Monday, January 12, 2009

Birding the UP Soon? - 12 Jan 2009

For those interested in upcoming field trips to the UP I've summarized recent e-mails from various folks (thank you)regarding sightings. This is also mostly for me...

12-Jan-2009 : Courtesy of Jim Dawe,

Mark and Joanie Hubinger, Paul Ciske, myself, and about 10 others spent the weekend birding the Sault Sainte Marie area in eastern Chippewa County Here are the highlights:

3 Hawk Owls; seen at McCabe & H-48 (northwest of Pickford), southeast of Pickford on H-48 east of M-129, and about a half mile north of Rudyard on Tilson Road.

5 Snowy Owls along Centerline Road southeast of Rudyard. Another one was seen on Hantz Road, east and south of 19 Mile Road. Two were seen in flight, one over the southern end of Ridge Road (near 8 Mile Road) and a second at Lower Hay Lake Road and 7 ½ Mile Road.

Though none in our group located Great Gray Owls, there was a report from Bob & Lois Robbins, who live on the west end of 11 Mile Road, off of M-129, that they had one on Tuesday (1/6) just east of their home. Their home is on the south side of the road, along 11 Mile Road, and they have feeders with Pine Grosbeak, Common Redpolls, Tree Sparrow, and tons of Goldfinch. And, they enjoy the birders.

Another Great Gray Owl was seen south on Centerline as it "T's" into Bay Road. This is about 5-6 miles southeast of Rudyard. This bird was seen on Thursday (1/8).

Sharp-tailed Grouse; east of I-75, along H-48, near Steinbeck Road (about 1-2 miles west of McCabe Road). On Centerline Road, approximately 4 1/2 miles southeast of Rudyard. Along Teets Road, south of the small town of Dryburg.

Rough-legged Hawk; along 9 Mile Road, west of Ridge Road. Another was seen near the Hawk Owl that is southeast of Pickford.

At the Drafter Dump we had; one third cycle Thayer's Gull, 2 first cycle Iceland Gulls, 1 second cycle Iceland Gull, 6 second cycle Glaucous Gulls, several adult and immature Great Black-backed Gulls, about 100 Ring-billed Gulls, and about 200 Herring Gulls. Plus, Bald Eagles and a Red-tailed Hawk.

Northern Shrikes; on Nicolet Road, north of 9 Mile Road. And, Lower Hay Lake Road, south of 10 Mile Road.

Scattered flocks of Pine Grosbeak were seen along Scenic Road near the Charlotte River, just before entering the Dunbar Forest. Good numbers were seen at the feeders of Pins’ residence immediately east of the Dunbar Forest Park (this would be near the mouth of Charlotte River, where it enters the St. Mary's River).

Hoary Redpoll; was seen feeding on road grit near the intersection of 7 Mile Road and Ridge Road, with Common Redpolls. Joseph Pins reports that one has been visiting his feeders daily (adjacent to the Dunbar Station).

The only Snow Buntings observed were in the same area as the 5 Snowy Owls. Flock of about a dozen.

Common Redpolls were very common throughout the area. Pine Siskins were less common, but abundant at the Pins’ feeders by the Dunbar Station; White-winged Crossbills were seen, but not commonly for most of us.

We talked to a couple that had last seen the Gyrfalcon about two weeks ago, and they had mentioned they had seen it 3 times, over the previous 2-3 weeks at 3 different locations. All approximately 10 to 20 miles south and west of the Soo.

12-Jan-2009: Courtesy of Alison Világ

I and 3 other birders from Southwestern Michigan spent January 9th through 11th birding the Upper Peninsula.

Here are the more notable sightings:

Sharp-tailed Grouse - 2 near 9 Mile at the intersection of either Ridge or Shunk south of the Soo (1-09)

Glaucous Gull - 1 immature in Sault Ste. Marie (1-11)

Snowy Owl - 4 birds seen in Chippewa Co.; 2 along Centerline Rd. north of M-48 (1-09), and 2 along Hantz Rd. north of M-48 (1-11)

Northern Hawk Owl - 1 southeast of Pickford, slightly east of the M-48/M-129 jct. (1-09), and 1 slightly south of the McCabe/M-48 intersection (1-09 & 1-11)

American Three-toed Woodpecker - 1 female east of US-41 just south of the Baraga/Houghton County line

Black-backed Woodpecker - 1 female in Marquette County along the trail into the McCormick Tract (trailhead is off of Peshekee Grade)

Boreal Chickadee - 2+ along trail into the McCormick Tract in Marquette County

Bohemian Waxwing - a few hundred a mile or so south of Grand Marais along M-77

Pine Grosbeak - Common along Riverside Dr.; a few at Peshekee Grade and along M-28 west of Seney

Red Crossbill - 2-3 females in Baraga County, along Baraga Plains Rd.

Evening Grosbeak - 2 at a feeder along Ranger Rd. in Chippewa County
White-winged Crossbills and Common Redpolls were abundant throughout the trip.

