record for me
3 Trumpeter Swans * park record
Did not find RN Ducks or Wood Ducks on this trip.

22 Jan 10
Dawson's Mill Pond (Beaudette Park)
Belted Kingfisher

21 Jan 10
Orion Oaks (bark park)
Golden-Crowned Kinglets pair at the first row of large trees walking s. inside the A gate area.

19 Jan 10
Novi Wetlands, Robert Long Park
Northern Shrike at Novi Wetlands
Northern Pintail at Rob. Long Pk.

15 Jan 10
Dawson's Mill Pond (Beaudette Park)

American Black Duck 17
Mallard ~300
Canvasback 5
Redhead 4
Ring-necked Duck 4
Common Goldeneye 1 female
Hooded Merganser 25

Species diversity picked up with this trip. Wood Ducks were not found this time at their usual s. end location.
Still seems to be low overall quantity. Found open water on the W. end of Otter Lake that could be taken some numbers from Beaudette.

2 Jan
Dutton Rd. Fields/Landfill Area
~60 Snow Buntings
3 Turkey Vultures on 3 Jan
Notes: Same group I posted on December 13th. Haven't good enough looks to pick out if there is a Longspur with them.

6 Jan
Beaudette Park, Cass Lake
Dawson's Mill Pond (Beaudette Park)
18 Am. Black Ducks
14 Hooded Mergansers
3 Wood Ducks
1 Coot
1 Great Blue Heron

Numbers of variety were down leading me to believe there is still open water out there.
So... I went alookin' for it.
Square Lake- small patch of open water on the s. side (Ward Rd.)
No Ducks
Cass Lake- open water on the w. side, best views likely from Dodge St. Pk. 4
Bald Eagle flew across the lake.
Crystal Lake- no open water except by the dam.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Berrien Co. Sightings

25 Nov 09
Tiscornia Park, St. Joseph, MI
Van Buren Co., Hartford, MI
Red-Throated Loons
Horned Grebes
**Little Gull (lifer)

Rufous Hummingbird (outskirts of Hartford)

Winds were high on the day we went to Tiscornia Park at St. Joseph, MI Winds 15 mph+ out of the SW did not make for conducive conditions on the pier.
Found the Little Gull right off the bat but the Ancient Murrelet was not seen the day we tried nor has it been relocated since.
The Rufous was a good find while being patient. Allen's Chartier statement about this bird would not be able to be identified from the field rang true. It looks like a simple green female Ruby-Throated. For argument sake, if it was a Ruby-Throated that snuck in there it would be a hell of a find as well this late in the year.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Allegan Co. Sightings

7 Nov
Douglas Beach
Oval Beach
Allegan SGA Farm Loop
Saugatuck Dunes SP
Iceland Gull* (state first for me)
RT Loon
Common Loon
Blue Goose
Snow Bunting (more found at Oval Beach and SDSP)
Rough-Legged Hawk (dark morph)
Notes: Winds were very strong out of the SW making ID's and counts extremely difficult.
The posting to Michigan Listers by Rich Brigham was too good to pass up. We made the best of the day and the weather checking out new places.
Rich and co. did find Black Scoters fly by while we were there but nothing like last week.
Thousands of geese at the farm unit with a few Snow Geese mixed in showing different phases.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Top Ten Birds and Experiences of 2009

Bird Year 2009
Participants: Craig Gough, Bob Hart, Ed Lewandowski, Bill Loomis, and Tom Shehan

2009... Here it goes... Let's start with my inspiration.
My posting to on Feb 11th.
Again, I want to thank the birding community for your support and kind words.

