Saturday, June 4, 2011

Michigan Prothonotary Warblers and Great-Crested Flycatchers!

2011-06-03 West Bloomfield Birding - OC Nesting Prothonotary Warblers

Following postings of Oakland County Prothonotary Warblers on the Southeast Michigan Birders list, our friend and mentor Ed Lewandowski called us up and asked if we wanted to bird with him. He knew it was perfect "Setzer birding" - that is: it was local, nice weather was predicted, a rest facility was available if needed, and there was a decent chance of seeing new birds. Ed knows us well. Sure; yes, yes, yes! What a great teacher and mentor. Thanks again Ed!

I also offer many thanks to Leslie, Kathy, and Mike for pin-pointing the location and increasingly accurate directions on the "Michigan Birders list" and for "firing Ed up"!

First to set the stage:

Last night Judy and I were walking/birding around Streamwood. Birding was not great - too many leaves! After awhile, we just really enjoyed sitting on our neighbors' deck and chatting awhile while watching the forest. We told Gary and Linda we were going out tomorrow with a friend to see a Prothonotary Warbler. (Geez. This does not look like much in print - but just try saying Pro-tho-no-tary Warbler (wrong!) or Pro-THON-o-tary Warbler (correct). And say it in mixed company. Well, anyway, off goes Linda - bending her recently hurting neck looking at imaginary birds in the forest behind her home! Fun!

It was very significant to me! I realized that with a straight face I had said something that was always very strange sounding thing to me before, and a source of humor. I spoke the names of fanciful - yet real - birds. I realized that I now must have fallen into the very strange - almost sci-fi - world of being a "birder"! I talked some "weird talk". Whew! Am I "are one" now? Guess so ...

So back to the story.

Not only did we get the advertised Prothonotary Warbler, but we saw (and I photographed!) a pair together. And we saw their nest hole. Yes! They are nesting in Oakland County! We had seen them at Magee Marsh (Ohio) last year and also this year and marveled at their beauty, but this was a Michigan lifer. I think it was also one for Ed - certainly an Oakland County lifer! Whee!

Not only a Prothonotory Warblet (amazing in itself), but a great pic!!

A pair of the most fantastic warblers. In love  - in Michgan!

Prothonotary Warbler eats blue dragonfly

Not only the pair of Prothonotary Warblers, but also a Great Crested Flycatcher talked to us incessently and posed for pics! This was only the second time I saw one, and the first time I had really good looks. Great indeed!

There were lots of other birds as well, including a Hairy Woodpecker feeding young in another dead tree. Alas, it was too far away for pics, but we could see a small head occasionally pop out of the hole.

In addition to birds, we saw a snapping turtle on the path, many butterflies, and more species of dragonflies (bird food) than we have ever seen at one place before.

Incessant talker!

OK - just an amazing shot of a Great Crested Flycatcher in flight!

Geez! What deck talk this will make!!! (Yes, I think "I are one" - a birder ...). Makes for interesting - albeit bizarre - conversations with regular folks. Thanks Linda for understanding, and being so knowledgeable as to put on a great charade to exemplify what birders must look like! I do hope your neck is OK! Fun! And, it was all true.

Then we went to Drayton Plains to see Mike Mencotti's Common Moorhen (more good deck talk,and another local lifer), but without location specifics and with the flightieness of birds, we "dipped" = birder talk for we missed it. We walked the whole circuit around the ponds there. From its distinctive song, I added a Common Yellowthroat to my OC life list.

I plan to drop a bunch more pics on this blog (or more likely on my PBase site) later, but for now just want to get the initial story "out there". Ed has always been our "lucky charm" for local lifers, and indeed we seem to do likewise for him. Fantastic day!

Go to the West Bloomfield Woods Nature Preserve and Trail Network. This is off Arrowhead Road just south of Pontiac Trail. We parked in the main lot and walked across Arrowhead to a newly opened gravel trail on the bed of the former Grand Trunk Railroad.  As Leslie and Mike had indicated, the Prothonotaries were about a couple hundred yards down the trail. Ed was surprised to see that a formerly closed area was now open for hikers/bikers and birders. I was personally amazed that I found an alternative to our beloved Holland Ponds, and that it seems to have far more diversity and potential than Holland. Great day indeed! It will also be fun on return visits to explore the park itself.

Most Michiganders have no idea what it is like to live without easy access to public lands within a suburban environment (...says the guy from California ...). "Backyard birding". Magee Marsh may concentrate migrating birds, and the Prothonotary Warblers are often the birds people remember best, but they are nesting right here in Oakland County! Go local!

Thanks Ed!!! And thanks all for the inspiration and references from the list that started this fantastic day!!

Go Bird! Go local!
- "Dr, Bob"


Cathy Carroll said...

Dr. Bob,

Thanks for the great blog entry and photos. Sounds like a great place and close to home for you.


Janet said...

Congrats Bob, Judy & Ed. What a fabulous experience to see a Prothonotary warbler in our county. I am 10 minutes away from that location. I was there last week and had to quit because of a sudden rain shower. I got a Rose-breasted Grosbeak and an American Redstart in the 15 minutes I had before the rain ended my trip.

Priscilla said...

Your 'Prothonotary Warbler eats blue dragonfly' photo has such hustle and tension!