Courtesy of Skye Haas @

Chippewa County
Jim Evens found and photographed a grey-morph GYRFALCON in Dafter on 10 Mile Road between South Maple and Touri on December 6th. Joe Nault found a NORTHERN HAWK OWL in Rudyard on the northern end of Hantz Road on November 30th and December 2nd though there have been no further reports. What may be the same bird, Kirk Zulfelt had a NORTHERN HAWK OWL just north of Rudyard on Tilson Road, just north of the Tilson/Mackinaw Trail fork down a railroad line. More dependable have been 2 NORTHERN HAWK OWLS in Pickford with one bird being seen at the corner of M-48 and McCabe Roads and the other east of Pickford on M-48 a mile east of M-129, on the south side of the road. Multiple observers have reported these bird including Bruce Ventura, Bev Kirby, Tula Stinson and Jim & Jody Patton (if I left anybody out please forgive or contact me- or both!). The most recent report came from January 2nd, fide Lathe Claflin. Thanks to Lathe for getting this up to Mich-lister, there is one minor correction with the directions he posted, that being that Pickford is east NOT west of Rudyard. Chuck McDonald reported=2 0a TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE at his home in Sault Ste. Marie on Riverside Drive on December 13th with the bird also being seen seven days earlier. Up to 8 SNOWY OWLS were observed in Rudyard on the Centerline/M-48/Hantz Roads loop on November 29th, with a total of 10 different individuals recorded in this area in the last couple of weeks. Joe Nault also reported a SNOWY OWL south of the Soo on 5 1/2 Mile Road on December 18th. Good numbers of SHARP-TAILED GROUSE have been observed in the Soo, with over 50 birds observed in Dryburg on November 29th. Riverside Drive has also had decent numbers of Sharp-tails.. NORTHERN SHRIKES seem to be widespread in the Soo/Rudyard areas. 23 TUNDRA SWANS were at the DNR launch site in the Dunbar Forest on the 29th. In addition to good numbers of WHITE-WINGED & RED CROSSBILLS, the WPBO CBC recorded a THAYER'S/ICELAND GULL on December 28th. Ed Smith reported 3 GRAY JAYS at Hulbert Bog on January 1st.

10-Jan-2009 Joel Lake and his wife found a Boreal Owl in a large balsam on
the top of the bluff in front of their house along the shores of Izaak
Walton Bay west of Sault Ste. Marie.

10-Jan-2009 – Tom Pavlik’s summary of Chippewa County:

For those of you headed to Chippewa county next weekend I was happy to do some scouting for you today. I got up from my warm cozy bed in White Lake and headed north arriving in Rudyard at about 9:30am to -12F temps (yep, that's minus 12). I had my first Snowy Owl right along I-75 on the west side of the highway 1 mile south of the Rudyard exit. There were two additional Snowy Owls along their common venue of Centerline Rd. south of Rudyard. Also on Centerline were five Sharp-tailed Grouse on the west side of the road just south of M-48. On Google Maps, they show 2 M-48s. The northern one is the one that you exit off and goes into Rudyard. The southern one is 3 miles south. These grouse were just south of the southern one.

I talked with a gentleman from Illinois who was taking pictures of the owls. He said he had a Great Gray Owl the previous day exactly 6 miles south of M-48 (the southern one). I spent some time in the area but could not relocate it. There is a path that goes off to the east and he said he saw it back off the road a little ways. This area is heavily wooded and snow is at least knee deep.

The Northern Hawk Owl at M-48 and McCabe (see Lathe's previous e-mail) was an easy find. I did not try for the second one.

Further east on M-48 and about 1/4 mile west of M-129 I had a single Sharp-tailed Grouse.

I continued east and connected with Riverside and headed north. I had only two Pine Grosbeaks along this road and a single Northern Shrike. The Soo Power Plant only had C. Mergs and C. Goldeneyes.

I headed to Ranger Rd. which is west of I-75 about 10 miles on M-28 then north on Ranger. I was looking for the previously reported Evening Grosbeaks but I found none -- only a lonely looking Ruffed Grouse.

I then backtracked on M-28 and went south on Tilson Rd. which eventually gets you back into Rudyard. My only Rough-legged Hawk of the day was on this road about a mile north of Rudyard. The Snowy Owl was still along I-75 when I left the area mid-afternoon.

The number of Common Redpolls in the area is incredible. I'm sure I saw well over a thousand for the day. In spite of my efforts I could not pick out any Hoary Redpolls.

8-Jan-2009 - Lathe Claflin received this from Bev Kirby, the second source for the two Hawk Owls seen W of Rudyard.
Hi Lathe: Going south on Hantz Road, turn East on M-48 for 4 miles to the intersection of McCabe Road and M-48. The hawk owl was seen in the southeast corner of McCabe. To see the second hawk owl, continue east on M-48 to M-129. Turn south and go through Pickford and turn east on M-48 east. Approximately 1 mile on the south side is where we saw the 2nd one. This location was just past a house trailer or camp trailer and was right at the edge of the woods. This one flew across the road to the field on the north side of M-48. As you will remember,
Hantz Road is the one with the Great Lakes Hay barn. Best regards, Bev.

10-Jan-2009 - The Washtenaw Audubon Society in collaboration with the Jackson Audubon Society is sponsoring our upcoming trip to the Soo to enjoy winter birding. The trip is led annually by Lathe Claflin and Gary Siegrist and is definitely a trip you should consider. It is winter birding at its best! Lathe has already posted to this list that there are two Northern Hawk Owls currently in the Soo area. Northern Hawk Owl is a special bird even when it's not a life bird. I saw my life Northern Hawk Owl on this this same field trip in 2005.

The Soo field trip requires sign-up. Please email Lathe Claflin at or Gary Siegrist at

There is a limit on number of birders the trip can accommodate, so I would suggest signing up as soon as possible. For more information about the details, please see the following. This information can also be found on the Washtenaw Audubon Society website:

Feb 06 2009 -- Feb 08 2009
Sault Ste. Marie Winter Birding Weekend
Leaders: Lathe Claflin and Gary Siegrist
Meet Friday, February 6th at 6:00 pm at the Plaza Motor Motel.

Cathy Carroll
Field Trip Coordinator
Washtenaw Audubon Society

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