Saturday, July 4, 2015

Wayne Co. Dickcissels - 03 Jul 2015

I took an early morning drive out to Willow Run Airport in Romulus, MI to look for grassland birds. I was hoping to see an Upland Sandpiper or possibly a Grasshopper Sparrow, but was surprised to find two pair of Dickcissels along the south end of the airport!

The drive into the airport was met with the usual suspects: Savannah Sparrows and Eastern Meadowlarks were singing and could be seen either on the fence or flying over the grass. But I was surprised to hear the "Tsit-ser-ziiiii" of Grasshopper Sparrows coming from the large hills across from the airport. Though I waited for a long time the birds would never show. I would eventually see a pair of Grasshopper Sparrows about halfway up the hill singing on grass tips.

As I continued driving toward along the service drive I started hearing the 'drr-drr-dididi' of a Dickcissel! Sure enough, a large yellow sparrow landed on the fence and started singing "Dik-dik-cere-cere-cere'.

A second Dickcissel appeared on the opposite side of the road a short distance later. Another pair could be heard off in the grasslands across the fence line. I would spend the next half-hour or so photographing several birds from inside the car using the Nikon V3+FT1 Adapter attached to the 300/2.8VRII and 1.7TCIII (EFL~1377mm). What a nice morning!

I would dip on Upland Sandpipers, but not unexpected. Soybeans and oats have been planted all along the fence line where the sandpipers are normally seen, so they have either been driven away, or are hiding farther inside the airport proper. Allen Chartier did report a pair of them in early June...

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