I managed to experience a number of neat yard highlights that happened so quick that I had no time to grab a camera. I'm trying to determine which one was my favorite.
A Fox Squirrel had jumped from the trees to the top of the Screech Owl box. It attempted to enter the box several times but the resident Screech Owl wanted nothing to do with it. I actually heard the owl screech several times from inside the house as the squirrel attempted to peer inside the hole. This prompted me to run out the door and through the brush to scare the squirrel away. Owl safe and sound.
A Fox Sparrow made another appearance yesterday afternoon for a few minutes.
This morning the owl box was visited by a half-dozen Eastern Bluebirds that took turns flying in to investigate the box as possible roosting sites. Each time one bird flew in it peered inside then quickly flew off, only to be followed by another bird. And so on. They soon flew off. Owl safe and sound.
With a steady snowfall this morning the feeders were hopping! Approximately 2-dozen House Finches were at the sunflower feeder while another 2-dozen American Goldfinches swarmed the thistle feeder. Just as I grabbed the camera to photograph a pair of Pine Siskins that joined them a Cooper's Hawk flushed the entire crowd. I saw the hawk fly over the field out back.
An American Tree Sparrow visited the ground the below the feeders this evening.
And, a Red-breasted Nuthatch flew into the sunflower feeder a couple of times this evening and made for a great end to the day!
And not a single photo.
Saturday, November 24, 2018
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Here's a Fox Sparrow scratching in the mulch at normal speed. The 4K video is captured at 30 fps.
Here's the Fox Sparrow scratching in the mulch at 120 fps. The action is slowed 4X normal speed.
Those little legs do move at a clip that is barely perceptible to the human eye. But, when slowed down they appear quite graceful!
I also had a brief appearance by my first American Tree Sparrow of the season. Winter is officially here. It did not stick around as the birds were flushed by a juvenile Cooper's Hawk that blasted through the yard. It scattered the 14 Dark-eyed Juncos that were also in the yard.
Just before dusk the Eastern Screech Owl stuck its head out of the box in preparation for his evening hunt. Snow is expected after midnight w/ 1-2" predicted (we'd get less than ½").
Monday, November 12, 2018
Robin had class in Ann Arbor Sunday afternoon, so I spent a couple of hours driving around looking for birds. The pond at Scio Church Rd and Parker Rd. was now frozen. The Spotted Redshank was last seen 5 days ago and is presumed long gone. Only Killdeer remain.
A Cackling Goose was reported among the thousand or so Canada Geese that were hanging out at the Avis Farm industrial park. I drove around looking for it, but failed to find it.
Detroit River Hawk Watch. I took a walk along the trails south of the Lake Erie Metropark boat launch and managed to find 5 Rusty Blackbirds roosting in the trees and 6 Horned Grebes on the lake, but otherwise had nothing to point the camera.
Tuesday, November 6, 2018
Robin and I were at mom's eating dinner when the phone called. Adam Byrne was on the line and all I could think was "rare bird at Pt. Mouillee!". He and Scott Terry had refound a Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus) that was found on November 2nd by Alan Ryff and Maggie Jewett. The bird was at the Scio Church Rd / Parker Rd pond in Washtenaw County (sw of Ann Arbor). With Robin giving me the stink-eye I knew that there was no chance chasing after the bird, after all I was 30 minutes from home and another 45 minutes from the location, and it was almost 5 pm. Luckily, we were going to Ann Arbor on Sunday (04 Nov) so I'd have a couple hours to try for the bird.
For the next 2 hours the birding throngs would share scopes, directions, and answer questions of all the drivers rolling down windows wondering what was going on... It was cloudy and windy with showers threatening, but every once in a while the sun would pop out and illuminate the bird very nicely.
Compared to the Greater Yellowlegs the Spotted Redshank appeared darker and smaller. The red lower mandible, white eye stripes (supercillium) above a dark line that runs through the eyes, and gray cap is contrast to the brighter gray head and white eye-ring of the Greater Yellowlegs. The chest of the Spotted Redshank was also smudgier gray than the white belly of of the yellowlegs.
The Spotted Redshank was not completely cooperative, however. It was as far back in the pond as possible and giving only brief glimpses of its red legs and red lower mandible. The bird was swimming and foraging much like a phalarope while the Greater Yellowlegs stayed in shallower waters or shoreline.
The Spotted Redshank then lifted off again and flew back to the pond in front of us, and this time was a bit closer. Close enough to get some decent long-distance digiscoped images.
The Spotted Redshank is a Code-4 bird in the ABA Area. It is considered a "casual" visitor to North America with only 6-10 birds seen over a 30-year period. To see this bird in its breeding colors it is unmistakeable; black shorebird with red lower mandible and red legs, and white eye-ring. This is a striking contrast to the more common European Common Greenshank, which looks like a whiter version of our Greater Yellowlegs. The Common Redshank (T. totanus) is very similar in appearance but differentiated by having a straighter bill with both upper and lower mandibles red at their base. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has a nice video comparing the different "shanks".
The Spotted Redshank breeds across northern Scandinavia and northern Asia and migrates south to the Mediterranean, the southern British Isles, France, tropical Africa, and tropical Asia for the winter. It is an occasional vagrant to Australia and North America. - Wikipedia
Avibirds.com has a map showing the breeding/wintering range of the Spotted Redshank. This bird in Michigan is WAY out of its range.