Hello birders,

This is not a post for me. This is to bring to light the passing of one of my favorite birders, friend, and relative. Bill Wilson, my uncle died shortly after Christmas but until now I haven't been able to bring myself to do this message its just delivery.
He may not be well known to most on this site, but he was one of those birders that could close his eyes and tell you what you were seeing. He struggled for many years with Parkinson's but it never diminished his spirit. He was always game for bird stories told or listened to, and would get a glimmer in his eye for any opportunity to get out to bird. He would always ask about my meager year count, list off birds I never seem to get while just watching the feeders at his house with his wife Joan. He talked often about his trips to Pelee with his brother, banding hawks with Tom Heatley, and would ask us out to watch birds back when watching birds was still watching birds (not birding!)
His name is not likely to be known to most like I mentioned, but he was undoubtedly one of the best birders I know and most inspiring people in my life. For those that knew him, they had a friend, and I am sure fond memories. Every year my father in law, Tom Shehan and I do a Top Ten Birds/Experiences list just for fun to reflect on the year (thanks Cathy Carroll) and every year one of my best memories of the 10 was with uncle Bill.

I am not a very religious man but I have to believe that he is getting all the lifers he deserves and can ask for.

Make this year and all of your bird years to come great and meaningful.
Happy Birding and Happy Memories
Ed Lewandowski
Auburn Hills

I set out to make this year the most memorable year possible. I dedicated Bird Year 2009 to my uncle. Sorry I never understood how great this hobby was until I was older.

To finish this posting I had to do it right playing by Jamie Cullum. Uncle Bill was singing these old tunes on the ride back from our St. Clair River trip when I landed my first "Oldsquaw" he called it, as I poured through the Sibley's to ID a Long-Tailed Duck. Potato-Potahto, Tomato-Tomahto.

I now say Oldsquaw to respect the old school.

I put myself out there as much as possible trying to make new experiences while treasuring so many great memories. Birding is a great part of who I am. To understand me at my best, you have to ride/walk around sub below temps with fogged up scopes and binoculars, bike the Moo in sweltering heat packing the awkward gear, drive around 90 mph on the backroads of "God knows where (Canada Tundra Swans)", trying to show someone a new bird or capture something magical in nature all over again, putting up with eating on the fly (Wendy's), to think looking at every cell phone tower and puddle over 600 miles is still pretty cool, always pushing for one more bird, ok damnit 5, running late (sorry babe, my excuses are used up by now), my foul language when I miss on a bird for the 8th time and/or pretty much all day anyway, my over excitement for "county and park first of the years" (yeah I got it bad man!), repeat stories... blah, blah, blah, the old beat up Red Sox hat (finally retired), and many other crazy antics I have may have left out.

Birding Rocks! Looking forward to 2010!
Here is my Top Ten...

Top Ten Birds of 2009
1. Northern Hawk Owl**
2. White-Winged Crossbill**
3. Prothontary Warbler**
4. Greater White-Fronted Goose**
5. Brewer's Blackbird**
6. Henslow's Sparrow**
7. Little Gull**
8. Ross' Goose (OC*)
9. Clay-Colored Sparrow (MAC*)
10. Little Blue Heron*

Top Ten Experiences of 2009
1. 114 Bird Day

May is the month for being on a mission. When isn't right? May has new meaning for me though. Last year we finished a 99 bird day scrambling for one last bird in the dark at Suarez Nature Center. This year we were up very early to surpass the century mark.
Our first stop at Rondeau was no let down. We missed on the Townsend's Warbler that day but I ID'd a lifer Prothonotary by its call and then got a crystal clear look. We continued to rack up birds optimistically at Blenheim Sewage Lagoons (Dowitchers, Marbled Godwit) tagging onto a guided bird group. We made a stop at Wheatley, and then Point Pelee to add to our already 100+ list!
For all the greatness of this trip we still got clobbered by Sean Bachman and I think Lyle Hamilton never even leaving their own county. Ouch! Good job on your record too.

2. UP trip
Kid in a candy store! I had only been semi-birding in the UP once before, but this was just awesome. So many good birds right off the get go it is hard to write a list for them all.
The only two-day trip of the year did not disappoint and set me up for my best year ever.
Missed on some good birds, but I intend to return for Sharp-Tailed Grouse and Great Gray Owl. I felt so alive getting things lined up for this run up north and so many things about the trip turned out the way I planned. I felt proud throughout the journey.

