Monday, December 31, 2012

Gulls and 'Larkspurs' Weekend - 29-30 Dec 2012

I hadn't planned on birding much this weekend, mostly due to weather conditions, but when Walt Pawlowski posted a possible Slaty-backed Gull at the Visteon HQ / Grace Lake in northern Wayne Co. I grabbed the scope and headed out the door.

Arriving at the Tyler Rd. Visteon HQ I saw 1000+ gulls along the west shore of Grace Lake.  In the parking lot on the east end of the lake were several cars and birders w/ scopes: Jacco Gelderloos, Erik Enbody, Kevin Welch, John Lowry and Todd Palgut.  We scoped the gulls in the fading light of the afternoon, but failed to see any potential Slaty-backed Gulls.  We did, however, see several Great Black-backed Gulls, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Glaucous Gulls, Iceland Gulls and a Kumlien's Gull among the hundreds of Ring-billed and Herring Gulls.

I returned to the pond on Sunday morning and found the gull flock along the east side of the lake.  Staying in the car I used binoculars to scan the flock for the Slaty-back, but only saw Lesser Black-backed, Great Black-backed, Glaucous and Iceland Gulls.  After only about 10 minutes gunshots were heard off in the distance, but loud enough to scatter the entire flock for the rest of the day.

I drove over to Willow Run Airport and drove along the perimeter looking for hawks.  A pair of Red-tailed Hawks were perched high in a tree out of digiscoping range.  As I was about half-way through the airport a flock of Horned Larks (~50 birds) lifted off from the road ahead of me.  They flew to the top of a snow-covered hill w/ exposed straw beds where they could be scoped from the road.  I managed to pick out 5 Lapland Longspurs and a single Snow Bunting from the crowd.

As I digiscoped a few frames a flock of 100 Snow Buntings flew in momentarily, then continued on across the road and into the fields of the airport.

I would return to the Visteon HQ / Grace Lake and find only a handfull of gulls on the water.  Time to head home.

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