Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Recent stuff - Spring sprang and now springing Spring broken?

I posted this on the Michigan Birder's list. I copy it here. I really no longer have the energy to generate more than one "ramble" at a time, and wanted to thank Mich birders for their help. Yes, I often "ramble" on the Mich birders (a very accepting forum!) and ignore my blog ...

Many great days recently! My indicator of spring – the Red-winged Blackbird – appeared twice. Yes, Allen I really appreciated your note to me (relative to robins and my spring RWBB indicator) about your sighting of so many RWBB at Erie Marsh this January and I see some postings on the list about RWBB recently and so maybe I need to revise my spring indicator. So, maybe – like Robins – some RWBB hang around. Or is this a weird year? So if not Robins, RWBB, Bluebirds (Stoney recently and Kensington most years), Sandhill Cranes (most recently at Stoney and I am sure Kensington as in most years) and the Kinglets and “butter butts” also being reported this year, what bird is the true indicator of Spring?

At Holland Ponds we were rewarded with the sighting (and backlit pics) of American Widgeon male and female. (Thanks listers! We rarely go there in winter). This is only the second time we ever saw a Widgeon and never so close! As we were walking the main road to Waterfowl Pond to see the ducks, four Red-winged Blackbirds (“tik”, “chuck”, or whatever the familiar sound issuing forth) flew overhead. Huh? Spring?

The next day a RWBB appeared on my deck! Spring! Geez, it was 50 degrees – could have been spring! There were a few more back in the woods making beautiful “here I am” noises at Streamwood. Silly birds…

And at Holland Ponds, I heard some other weird noises – short whistles! Seemed like the older bird-watching couple across the pond was whistling, but the noise did not seem to come from them. From my books, I learned Widgeons make a whistle. Interesting. It was sure strange! Geez, I sure would love to see a Fulvous Whistling Duck (not in Michigan) just to be able to say I saw one! It is in the books and its name sticks in my memory and just rolls off the tongue enough to make it so fascinating! Well anyway, I think I heard a whistling duck (Widgeon), but not the unrelated Whistling Duck. Or was it just the older couple on the other side throwing their whistles and messing with me? We later saw them walking back to their car holding hands. That sight was a true treasure and a lasting memory of a beautiful day birding!

Also while I was watching the Widgeons, I heard some new sounds. Mallards for sure, but very weird - Judy pointed me to the source and I managed to get a few pics of a male Mallard pushing a female under water while biting her neck. First time we ever saw that. Quick!!! Ah, spring! (Is this the time they DO that? What’s the gestation?)

At Stoney Creek Nature Center, we were lucky to get two Common Redpolls (male and female) and a Pine Siskin – both FOY for us. Again, thanks to the list for steering us there! By chance (binocs are good for people too!) we saw my former best bass tournament fishing buddy Terry across from the observation deck where we started and called him over to the Nature Center. He has now traded his bass boat for optics and is hooked on birding. It sure makes sense! Fishing and birding are not so different – seeking, finding, capturing (pics). Both are addictive! And, it is a heck of a lot cheaper considering the amount of gas the 250 hp engines on a bass boat eat, and also more convenient considering that you can “bird” anywhere at any time! It is cool that Terry is now birding! Anyway, the siskin and redpolls were “lifers” for Terry.

On another recent day, while walking the Stoney Creek West Branch Trails, we were fortunate to meet up with Kevin again. On the phone while I asked about the last location of my nemesis PIWO, he had asked me if we saw the Barred Owl. No, I said. I knew exactly where it was supposed to be, and we looked and did not see it as we had walked by. After we met up with Kevin (Thanks, Kevin for meeting us there!), we looked with “new eyes” on the same tree. There it was! It looks like a “bump on a log”! The streaking on the owl’s breast blends perfectly with the bark pattern of the tree! A beautiful “bump on a log”! Go see:

http://www.pbase.com/doctorbass/image/141279901 (do “next” for one more pic)

Anyway, I just wanted to thank everyone for reporting your sightings and to pass along a new “ramble” of the brief spring we enjoyed. I suspect from the weather reports I may finally be able to get “doing” what I need to do at home instead of impulsively birding every nice day. (Hey, in Michigan in winter we take any great day as an opportunity!)

Well, if the brief “Spring spring” is rewound and winter cometh, then bring on more Redpolls, Siskins, and Crossbills – and a few Lapland Longspurs would be nice as well! That would be wonderful! And, for sure the Snowy Owls are amazing! Let’s hope they find food and stay healthy!

BTW, I am going to repost this on my blog. I notice I never posted anything since last summer. “Doing” sure beats blogging… and as much as I would like, it seems harder as I age to do both. I sure heartily applaud the people who can do both!!!

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