3. Season Opener
Everyone and their brother made their way out to see every Crossbill posting at Cedar Lake Campground and so did the Featherless Five! This turned out to be only one of two trips of the year all together, we got out to see a Cbill for the first time. They were fun to watch, and it was awesome to land a lifer within the first week of the new year. We dipped on the Varied Thrush in Ann Arbor unfortunately, but it was a great day to be a birder. Thanks again to the Hotaling family for your patience and hospitality to the birding community.

4. My little one and a Ross' Goose
Been meaning to get my daughter out to feed the chickadees and little birdies by hand at Kensington.
Little did she know that she was also along for a county first Ross' Goose. She saw it and said "Goose", so yep it counts! She had fun throwing seed around but wasn't sure about the Chickadees getting THAT close. Pretty cute stuff.

5.Viva La Mexico!
How can birding in a tropical climate be a bad thing? Nothing beats birding in a Hawaiian shirt drinking cervezas at pool side with your family! The birds kept coming here and there but I did better on the last day walking around the more manicured resort as opposed to the sanctuary of a resort we stayed at. FYI-Adding to your WORLD LIST is pretty cool too!

An Immature Yucatan Jay harassing our morning feast on the balcony.
They were helarious!

6. Pt. Moo- New level of birding
Well, I sure had every intention to win the damn trophy this year, so I made ample effort to get out to Pt. Moo to do it. My last trip was most meaningful. I picked up quite a few co. firsts and first of the years, but more importantly I ran into Caleb Putnam and Adam Byrne (yep... the guy that fine tooth combs my eBird postings!) Watching these guys in action is really impressive. I learned 1. I just aint as good as I may think I am at this birding thing. 2. Buy a better freaking scope. 3. Listening to real birders talk is like hearing a different language. You can make out some of the words, follow along here and there, but hell no way was I going to find that White-Rumped Sandpiper on my own. These guys are just awesome. I have some more birding to do apparently or bird in a little different way.

7. Curious about that noise!?
Over at Nana and Papa's, Tom just mentioned he ought to be getting a Screech Owl soon. We went into the study after dinner, checked the postings, played some owl songs. My daughter stopped playing with whatever my wife and Nana were doing and came running into the study to investigate this unusual phenomena. We had to up the ante and bring an owl to her. This was more than cool to her and the look on her face was unforgetable. For weeks afterward she was still hooting so we had to take her to hawk fest for the owl and hawk exhibit guy. The interest continues...

8. W. Michigan Trip
This recent trip came unexpectedly as Craig, Tom, and I planned to go to Harrisville, Oscoda, Tawas area, but Rich Brigham's posting from the week before was too much to pass up for November. The winds weren't cooperative for us but it was awesome getting out to new birding locations, getting a few more birds for the year and enough to tie my all time best annual total with over a month to go. I intend to bird more on this coast in the next few years, Warren Dunes in May is next.

9. Last Bird?!
Found a report from the Belle Isle trip stating that the Saw-Whet Owl is back at old reliable and would be my best ever bird #228. I left work right away being overly anxious to beat my old record. This is more significant to me than it probably sounds because I realize in the grand scheme of things, 227 birds in a year isn't exactly earth shattering to the top birders but meaningful to me. I have hit 200+ every year but those years included somewhere... Delaware, Maryland, Florida, Georgia. Last year I didn't go anywhere but had respectable numbers staying in Michigan, N. Ohio, and SW. Ontario. This year I am well ahead all marks staying in the area. Something to be proud of. A great year for me.
Oh yeah... the bird! I dipped with disappointment on the owl but I scowered the entire island in hopes of finding a Cackling Goose amongst the vast groups of Canada Geese on the island. It was starting to get dark and I was about to call it a day but there it was within 10 feet of my car just before calling it quits.

