Friday, August 11, 2017

Orange-throated Hummingbird! - 11 Aug 2017

The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been active in the yard the past few days. One particular male has been kind of a dick to the other birds in the yard, so I haven't felt too badly about calling him in with the recorded calls. It has given me the opportunity to get some point-blank digiscoping from inside the house.

Four days ago (7 August) he was molting pretty heavily. I posted a pic to the Hummingbird Photography Facebook page and got confirmation from Sheri L. Williamson that it indeed was an adult male molting. The orange-tinged gorget feathers were noted and she kindly included a link to her article about feather wear being responsible for the color shift from ruby-red.

This evening I had the opportunity to photograph a pair of hummers this evening and realized that one was a juvenile male (a single red gorget feather on the throat) while the other was a full-grown male showing no hint of pin-feather molt. A third bird?  Image captures indicated that its gorget feathers were glowing orange, and not ruby red, so it may have been a specimen that I've been looking for ever since I started studying the red gorget feathers at work about 4 years ago.

If only I could get a barbule or two from this guy...

"bored now"

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Early August Shorebirding - 8 Aug 2017

I spent a few hours this evening photographing shorebirds in the Long Pond Unit at Pt. Mouillee SGA in Monroe Co., MI. Lighting was difficult in the NE corner this late afternoon, but sufficient to produce a nice White-rumped Sandpiper and my first Stilt Sandpiper of the fall.

While heading out to the back side of the plowed field I spotted the immature (white) Little Blue Heron in the small pond to my left. It was among 4 Snowy Egrets and quickly flushed at my approach. It flew into the Caspian Tern colony that numbered almost 90 birds! There it joined 2 more Snowy Egrets and a pair of American Avocets.

I scoped the far bank and found a pair of Long-billed Dowitchers among a half-dozen Short-billed Dowitchers, another pair of Stilt Sandpipers, four Black-bellied Plovers, and dozens of Pectoral, Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers. Lesser Yellowlegs were numerous, as well. I would find a single Greater Yellowlegs.

I continued around the east side of the Long Pond and found another pair of Snowy Egrets, and a 9th bird in the Vermet Unit among a dozen Great Egrets. Along the west side a pair of Sandhill Cranes was a nice find.

As is the case in the evening the best lighting was along the west side of the Long Pond Unit. There, in the shallows near shore I found a nice selection of Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers.

Solitary Sandpipers.

Pectoral Sandpipers.

Lesser Yellowlegs.

And even a pair of Short-billed Dowitchers!

A pair of Wilson's Snipe was also a nice find, but they didn't stick around long enough to even get the scope on them.

Pte. Mouillee SGA, Monroe, Michigan, US
Aug 8, 2017 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Protocol: Traveling
4.0 mile(s)
Comments:     Long Pond Unit. Sunny, mild, 80F
36 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  23
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  12
Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors)  6
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)  2
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  2
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  2
Great Egret (Ardea alba)  14
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)  9     Six in Long Pond, 2 more along dike between Long Pond and Vermet, and 1 in Vermet
Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)  1     Long Pond among six Snowy Egrets and 4 Great Egrets in flock of Caspian Terns; Video taken
Green Heron (Butorides virescens)  1
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)  1
Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis)  2
American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)  2     Long Pond; Continuing; Video
Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)  4
Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)  2
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  14
Stilt Sandpiper (Calidris himantopus)  4
White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis)  1
Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)  18
Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla)  26
Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus)  16
Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus)  2     Molting birds; bulkier than SBDO's nearby; dull gray
Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata)  2
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)  2
Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria)  1
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)  2
Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)  34
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  16
Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)  91
Forster's Tern (Sterna forsteri)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  13
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  4
Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus)  2
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  120
Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)  6
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  6

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Early August in the Yard - 06 Aug 2017

Some highlights of the week included a pair of Eastern Towhees under the feeders, a Brown Thrasher, Baltimore Orioles eating Glossy Buckthorn berries, a baby House Wren, a Warbling Vireo that allowed some digiscoped images, and best of all, an in-your-face encounter with a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Long Pond Shorebirding - 05 Aug 2017

A late afternoon drive took me to Siegler Rd. and the North Causeway of Pt. Mouillee SGA. I unhitched the bike, grabbed the scope and cameras, and took off for the Long Pond Unit to look for shorebirds. Reports from earlier today indicated the presence of Long-billed Dowitcher and Red-necked Phalarope.

I passed a pair of worn Lesser Scaup in the Huron River to my left. To my right the marsh was eerily quiet, with only a distant Great Blue Heron seen flying over the cattails. I reached the spot where a small section of the unit was cultivated for farming and left the bike. The sun was shining from the west, so much of my view was going to be backlit.

A Pied-billed Grebe was poking its head out of the duckweeds and gave me something to digiscope. It was soon joined by several more grebes and soon skittered over the water to places unknown.

As I put the scope on the far mudflats I spotted a pair of large plovers: American Golden Plovers. Note the dark caps, bold white supercillium and gold-flecked back feathers. This appears to be a molting adult since black belly feathers are still somewhat visible.

A flock of three Short-billed Dowitchers flew overhead and landed nearby. I digiscoped them despite the poor lighting, as well.

To my left a small pond held some Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpipers and Least Sandpipers. Only a single Lesser Yellowlegs would stick around for an image or two.

As I scoped the far reaches of the unit I spotted the Long-billed Dowitcher foraging among several Short-billed Dowitchers. It was easily recognized as a bulkier, dull gray dowitcher obviously in molt. I would also spot the Red-necked Phalarope even farther beyond. Too far for any useful pics.

A large roost of Ring-billed Gulls and Caspian Terns were nearby, so I decided to try my hand at videotaping the Caspian Terns in flight. These stills were taken from the 4K footage. Not bad...

While I returned to the bike a Bobolink appeared ahead of me on the phragmites. I spent a few minutes photographing it from 40' away.

I continued on around the Vermet Unit to check the Banana Unit and the patch of open area of Cell 5 where dredging had been pumped. It was dry and void of birds.

I came back down the Middle Causeway and spotted the immature (white) Little Blue Heron in the SW corner of the Vermet. Unfortunately for me a number of nearby Great Egrets spooked as I stopped and caused it to fly off far enough to discourage digiscoping. It had landed on the small peninsula that appears late in the year in the SW corner of the unit, but I didn't have time to hike out and spook the birds, further.

I continued on to the dike separating the Long Pond and Bloody Run Units and headed back toward the North Causeway. Here the Sun was behind me, and lighting was now good for some proper digiscoping. An immature Green Heron was a most cooperative first subject.

Lesser Yellowlegs were abundant in this part of the marsh, and foraged close to shore.

Semipalmated Sandpipers and Pectoral Sandpipers were also present, but more skittish.

I'll have to remember to check this stretch again at around 6:30 - 7:00 pm again, as the Golden Hour approaches.

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