Saturday, December 18, 2010
U.P. Birding - Day 1 - 15 Dec 2010
Forecasts called for clear skies today and tomorrow, but clouds and light snow greeted us as we crossed the Mackinac Bridge. The Straights were open, but no ducks were visible along either shoreline.
First stop in the afternoon was Rudyard (I-75 Exit 373). I first took Hantz Rd. south to 23 mile Rd. but saw nothing except for a distant Common Raven. Backtracking to M-48 west I drove over to Centerline Rd. and headed north toward Rudyard.
At 22 mile Rd. I spotted a Rough-legged Hawk soaring west over the farm field and heading my way. As I scrambled to get the window down it passed overhead, and only allowed me a couple of shots through the car window. Unfortunately for me the power lines were in the way, and my best shot of a full wing spread was obscured by wires. Still, the bird was low enough to identify as a light-phase adult female. Note the tan chest, belly and underwings (see top image). Simply the prettiest of the North American raptors!
A flock of six Snow Buntings passed overhead as we drove north toward 19 mile Rd. No owls.
Near the single-lane bridge (Lower Hay Lk. Rd?) a Northern Shrike flew across the road but disappeared across the creek. Only Black-capped Chickadees were in the area. Try as I could I couldn't hear or see any other passerines. I'd been hoping for Pine Grosbeaks or some crossbills. No luck. The feeders themselves held only a Hairy Woodpecker, BC Chickadees, and Blue Jays. The boat launch area was quiet as the St. Mary River was frozen.
As we headed north on Riverside Dr. toward the Soo Robin spotted a small flock of Wild Turkey feeding on someones front lawn.