10. SW Washtenaw
This was my favorite solo trip of the year. I landed some solid birds for the area, for the year, and did mostly it mostly by taking after Uncle Bill. Close your eyes, soak in the morning chill, and listen to every bird sing to the rising sun. That is birding!

#231- Last bird of the year
Couldn't put a rank on this one.
I had some time to kill after work and wanted to take one last shot on the lifer Black Scoter I manage to keep missing on. This bird has become a nemesis bird for me. With large groups of all scoters being located on the west side of the state in November, I missed both times I tried but decided for one last shot in Port Huron. I have seen White-Wing Scoters and Surf Scoters here before but never the Black Scoter. They are less common I realize, but it was starting to become ridiculous.
Things were quiet and it was getting dark but I finished the trip at the first spot Uncle Bill ever took me to for birding... at Lighthouse Park. I found my lifer and last bird of the year on his home turf.
I made some effort to pick up #232 after that but I think somehow, I was meant to finish things right there. Where it all began.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Canada Sightings

The Soaring Six Adventure
26Sep 2009
Creek Road Marsh (that is what I am calling it for now)

Holiday Beach
Pelee Onion Fields
Hillman Marsh
Black Oak Heritage Park

Soaring 6 of Bob Hart, Craig Gough, Tom Shehan, Ed Lewandowski, Chris Goulart, and Bill Loomis was widdled down to the first four birders mentioned.

From left to right: Bufflehead Bob Hart, Catbird Craig Gough, and Good Ol' Papa Bear Tom Shehan

Winds were mostly out of the SE, not conducive for good hawk migration once again.
Highlights were the Gray-Cheeked Thrush, Philly Vireo, Warbler assortment, and duck variety.
Best birding was at Creek Road Marsh, Holiday Beach past the Carp Crossing sign, the hawk tower, and Black Oak Heritage Park in Windsor.

American Wigeon
American Black Duck -Creek Rd. Marsh
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail

Peregrine Falcon
Sandhill Crane (Canada first?!)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker ~4
Least Flycatcher
Philadelphia Vireo (FOY) 3 0f 4 vireo species
Gray-cheeked Thrush - Plentiful and a FOY
11 Warbler Species

76 Species Day

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Annual Bird Totals

Year ABA MI Oak. Co.
2005 214 149 66
2006 214 165 95
2007 227 161 86
2008 214 162 109
2009 231* 217* 140*
2010 224 206 150*
Life 303 268 183

* Best year

Favorite Locations

(Oakland Co.)
Indian Springs Metropark
Kensington Metropark
Drayton Plains Nature Center
Beaudette Park, Pontiac
Hawk Woods Nature Center, Auburn Hills
Civic Center Park & Oakland Tech Trails, Auburn Hills
Bald Mountain SRA
Orion Oaks
George Suarez Friendship Woods
Heritage Park, Farmington Hills
Robert Long Park
Kirk in the Hills Church
Novi Wetlands
West Bloomfield Nature Preserve
(Macomb Co.)
Stony Creek Metropark
Holland Ponds
Sterling Heights Nature Center
Metrobeach Metropark
Wetzel SP
(Wayne Co.)
Point Mouilee (Monroe)
Lake Erie Metropark
French Landing & Grace Lake
Crosswinds Marsh
Belleville Lk
Belle Isle
U of M Dearborn RRBO
William Milliken State Park and Harbor
(Washtenaw Co.)
The Arb & Gallup Park
Dolph Park
Stinchfield Woods
Superior Twp. Roads
(Other Favorites)
Muskegon Wastewater
Whitefish Point
Sault Ste. Marie
Shiawassee Natl. Refuge
Port Huron
Brighton SRA
Island Lake SP
Douglas Beach
Allegan SGA
Tiscornia Park
Quanicassee SWA

Oak Openings
Crane Creek
Metzger Marsh
Pipe Creek Marsh (Mini Moo)
Maumee Bay State Park

Point Pelee
Blenheim Sewage Lagoons
Hillman Marsh
Holiday Beach
The Pinery
Point Edward
Black Oak Heritage Park